Episode 184 - Why DNA Test Seniors First, and Other DNA Questions / GeneaMusings Blogger Randy Seaver On His Genealogy Go Over

podcast episode Mar 26, 2017

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. The guys begin with the story of a man who claims to descend from a King of Wales in the 6th century, and says he is next in line to become the successor of Queen Elizabeth II!  Then, David shares the story about the discovery of a large number of 18th century coffins in Philadelphia. And, yes, there are dead people in them! Hear how this came to happen. Next, David fills you in on back fill in San Francisco… in this case… 19th century ships! In fact, they are under the streets there. Maps are now available to tell you where you might be standing over a ship. Then, Fisher and David talk engagement rings and how they came to be diamond rings… in the 1930s!  David’s Blogger Spotlight this week is on Lorine McGinnis Schulze’s blog OliveTreeGenealogy.blogspot.com. David will tell you about one recent post that David found fascinating.

In the second segment (starts at 10:39), Paul Woodbury of LegacyTree.com talks about commonly asked DNA questions, including ethnicity numbers and why you should test your seniors first. Paul brings his years of insight to this enlightening conversation with Fisher.

Then it’s Randy Seaver (starts at 24:16), the man behind GeneaMusings.com. The well known blogger discusses with Fisher his efforts at a “genealogy go over.” What is it? Where does it come from? What’s the end goal? Randy lends his voice to this increasingly popular method for genealogists to solidify and generally improve their work.

Then, Tom Perry, the Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com goes way over Fisher’s head (not that that’s hard!). Answering listener questions, Tom explains some of the history of various video formats you may be dealing with.

That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!

Transcript of Episode 184

Segment 1 Episode 184

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: Welcome back to another spine tingling edition of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out, and this segment is brought to you by RootsMagic.com. And this week on the show we’ve got a couple of great guests. First, Paul Woodbury is going to be on from LegacyTree.com. He is the DNA Specialist for them and of course he had a lot of questions come his way at Roots Tech and his he’s going to share some of those questions and answers that you’re going to want to hear, commonly asked about DNA, coming up in about eight minutes. Then later in the show, Randy Seaver is here, one of the great bloggers in the industry. He’s in the middle of something called a “Genealogy go-over” what is it? How does it work? Why is he doing it? You’re going to find out a little bit later on in the show. Hey just a reminder by the way, if you haven’t yet signed up for our Weekly Genie newsletter you can do that at ExtremeGenes.com. We’d love to have you there. It’s free! And we share all kinds of genealogical gold with you every week. We’d love to have you as part of our growing community. Right now let’s check in with David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist at the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org with our Family Histoire news for this week. Hello David, how are you?

David: Well let’s see, I’ve just flown back in from Texas and about in two weeks I go to Denver, so I guess I can’t be on the East Coast for very long before I have to fly someplace else, so, delighted to check in with you!

Fisher: [Laughs] You keep travelling like this David you’re going to lose your accent!

David: That might be a problem for a Colorado man, maybe I’ll see him when I’m in Colorado. Allan Evans has an interesting genealogical claim to the throne of England!

Fisher: Oh yes! I know who you’re talking about. This guy says he’s going to succeed Queen Elizabeth, but out of great respect for her he’s going to wait until she passes before taking over the Kingdom.

David: Yes. He descends from the right primogenitor, from a 5th century Welsh king Cunedda Wledig who, if you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, he founded the kingdom of Wales.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Before that it was known as the Kingdom of Gondor.

Fisher: Gondor, of course, yes.

David: Yes. So I think that if he is a descendant of this person, there must be literally thousands of others. So maybe he’ll be monarch for a minute and the new monarchy of England will pass every minute to a new descendent. What a nice way of sharing the throne.

Fisher: Yes. I want you to know, in all seriousness, I reached out to this guy to try to get him on the show and it didn’t go very well. It was kind of like, “This is a very legal matter. I can’t talk to you about that.” And he didn’t sound English at all for a guy who wants to be England’s king! He did not speak the King’s English, if you know what I’m saying. [Laughs]

David: Whoa! So if you’re a descendant from this King of Gondor, please let us know at Extreme Genes. We’d like to find out if you have a right to the throne too. [Laughs]

Fisher: Right, exactly. Okay.

David: Okay. Digging into a little bit of history in Philadelphia, a construction crew in Philadelphia actually has found nearly sixty coffins that were supposedly moved in the 19th century that were forgotten.

Fisher: Yeah, these date back to like the 18th century, right? I mean these were well made coffins.

David: They are and it’s a Quaker cemetery if I read correctly, and now they’re obviously going into all of the archaeological work and hopefully after some investigation they’ll be re-interred and they will rest in peace finally.

Fisher: Yes.

David: You know, digging on the other side of the country, in San Francisco, California, as we’ve talked before about New York City, a lot of the times backfill was used by old ships. And of course in San Francisco you have the gold rush of the 1840s and ‘50s where people had come out to the west. These ships, never returned to their home ports, were purchased as fill and there are at least dozens of them in the city streets under San Francisco and on a link that I will send for Extreme Genes listeners, you can find a map to where you might be standing over a vessel.

Fisher: Wow! That is very cool.

David: The interesting thing is you might be standing over the vessel that brought your ancestor to San Francisco.

Fisher: [Laughs] Amazing!

David: It’s still in port. [Laughs]

Fisher: Wow yes, still in port. [Laughs]

David: Well, I’ll tell you, spring time is fast approaching, you never know it in New England, but if you got engaged recently or planning on getting engaged, do you know that during the Great Depression the De Beers family held the rights of most of the diamonds in the world? So if you have an engagement ring that belonged to your family during the Great Depression it may not even have a diamond in it.

Fisher: That’s true, because before the 30s, diamond engagement rings weren’t necessarily a big thing. 

David: That’s true. And so if you have the engagement ring of say a grandparent or parent, take a look at it. Maybe a diamond was added after the fact. They got a new and improved ring. I know when I got engaged I was eighteen and nineteen with my spouse and well, I went to Bradleys and bought a $75 dollar amethyst with a diamond chip, so I can kind of relate. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs] Well the whole thing about this is this diamond company during the Depression, they started a marketing campaign to make engagement rings diamond. Anything less than that “wasn’t good enough for her.” And it’s been like that now for some eighty years.

David: This week’s blogger spotlight is OliveTreeGenealogy.blogspot.com and this Lorine McGinnis Schulze’s blog. On her blog on March 3rd she talks about an app called “With Me” it’s being developed by a South Korean who allows individuals to create avatars of diseased relatives, then take selfies with the avatar and then have conversations with them through avatar via video.

Fisher: Wow! That sounds a little creepy. [Laughs]

David: It really does, but I suppose if it’s part of the mourning process it might be a way to give some closure. But I mean if you’re digging up pictures from ancestors who you don’t know what they really look like.

Fisher: Right.

David: They don’t know what they sound like, or their personality is, having video chats with somebody from before the Revolutionary War might be a little strange.

Fisher: Yeah, yeah. [Laughs]

David: So check this out and more on Lorine’s great blog which we spotlight this week which is OliveTreeGenealogy.blogspot.com. And don’t forget, if you want to become a member of NEHGS and you’ve already become a free guest member of NEHGS, to become a full fledged member use the code EXTREME and save $20 dollars on membership at AmericanAncestors.org. Well, that’s all I have for you this week from Bean Town Fish, talk to you soon.

Fisher: All right my friend, thank you so much. And you can find links to all the things David was just talking about on our website under Show Notes [with each podcast] at ExtremeGenes.com, and coming up next, from LegacyTree.com, our friend Paul Woodbury is going to talk DNA with us, coming fresh off of RootsTech, of course. He’s heard a lot of questions about DNA. Things like “Why do the older people need to be tested first?” And “What about ethnicity tests, what’s the issue with some of those things?” He’ll have answers coming up for you in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.    

Segment 2 Episode 184

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Paul Woodbury

Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and this segment is brought to you by LegacyTree.com, and my good friend Paul Woodbury is on the phone from LegacyTree.com. And Paul, it was great to see you at RootsTech. Lot of questions coming up about DNA and I thought we’d kind of jump right into that. You were hearing a lot of them weren’t you?

Paul: Yes we were. We had a lot of questions at RootsTech and actually one of the things that we try to do at the conferences that we attend is our live DNA Q&A where we host a live stream session on our Facebook page and answer questions about DNA, and this time we got a huge amount of questions, way more than we could even possibly get to. So, some of the most common categories have DNA questions that we got were about ethnicity. “Now I have stories about Native American ancestry and it doesn’t show in my ethnicity, why is that?”

Fisher: Right.

Paul: Or, “I should have 25% Scandinavian and I only have 20%. What’s happening there? How reliable are they?” So, lots of questions about ethnicity. And then we also got lots of questions about “Who should I test in order to explore different DNA research questions?”

Fisher: Sure. Let’s start with the ethnicity question because that does come up an awful lot and maybe you can set me straight a little bit because I’m asked this question an awful lot about “Why I’m not seeing 25% Italian when my grandfather was full blooded Italian?”

Paul: Exactly.

Fisher: Is this because basically when you look at ethnicity, ethnicity tests really don’t know the borders, right? [Laughs] They don’t know which countries are supposed to be where, right?

Paul: Exactly. And really, with ethnicity there are lots of considerations that you have to keep in mind. With the ethnicity estimates, they’re exactly that, they are estimates based off of your DNA where this DNA is coming from. Now things can get really complicated when we try to draw boundaries of where DNA has been historically. What makes DNA unique in specific situations is when it’s isolated for a long time. So, if you have ancestors from an island population like the Azores, it’s going to be really, really obvious that your ancestors came from the Azores because it’s been isolated for a long time and it has had a lot of time to generate lots of unique mutations that make it easy to detect that that’s where it’s coming from.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Paul: However, when you have populations moving back and forth and there’s gene flow between those populations, it actually results in decreased genetic diversity which makes it really hard to tell what is British versus what is Irish versus what is Scandinavia, versus what is French or German.

Fisher: And that of course is because Great Britain has had a lot of movement right, with the Vikings coming in how many years ago, 1500 years ago now?

Paul: Exactly. And particularly with the Vikings you get lots of Scandinavian influence all over Western Europe, islands, the Normans were the Norsemen or were Vikings. And so, you get lots of influence from the Vikings all throughout Western Europe. And so, it’s really hard to delineate those boundaries. My favorite example is what is French?

Fisher:  Yeah. [Laughs]

Paul: You know if you look at the individuals living in Brittany, they’re much more closely related to individuals in the British Isles. If you look at individuals in Alsace-Lorraine, they’re going to be really closely related to Germans. If you look at the individuals in the Basque country and Southern France, they’re going to have a lot more Iberian DNA. And so, it just goes to show that even depending where you are within modern day boundaries of France, those boundaries aren’t necessarily reflective of the genetic reality of those populations.

Fisher: So do you think we’re going to see a time basically where we’re going to be able to say, “Your genes were at this place at this time.” And kind of track that movement?

Paul: I think so, and at RootsTech this year there were several companies that were beginning to explore those, so there’s exciting things on the forefront of ethnicity estimation and exploring where your ancestors were at specific times in history. However, I said this on our DNA Q&A and I will repeat it here, I think that ethnicity estimate and ethnicity analysis are the ugly step sisters of DNA. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs]

Paul: They get all the attention.

Fisher: Yes.

Paul: They get all of the focus when really your Cinderella is your DNA match list.

Fisher: Yes!

Paul: That is what is most useful to you in your genetic genealogy research as you’re incorporating as part of your genealogical research. So we get an awful amount of questions regarding ethnicity saying, “It doesn’t match up exactly as what I expect.” And yeah, we expect that to happen sometimes based on the random amounts of DNA that comes down to you from your ancestors, and you may get 26% or 24% or 20% of Scandinavian rather than the exact amount that you’re expecting. It’s not going to reflect exactly your genealogical values.

Fisher: Right. That’s a really good point. And it’s interesting you said that because I was sitting at a dinner table with some people recently and this whole topic of DNA came up and we started talking about these other aspects of DNA, and he says, “Now wait a minute, if it’s not the ethnicity, what good is it?” [Laughs] And I’m like, “Are you kidding me?!”

Paul: Yeah. [Laughs]

Fisher: I think there’s a lot of assumption of that because you can see how many people match up to you that have no trees up. It’s just that they were obviously doing it just to get the ethnicity report. But it’s really pretty messy, isn’t it?

Paul: It is. And I think that the ethnicity report is great because it does bring in all those additional matches who are interested in that ethnicity breakdown. And it is exciting and it can be useful in particular situations particularly in recent ancestry if you’re working with a brick wall in your recent ancestry, but by and large, most of what I do as a genetic genealogist is deal with DNA relatives, genetic match lists, and working and collaborating with those individuals to find out about our shared common heritage.

Fisher: All right. Let’s get to another question here that we heard a lot of at RootsTech. “Why test the older family members first?”

Paul: Great. So, with Y DNA and Mitochondrial DNA testing, this isn’t as much of a consideration because any Y DNA that I get from my father came from his father and so if I test my Y DNA it’s going to represent my father’s DNA and my grandfather’s DNA and my paternal uncle’s DNA particularly for the Y chromosome, and the same with the Mitochondrial DNA except for along the maternal line. Where this question really comes in to play is with the autosomal DNA.

Fisher: Yep.

Paul: I get 50% of my DNA, my autosomal DNA, from my father and I get 50% of it from my mother. And so, if I perform a DNA test on myself, then if we consider it within the perspective of what I like to call coverage, 50% of my dad’s DNA is in the autosomal DNA database and 50% of my mom’s DNA is in that autosomal DNA database.

Fisher: Right.

Paul: But that’s only 50% of their DNA. If I test them, I can get a 100%. If I test my grandmother, I can get 100% of her DNA in that database to make connections with individuals across the database and to really preserve that DNA and have that as a resource for the future even if she passes away in the future and that is something that I did. People are sometimes surprised because I have been involved in genetic genealogy for quite a while, but I actually didn’t perform DNA testing for myself until just two or three years ago.

Fisher: And so this is really good stuff for chromosome mapping down the line for people who get really deep in the weeds with this.

Paul: Yes. And you know, the reason for that is because I was testing all of my grandparents, all of my great aunts and uncles, my parents, my aunts and uncles and additional relatives before I really got to myself. By doing that I now have the autosomal DNA test results from my grandmother who has passed away, I have additional information for many of my relatives that I would not have otherwise. So it’s really important to test your older relatives before moving on to yourself. They’re going to share double or quadruple the amount of DNA that you do with their close genetic cousins. And that’s really important for making genealogical discoveries. By means of example, if I procrastinate that, then reconstructing and getting a full coverage of my grandmother’s DNA for example, would require me to test at least four of her children.

Fisher: Really?

Paul: Yeah. So a child of an individual is going to inherit 50% from each parent.

Fisher: Right.

Paul: Their sibling is also going to inherit 50% from each parent but it will be a different 50%. They’ll share some DNA in common with their sibling and some not. If you look at two siblings to test, their DNA will cover about 75% of each of their parents’ DNA. If you test three children of a couple, their combined DNA will cover about 87% of their parents’ DNA.

Fisher: Wow!

Paul: And if you test four children of a couple their combined DNA will cover about 94% of that couple’s DNA.

Fisher: And that’s assuming they have four children to test.

Paul: Exactly! Yeah. So I mean, if they don’t have four living children, then you have to go down to the nieces and nephews and you may have to end up doing fourteen or fifteen tests to even get 50% of their DNA covered.

Fisher: [Laughs] So test the old people now!

Paul: Test the old people now!

Fisher: [Laughs]

Paul: And you won’t regret it in the future. I think that increasingly we want to treat DNA as we would any other genealogical resource. However, as genealogists we benefit from a different perspective that archivists took earlier. They preserved records that we benefit from now.

Fisher: Right.

Paul: And so in the DNA perspective if we’re going to benefit from DNA in the future then we need to also start thinking as archivists and thinking about how we’re going to preserve the DNA that’s here now.

Fisher: Boy, great advice. Paul, I wish we had more time because there are so many more questions. Let’s continue this next time we talk in a month or so, okay?

Paul: Sounds great. Thanks for having me.

Fisher: All right, Paul Woodbury from LegacyTree.com, and so great to chat with you again Paul. And on the way next, I’ll talk to Randy Seaver he is the blogger behind GeneaMusings.com talking about his personal genealogy go-over in three minutes on Extreme Genes.

Segment 3 Episode 184

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Randy Seaver

Fisher: And we are back! It is Extreme Genes America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here your Radio Roots Sleuth. And this segment of the show is brought to you by FamilySearch.org. On the line with me right now, one of the bloggers we recently spotlighted that David Allen Lambert recently focused on, he is the man behind GeneaMusings.com, Randy Seaver. Randy, how are you? Great to have you back.

Randy: I’m fine Scott. Good to talk to you.

Fisher: You know, we like to catch up with our blogging friends and find out what’s on their minds these days because you know everybody has something that kind of lights their fire at a given period of time. What are you working on right now?

Randy: Well, I tend to write a lot, two or three blog posts a day kind of keeps me busy.

Fisher: Yes.

Randy: And the genealogy world and my own research I find that I’m getting older and consequently I’m thinking about what happens you know, next.

Fisher: Uh oh.

Randy: What happens at the end?

Fisher: Uh oh.

Randy: And so I want to write books and I want to have a database that will live in perpetuity and things like that and I want it to be good. I want it to be sourced. I want my descendants to know who their ancestors were, and what they did, how they persevered. Consequently, I’m doing what’s called a genealogical go-over and basically this is from the genealogy do-over Thomas MacEntee has been promoting and guiding for researchers on his Geneabloggers blog and he suggested this several years ago in order to refresh your research and maybe start over and source everything. And so the do-over was to put your current tree and documentation aside and start over except for the things that you paid for like certificates or other documents you got from researchers, something like that.

Fisher: Don’t you think there’s a real emphasis right now on sourcing? I mean it seems to be with FamilySearch for instance, that’s their big push is to get people to go on there and link resources to their materials. And as you mentioned, Thomas of course has been pushing it and I found myself doing much the same thing. It’s really fun and you find some things that you miss now and again.

Randy: Well, that’s the whole idea I think. You start with yourself, document your own profile, and then do your parents and your siblings and your grandparents and it goes from there. And people have done this since Thomas laid out a whole year’s program to do it. And basically you’re finding records and you’re citing sources for every relationship and every event in someone’s life, most of us have trees we started a long time ago, and we didn’t source anything and we didn’t make notes.

Fisher: Right.

Randy: We copied out of other people’s trees, things like that.  You know, I did that. Most of us have done that.

Fisher: Isn’t that kind of the mass crowd thinking… we always feel safe when we’re copying the same thing that everybody else has?

Randy: Yeah, and we see beginning genealogists doing that because that’s what they find. They find online trees and they find books with their ancestors in it, so they use that material. So, my thing is I didn’t want to do that.

Fisher: Right. [Laughs]

Randy: Three years ago I had a tree with about forty five thousand people in it and they had a lot of relationships and events that were not sourced and my thought was, “Well, why don’t I just try to improve what I have? I’m probably too old to start over and get to where I’d be in five years say. So what I do now is two things. One is I have this forty five thousand person tree. It’s on Ancestry, it’s on FamilySearch, FamilyTree, it’s on MyHeritage, it’s on FindMyPast, it’s on Genie, it’s on WikiTree etc. And so a lot of those places have hints.

Fisher: Right.

Randy: So I use the hints to find the records and documents and I source those events in my RootsMagic database. And this is what I’m doing, almost every day. I add, it seems like, about a thousand sources a month.

Fisher: Wow!

Randy: So that’s like thirty a day, you know?

Fisher: Yeah, I was going to say, Randy, that by you using RootsMagic then you’re able to actually disseminate these things back out to all the trees, right?

Randy: That’s kind of the theory, yeah. The trees out there I have to keep the way they are so they generate the hints and I can accept or ignore the hints on a rational basis so I don’t duplicate the hints. I don’t want to put a new tree out there and get in another forty thousand hints that I’ve already looked at half of them, that sort of thing.

Fisher: Right. Good point.

Randy: Okay, so that’s the first part of it, is just refreshing and finding stuff. A lot of it is moving the census records, the military records, it’s now wills and probates.

Fisher: Do you post your own circumstantial evidence that you’ve put together, to come to some of your conclusions?

Randy: Yeah, I put those in notes. That’s the next part. The first part is using the hints. The second part is I’m trying to enrich the profiles for each of my ancestors. Meaning, I concentrate on one ancestral family or one ancestor at a time and bring their profiles up to date. I go search on the websites, I look at the hints. I write down a to-do list, what I want to do at the Family History Library the next time I go, or a local library. And so I concentrate on one ancestral family and go through everything that I can on all the resources I have at home. And then I use weekly blog posts to document some of the things like transcriptions of wills, and analysis of documents, land, pension, and probate.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Randy: And then extract information and analysis of records like vital, or church, or census. And then I have blog post themes every week for the transcriptions called the “Amanuensis Monday.” Amanuensis means one who transcribes. And I have about 360 of those now in my hopper. And then I also have a “Treasure Chest Thursday” theme for Thursdays. And I have about almost 400 records that I’ve analyzed, and every time I do this I add the content into my RootsMagic database. So I’m enriching my database all the time.

Fisher: Right, and then documenting exactly how you did it through your blog.

Randy: Exactly. And so based on the records and documents, then I create for this person that I’m focusing on, an inclusive and insistent chronological life sketch in the notes on RootsMagic, and eventually I put that into the life sketch in FamilySearch, FamilyTree too.

Fisher: Do you find yourself focusing first on your direct lines, because you mentioned a database of tens of thousands?

Randy: Yep.

Fisher: I mean, to go through and redo all of them would be years and years worth. Maybe more years than we all have in this world, right?

Randy: Right.

Fisher: You know in my mind I work with two different types of databases. I have my direct line and then I have those with all the descendents in there. And when I go through I really try to focus on the directs first because that’s plenty big enough.

Randy: Exactly. I figured the ancestors are mine, you know?

Fisher: Yeah.

Randy: The collaterals aren’t mine.

Fisher: That’s right.

Randy: And I’m probably the only one researching most of them, at least in the last eight or ten generations.

Fisher: Sure.

Randy: And consequently I want to get a good enough biography that I could publish something about my ancestors. So then, focus on a person and try to update the sketch and things like that. Then I publish on the blog a new biography every week in a theme called “52 ancestors in 52 weeks.” I do that on Friday. This was started by Amy Johnson Crow three years ago.

Fisher: Right.

Randy: So I’m in the fourth year of this. I have 166 biographies now from my ancestors. And you think that’s not very many.

Fisher: Ooh I don’t know, I think that’s incredible.

Randy: This is kind of the power of blogging too. One of the things this does for me is it keeps me focused on advancing my research. I can’t let things ride. Otherwise the hints get overwhelming. [Laughs] So I publish a biography. I use an individual summary port template in RootsMagic to create the template of the model of it, and then I source all the events and also add sources to the life sketch narrative that I produce. After that, I add the source documents and the life sketch to the FamilySearch, FamilyTree profiles for those folks. And so, after three years I have 166 biographies done, doing one a week. Now, to go back to your point, I have about twenty two hundred known ancestors back into the 1500s.

Fisher: Right.

Randy: So I have my work cut out for me till about the year 2060.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Randy: Maybe my grandchildren will carry it on you know, I don’t know! [Laughs]

Fisher: I think your doctors have their work cut out for them till the year 2060! [Laughs] He’s Randy Seaver. He’s the blogger behind GeneaMusings.com. What a great idea to hear how you’re doing with your genealogy go-over. Thanks so much for your time Randy, good to have you back on again!

Randy: Okay, thank you Scott. Good talking to you.

Fisher: And coming up next, it is our Preservation Authority Tom Perry, answering another listener question, frankly one that’s got me just a little concerned. That’s coming up for you in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 184

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: It is time to talk preservation on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth. That is Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, he is our Preservation Authority. Hi Tom, how are you?

Tom: Hello, super!

Fisher: All right, our email today is from Dennis Lazenby. [Laughs] I don't know what he's talking about here. This is the alphabet soup thing. So, you know, if you're all sitting there thinking, "Oh man, he knows everything about it." Forget it! Listen to this, "Can you digitize Betacam SP and DVCPRO HD to ProRes on my hard drive?" What the heck does that mean, Tom!?

Tom: Yes, we can! [Laughs]

Fisher: Oh, for goodness sake!

Tom: They’re professional formats like TV stations use when they're shooting music videos, any high end stuff. Betacam SP is one of the best tape formats they had. After that came Digibeta, but Betacam was really good. Remember the old Betamax from the old days that lost to VHS?

Fisher: In the ‘70s.

Tom: Right. Even though it was a better format, it lost out. So Sony thought, "Well, okay, we messed up. Let's take Betamax and see what we can do." They came out with Betacam, which is like, incredible. That's what all the studios used to use back in the day and all the TV stations, everybody used Betacam. Then they had Betacam SP and Digibeta. And then later on, they came out with another one called DVCPRO, which was Panasonic's real high end thing to compete with Betacam.

Fisher: How do you keep track of all this stuff?

Tom: I don't know. Somehow it’s in the cobwebs upstairs.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: And so, basically what happened is, everybody tried working together again. And so, Panasonic came out with DVCPRO and Sony came out with DV Cam and they were supposed to be universal, and at the last minute they had a part in ways and they weren't. So these are professional formats. They're still around. You can still get equipment. When these first came out, the decks were like $30,000!

Fisher: Whoa!!

Tom: They were very, very expensive. And so, I'm assuming from Dennis that he has some stuff from maybe when he used to work in a TV station or maybe he shot professional NFL, but now he wants to put them in high definition so he can edit them.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: And so now what ProRes is, ProRes is kind of new. It’s what Apple developed for Final Cut Pro. It’s the absolute best way to preserve something without compressing it. Like when you go into MP4s or AVIs or MOVs, they compress them. So ProRes is totally uncompressed, so it’s absolutely awesome. And we do this a lot with film. When we're scanning film for people, if they're making a documentary, like we just did something for somebody a couple of weeks ago, that they're making an Elizabeth Smart documentary. And so what we had to do is, we had to do that in a higher format, so that they could edit it and do the right things with it. The drawback to ProRes, if you want to call it a drawback, it can only be used with Final Cut Pro, which is an Apple product, so your Windows, it won't do you any good.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: You won't be able get to this high of quality. You've got to get a Mac. And this is a good reason to go buy a Mac.

Fisher: Okay. Is this something that people will use for genealogy, generally?

Tom: Oh yeah! Oh absolutely! The thing is, we have, and we've talked about this on the show before, you have to figure out what your end game is, where you want to be at the end when you're all done transferring, scanning and all these kinds of things, what your ultimate goal is, and then work backwards to find out where you need to start. You know, if you're going to be running a trucking company hauling dirt, you don't want a station wagon. You want something with an open bed.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: So same thing, people need to call us or whoever your local transfer people are and say, "Okay, my goal is to have these slides just so I can watch them on the computer. I'm never going to make prints, any of this kind of stuff." So you don't have to do like 3400dpi if that's all you're going to be doing, so it saves you some money. So basically tie it down to this same thing, we just within the last couple of weeks upgraded our film scanner. Now it’s even better. It’s called a universal HD. And you look at our old stuff and it looks great that we were doing two months ago.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: But you look at this, and if you get really, really, close, it’s even sharper. And it’s like, "Okay, this is crazy." So that's why we say, don't ever throw anything that's optical away, whether its slides, film, negatives, because there's always going to be something better, and we have this now.

Fisher: When are we going to get to the top of the mountain, Tom?

Tom: Probably about the same time the meteor hits the earth and destroys it!

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah. All right, this segment is brought to you be 23andMe.com DNA. What have we got coming up next?

Tom: Let's talk some more about editing and some different things that you can do to improve your quality of what you're doing on your transfers, and also some ways to save some money.

Fisher: All right, coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 184

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: I've got to admit, Tom, I still get a little intimidated when I hear all this alphabet soup when it comes to technology. It is Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. We're talking preservation with Tom Perry. And this email we got from Dennis about things I've never heard of, and that frightens me.

Tom: No problem. That's why I'm across the table from you.

Fisher: Yes, exactly! All right, most people don't need things to this level obviously, which is why most of us have never heard of some of these things, you know, the DVCPRO HD, Betacam SP.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: This is professional stuff. So let's talk a little about what people generally need and the best way to go about it and the best way to save money.

Tom: Absolutely. And kind of we left off in the last segment about this you need to find out what your end goal is. And I tell people, don't say "I can't afford this right now. I'm going to put it off." If you can't afford the deluxe program, do something basic to at least get it stopped from your needing more color correction, because they fade, you know.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: They fade day to day to day. So what you need to do is, when you're calling your transfer place, whether it’s us or anybody else out there, we always tell you what questions to ask. Make sure they're scanning your film. If they say they're scanning, say, "Oh, I want jpegs with all my frames as well." And if they say, "Oh, that's not an option." then walk away because they're not really scanning.

Fisher: Okay, but his email had to do with videos, right?

Tom: Right.

Fisher: But that could also cover film.

Tom: Exactly. Exactly, anything that's going to deteriorate. And so with film, like we were talking about this new universal HD we have which is sharper than the old. I mean, the old is incredible. And this is even more incredible! But sometimes people say, "I just want to get something really inexpensive. I can't afford the high definition stuff." Your high definition, which is 1080p x 16 x 9, if you've ever looked for a new TV, you know what those numbers mean. And it’s great! It’s more than what anybody out there needs. And it generally runs, if the people are being legit and really doing that, it ranges about 22 cents a foot. That's what we would charge. Most good people around you are going to charge.

Fisher: And that's video and film?

Tom: No, that's film only.

Fisher: Film only, all right.

Tom: Film is charged by the foot, where video is usually charged by the minute or the hour.

Fisher: Okay.

Tom: So with this, if you say, "Hey, that's great. I've got, you know, 10,000 feet or 1000 feet or 500 feet. And I'd really love to do it, but there's no way in the world I can afford it right now." We have another option, as most of the other people do, too, it’s still scanned, it’s still high definition, but instead of being 1080p 16 x 9, its 960 x 720, which is what the old widescreen TVs were. It still looks great.

Fisher: So this is like the old formatting. And we see… like we watch on TV shows once in a while and they say, "This has been reformatted, so it will fit your television."

Tom: Right.

Fisher: This is kind of the original dimensions.

Tom: It’s just that, if you get real close to the image, so to speak, and if you could actually see the dots, like you can in a newspaper photograph, there's going to be more dots than 1080p 16 x 9, than there is in the 960 x 720. So if you go into like a store that sells televisions, they're going to have a whole bunch of televisions up there and they're usually all playing the same video feed.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: So you can go to some that say 1080p x 16 x 9 and the other ones are going to say 960 x 720. So you can physically see the difference. And if you look at that and say, "Hey, I really do like the 1080p. However, the 960 is okay, and we can do that now." So then you're only looking at about 14 cents a foot.

Fisher: Wow!

Tom: So it’s quite a bit cheaper, especially if you have a ton.

Fisher: A third at least, yeah.

Tom: So that's the way to go. So talk to your people. Make sure you ask the right questions. It’s still scanned. It’s still frame by frame it just doesn't have the resolution that the 1080p has. So if it’s like, "Hey, I can afford to do the 14 cents a foot right now. I'd love to do the 22, but I can't." Then do it! Get it done. Get it stopped from fading. And get it all transferred, because maybe your kids one day, they'll have more money and they'll want to go and do it the other way. And then you can go into color correction and get DaVinci which we've talked about before, which is a great program that's free. And with those programs, you can edit on either Windows or Mac. And then let us know whether you want AVIs, if you want MOVs, if you want MP4s.

Fisher: All right, [email protected]. Good to see you again, Tom. Thanks.

Tom: You bet. My pleasure!

Fisher: Hey, that's a wrap on this week's show. This segment has been brought to you by MyHeritage.com. Thanks for joining us. Don't forget to go to ExtremeGenes.com or our Facebook page and get signed up for our Weekly Genie newsletter. We've got links to all kinds of great interviews, past and present, some great stories, and I give you a column each week. And if you missed any of the show, don't forget to catch the podcast on iTunes, iHeart Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. Talk to you next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

Subscribe now to find out why hundreds of thousands of family researchers listen to Extreme Genes every week!

Email me new episodes