Episode 274 - RootsTech Review / Woodbury On New DNA Tools / Host Debenham On New Season Of Relative Race On BYUtv

podcast episode Mar 17, 2019

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. The guys give a brief overview of some of their highlights from the recent RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. David reveals what he feels is an up and coming company in the field. The guys then talk about a recent article out of Boston posted on ExtremeGenes.com about support groups for people who get unexpected results from their DNA tests. Then, it’s another new DNA tool coming soon to MyHeritage.com. Hear what it is. And a man who sold a VHS machine on eBay recently received a wonderful surprise and is now paying it forward. Find out what happened. David’s Blogger Spotlight this week shines on GeneabloggersTribe.com, which hosts several family history bloggers.

Next, Fisher brings back DNA specialist Paul Woodbury from Legacy Tree Genealogists. Paul talks about important new tools from Ancestry and MyHeritage that were released during RootsTech and what makes them exciting for any family researcher.

Fisher then visits with Dan Debenham, host of KBYUtv’s Relative Race. Season 5 is underway, and Dan fills us in on what we can look forward to this time around!

Then, Tom Perry, our Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com, talks about the history of home movies and certain types of audio.

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

Transcript of Episode 274

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 274

Fisher: Welcome to America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. My name is Fisher. I am your Radio Roots Sleuth, on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. And this episode is brought to you by Relative Race on BYUtv. It’s back for Season 5 this weekend, yes Sunday night, March 10th 9 o’clock Eastern, 6 o’clock Pacific. And later on in the show we’re going to talk to Dan Debenham, the host, about this coming season, so it is going to be a lot of fun. Well, how are you? Nice to have you back after RootsTech. If you’re not familiar with what that is, RootsTech is the world’s largest family history conference, and it took place in Salt Lake City, Utah, February 27th through March 2nd and I’ll tell you what, it is a party and a reunion, kind of in its own way. And we’re going to talk about that coming up here in just a little bit because there were some real highlights to it, and some major announcements, and that’s why coming up in about nine minutes, we’re going to talk to Paul Woodbury from Legacy Tree Genealogists. He is the DNA Specialist there about some really incredible new tools being announced by both Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.com. So, we’ll get into that, coming right up. Hey, don’t forget to sign up for our “Weekly Genie Newsletter,” it is absolutely free. You can do it through our website ExtremeGenes.com or on our Facebook page. Right now, it is time to head off to Boston to speak with the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. It is David Allen Lambert. Have you recovered from the conference my friend?

David: My voice is finally back now Fish. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah.

David: Talking to hundreds of people including a lot of our genies that came over for selfies during our meet up, which was lots of fun, you know. You don’t usually get to see these people.

Fisher: That’s true. And I got to do some amazing interviews that we’re going to be sharing on the show here in the coming weeks. Patricia Heaton from Everybody Loves Raymond, you’re going to want to hear her family story, plus Derek Hough from Dancing with the Stars. Saroo Brierly, I think, he was a real highlight for me. He was the man from India who was a five year old, got on a train and wound up ultimately, being adopted in Australia because they couldn’t figure out where he came from. And he had to find his way back home using Google Earth. You know the story. It’s from the movie Lion.

David: I do.

Fisher: And he gave an amazing keynote speech there, and I got to spend some one-on-one time with him, so you’ll get to hear that in the coming weeks here on Extreme Genes. All right David, let’s start with what happened at RootsTech because I think there was some real highlight for all of us.

David: Well, I’ll tell you, Steve Rockwood has it right in the term Connect / Belong, is true when you use the app. I connected and had connections with 4,700 attendees of RootsTech through the app. It was amazing.

Fisher: And this is a special feature on FamilySearch.org on the mobile device. If you attended the conference, you could push this button and would compare the trees of all the attendees who were there, and then tell you who you were related to, and what the relationship is. Of course, the connections have to be right for it to be accurate. For instance, David, you and I showed up as cousins but it was through a wrong entry on the family tree.

David: [Laughs]

Fisher: But nonetheless, it was really a lot of fun, and then you could actually message that person and maybe meet them. I remember last year somebody wound up with a whole batch of photographs from another side of the family because of somebody they met using that device.

David: It’s amazing. One of the things that I do at RootsTech, Fish, is I try to go around and see what new companies are out there. And sometimes they’re in the back or way in the corner, but sometimes they’re really amazing. This one is called thememories.com and what they do is they piece together a life story of a loved one that may have just died, or may have died 20 years ago. For $95 this life story allows you with a photo gallery, guest book. There are no ads. There is one price. It’s kind of like what “Forever” does on photographs, but this is kind of taking your memories, but it’s like another way of having an obituary out there that won’t disappear. You know, on ExtremeGenes.com, I’m always finding great new stories. In the Boston Globe they had an article recently that they put on there with regards to DNA kits. Well, everybody’s tried a DNA kit, but have you had need for a support group? Now, they can connect you with support groups because sometimes the results aren’t exactly what you expect them to be.

Fisher: Yeah, that’s true, and we’ve talked about this many times on the show before that we’re seeing more and more people getting unexpected results and it’s life altering in many cases. And so this is why these support groups have come around, some with as many as 5,000 people on there who got an unexpected DNA result, all helping each other.

David: Well, I’ll tell you, speaking of unexpected DNA results, don’t throw away those little letters that your mom and dad sent to each other if you don’t have their DNA, because companies like My Heritage are now able to take and get DNA from licked stamps and licked envelopes. Now, this isn’t something new. Obviously, we know that Living DNA has recently done it. This cost around $400 to $600 and it’s something that might be growing in the industry, especially for people who collect autographs. You might end up with an envelope of someone like Abraham Lincoln and maybe you can get his DNA from it.

Fisher: Wouldn’t that be crazy? [Laughs] It would be so much fun. I don’t think MyHeritage is quite there yet, but they’re very close. And I know for instance that Gilad Japhet who is the head of MyHeritage, he collects autographs. So, you might see some famous DNA up on MyHeritage sometime soon as a result of his collection, and I think that would be a lot of fun.  

David: Uh oh.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Investigation begins. [Laughs]

Fisher: And there’s a great story by the way about this on ExtremeGenes.com.

David: On ExtremeGenes.com you’ll also find a great story about someone who bought a VHS on eBay. You might think it’s not really that important, but if you’re 86 years old and all these memories are locked up in VHS tapes, this is a way to relive your family memories. The nicest story about this? The person that sold it to him now wants to digitize all this man’s VHS tapes so he can have them digitally forever. Well, you know bloggers I think, like to preserve stories too. And if you’re not a member of the “tribe” GeneabloggersTribe.com is my blogger spotlight this week. So, it goes out to all those great bloggers in the genealogical blogger universe that are part of this tribe that allow people to share ideas, share their blog and interact with each other. So, if you’re not aware of GeneabloggersTribe.com, check it out. Well, if you haven’t made it to Boston where our snow is starting to melt, and if you want to visit us virtually, AmericanAncestors by the New England Historic Genealogical Society, you can join and save $20 by using the check out code “Extreme.”

Fisher: All right David, thanks so much. Great talking to you. And coming up next we are going to talk to my good friend Paul Woodbury from Legacy Tree Genealogists about the amazing new tools that have been announced at RootsTech by Ancestry.com and MyHeritage. How is it going to affect your efforts? We’ll find out next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 274

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Paul Woodbury

Fisher: Welcome back to America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth fresh back from RootsTech in Salt Lake City, Utah where the largest family history conference in the world has just been completed. Of course, they are going to be doing another one in London coming up in October, very nice. But I’ll tell you, the buzz of the conference happened to be the announcements of all these improvements involving DNA test results from Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com, and elsewhere. And I’ve got my good friend Paul Woodbury on the line right now from Legacy Tree Genealogists, and Paul, how are you?

Paul: I’m doing great. Thanks for having me, Scott.

Fisher: Is your head exploding from all these changes and investigating them?

Paul: Yeah, I’ve got some homework to do. I’ve got some catching up to do. It’s been fascinating to see some of the new tools and some of the discoveries that they are enabling even within these few days since release.

Fisher: Yeah, you know, 30 minutes I think, after Ancestry announced Thru-Lines as a beta tool, I went in and discovered a fourth cousin match to my third great grandmother that I had never found before. No connection (ever). And what was fascinating to me was is she only had on her tree back to her grandparents, and since I’ve got a lot of descendants on my tree, somehow this went in and connected back to her grandparents even to her mother and figured this line out. So, if she finds me through the same method, she’ll go from her grandparents back three more generations to our common third great grandmother and then that line and her third great grandfather’s line will go back to the late 1500s. That will be quite a find for her.

Paul: Yeah, and that is just one example of many that I’ve heard of, the types of discoveries that are already being made.

Fisher: Yeah, it’s pretty exciting. Now, the negative buzz I was hearing at RootsTech surrounding this is that people were kind of discouraged because there are adoptive names that are on people’s trees and they are connecting into that DNA matches or suddenly finding out oh, well you’re related to this person, where it’s actually an adoptive parent whether it’s a recent parent or a grandparent or a great grandparent, or something along those lines. Are you hearing that too? 

Paul: I have been hearing that as well, but I don’t think that that’s much different than what some of the challenges that we were running into before with some of these hinted generating technologies that even if you get a hint on how you might be related to someone, it’s important that you take the process to verify it and to evaluate if that potential clue is valid or if it’s not correct.

Fisher: Yeah, and consider also too the possibility that you had the wrong ancestor there, and there are plenty of those, and probably plenty more of those than there are adoptive parents.

Paul: Yes, yes.

Fisher: All right. And now Ancestry had a second thing that came out that you have to opt in for right now and it’s called My Tree Tags. And with My Tree Tags you could actually put little notes, basically with the page of your ancestor, put “brick wall,” or “DNA confirmed,” something along these lines. I think that’s really useful and I’m sure they’re going to increase the number of options you have. You can even make a custom tag which I really like as well.

Paul: Yeah, that will be really helpful for using pedigree charts as a tool for research and kind of organizing your research rather than the final repository where you put everything after you’ve gone through all those research processes. So, I think it can be really useful to have those notes, those tags available to help you keep track of where you are on the different lines that you’re working on. At the moment I have fifteen different lines that I’m working on, and at any given time, and it’s hard to keep track of them all so I hope that that will be helpful in that way.

Fisher: Yeah absolutely.  And then there’s this other thing that isn’t out quite yet and I don’t remember the name of it, but basically there are 24 different categories you’re going to be able to assign your people to. So, in the past where you maybe just put a star next to the name of an ancestor, you can now basically categorize which branch of the family a DNA match falls into.

Paul: Yeah, and so that is called the new and improved DNA matches. And actually you can gain access to it by logging into your Ancestry account, clicking on “Extras,” and then selecting the Ancestry Lab, and then you can enable that new and improved DNA matches. It is currently in beta but then you can start playing around with some of those labels. What’s nice about that is that you can use it to filter relationships between people. You can assign people to groups that you may be researching based on their relationships to each other, and this is primarily for your DNA match list at Ancestry. It’s similar to the DNA match labeling add-on that was available through chrome that Blaine Bettinger created a little while ago, but have a few more categories available, has more colors you can add to the different matches. It’s really helpful for helping you to visually see how people are related to each other and begin sorting people into clusters in your DNA match list.

Fisher: Well, imagine how helpful that would be just to divide them among your four grandparents, or your eight great grandparents. That would be monstrously beneficial.

Paul: Yeah. Because there’s 24 categories, there are eight colors and there’s three different hues of each color. And so, what I’ve started doing is, I’ve started assigning people to each of my great, great grandparents and you can also assign people to multiple categories. I’ve assigned my mother to all 16 of those relatives that’s from that side of her family tree.

Fisher: That’s incredibly useful. Now let’s switch over to My Heritage because they’ve come out with some things, somewhat similar but definitely different, The Theory of Family Relativity appears very similar in many ways to the Thru-Lines visual for DNA matches. Would you agree?

Paul: Yeah, I would. It’s very similar, a very similar idea in that you attach your family tree, other matches in your match list also attach their family trees. It’s something that is really exciting about The Theory of Family Relativity is that it’s not just limited to those two family trees. It can jump between family trees, between record sets. I’ve seen examples linking up to five record sets where it starts with your family tree, jumps to another public member family tree, jumps to the 1860 US census, jumps to another family tree, and then finally gets to the short study tree of your match that maybe only includes maybe their parents and grandparents, and even though they’ve only included that very little amount of information, it’s still able to make that connection. That being said, as with Thru-Lines, and The Theory of Family Relativity, I think they’ve made that nicely because it is something that we need to explore, that we need to, before completely accepting and determining if this theory applies to our family, we need to explore and make sure that the connections that they’ve drawn are accurate.

Fisher: Yeah. That’s right because you can pick up on adoptive parents and just incorrect information.

Paul: Absolutely. With that, I think that it’s important that we realize that a clue is a clue, and although yes, we have to consider the circumstances and the nature of compiled records that we’re often relying on in these technologies, we have to be aware of the elements and the characteristics of that source that it can be inaccurate. That information is valuable information and it’s not something that we should throw out the door entirely right out of its hat. But that is something that we should consider as evidence and treat it as evidence in conjunction with all the other things that we’re considering and evaluating and analyzing.

Fisher: Exactly. All right, and then the other big thing that they’re doing at My Heritage, and I love this, I played with it just yesterday. It’s called Auto Clusters and it basically takes all your matches and shows you visually how they all connect, one to another, one to you, shared matches, this type of thing. And then you can go through and say look at this, I didn’t realize these people tied in with us. And from there you can draw some conclusions as well as to which particular ancestor you all share. And I got a few new leads as to people who could help me potentially break a brick wall as a result of Auto Clusters.

Paul: Yeah, Auto Clusters is a really exciting new development for My Heritage DNA. And the Auto Clustering tool that they’re providing is in partnership with EJ Bloom from the Netherlands. He is the creator of Genetic Affairs. So, you can get similar graphs of the data that you get from the My Heritage Auto Cluster at the other companies by looking at Genetic Affairs. And what’s really exciting about these graphs is it takes genetic networks from the backroom where for a long time we’ve been doing genetic networks but it’s been really difficult. It requires very specific software to be able to download, and then change the headings on the data, and then upload it somewhere else, and then do a network graph, and then take that data and put it elsewhere.

Fisher: Wow!

Paul: It’s a really complicated process.

Fisher: Yes. And who’s going to do it? [Laughs]

Paul: So this idea of Genetic Affairs and the DNA clustering tool available from My Heritage which makes that tool available at My Heritage is fantastic because it takes genetic networks, which are extremely helpful and valuable for our research, and brings them into the limelight and makes it much more simple and straight forward and intuitive to use.

Fisher: Absolutely. I couldn’t have said it better myself Paul. [Laughs] Well, I’ll tell you what, these are exciting times for us.

Paul: Absolutely.

Fisher: Anybody who’s looking into DNA and trying to find the matches and the potential of breaking brick walls, and I’m really looking forward to hearing of more and more listeners doing that through using these tools. So, thanks so much as always Paul for coming on. You’re a genius and it was great seeing you at Roots Tech and we’ll talk to you again soon.

Paul: All right, sounds good. Thanks Fish.

Fisher: That’s Paul Woodbury from Legacy Tree Genealogists. And coming up next, we’re going to talk to Dan Debenham. He’s the host of Relative Race. It starts again this weekend. It’s coming up next in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.      

Segment 3 Episode 274

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Dan Debenham

Fisher: Hey, we’re back at it! It’s Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and everybody’s getting revved up for it again. Another season of Relative Race is coming to BYUtv.

Dan: [Vroom] [Vroom]

Fisher: And look who’s here, it’s my friend the host of the show. It’s Dan Debenham!

Dan: Hey, when you said we’re getting revved up, did you hear my engine? I had started the engine vroom vroom?

Fisher: I picked right up on it. It was frightening.

Dan: That’s more like a motorcycle.

Fisher: Actually, I was looking around wondering who was coming into the studio with what.

Dan: There you have it.

Fisher: Hey, how are you?

Dan: I’m good. How are doing Fish?

Fisher: Great! Good to see you again and here comes what, season 5 already?

Dan: Season 5. It seems like we just started talking about this whole concept last year and yet it’s been four years and now we’re doing two seasons per year, per calendar year.

Fisher: Yes! Season 5 airs this weekend, Sunday night 9 o’ clock Eastern and 6 o’ clock Pacific.

Dan: And season 6 which we are casting for right now will air next fall. So, we’re at it.

Fisher: Wow. Yes you are at it and it’s exciting. I was thinking about just last year and how everybody was so into it. You actually had to eliminate somebody early for some drama.

Dan: Ooh. I get asked about that all the time.

Fisher: I bet you do and your lips are just sealed.

Dan: I just spoke at a conference.

Fisher: I know that’s true.

Dan: Yeah no, the Blue Team we wished them well as they had to exit a little early.

Fisher: [Laugh]

Dan: But we’ve got four new teams that are phenomenal for season 5.

Fisher: Really?

Dan: Team Blue this coming season are Demetrius and Chonta Flowers. They actually met in the Marine Corps. He is a Special Agent for Homeland Security.

Fisher: Ooh.

Dan: She is a fitness guru. Although, he’s got guns and I’m not talking guns like Marine or... he is built man.

Fisher: [Laugh]

Dan: And they are looking for Demetrius’s father, a really beautiful story there. And then, Team Black we have identical twin sisters, although, since one has dyed her hair it’s easy to distinguish the two.

Fisher: That’s good probably though, isn’t it? I mean for the sake of the show and trying to follow who's who.

Dan: Of course. Yeah, Team Black Kristin and Kaley.

Fisher: Did you demand that of them, by the way?

Dan: No, no, no. That’s the way they were when they submitted.

Fisher: Okay.

Dan: And they are also looking for their father. They’re from Florida. And then, Team Green are Marcus Taylor and Keith Breedlove. They were separated at birth, adopted by two different families and then they reconnected a few years ago. They found each other in LA.

Fisher: Through DNA?

Dan: You know, that's a great question. I’m not sure if it was through DNA that they found each other. I know that we use DNA for all of our research. And they are looking for Marcus’s father and what’s really interesting is that Marcus is a professional break dancer. He’s a street dancer in LA.

Fisher: Really?

Dan: He’s a phenomenal dancer and you get to see that on the show but he’s looking for his father and I can tell you that there is an enormous twist that happens in this show very early on. And I will say that it does have to do with Team Green. And then, we have Team Red and they are adopted sisters.

Fisher: Wow.

Dan: So, they don't share blood but they were adopted by a nun. Now I’m serious.

Fisher: Really?

Dan: They were adopted by a nun who left the covenant to adopt these two girls. So, they are adopted sisters. One has met her biological mother but doesn't know her biological father and the other sister doesn't know her biological mother or her biological father. And that’s Team Red.

Fisher: Wow!

Dan: It is a really great show.

Fisher: Well, for anybody who is into research and putting the puzzle together.

Dan: Yes.

Fisher: You know, I talk to people every day for a little advice about this or some thoughts on that problem and I think half of the fun is putting the puzzle together but the overwhelming emotion of it all.

Dan: Yeah.

Fisher: When you actually can pull off something especially for people with that big hole in their lives and they’ve had it for so long. It’s really overwhelming.

Dan: Yeah.

Fisher: A lot of times I’m just sitting there with a Kleenex and saying, hey, I’m a manly man. I don’t cry. I don’t cry for TV shows.

Dan: Yeah, you will when you watch this show.

Fisher: [Laughs] You do.

Dan: You know what Scott, in case some of your listeners don't know the concept of the show, do you mind if I just real quickly?

Fisher: Yeah no, I think you’re right there are plenty who haven’t seen the show before.

Dan: Yeah.

Fisher: It’s on BYUtv which is a nationwide network. It gets into like what, 75 million households?

Dan: I think its 80 million now.

Fisher: Really? Okay.

Dan: About 80 million households or you can watch them if you’ve got Amazon Prime or Hulu, or any of those. Or you can always just watch online at RelativeRace.com. The concept of the show is really wonderful. We cast four teams and traditionally they were married couples but now it can be a father and a son, or a mother and daughter, or siblings. And then we take those four teams and fly them out to an undisclosed location. We take away all of their tethers to technology, give them old fashioned flip phones and paper maps.

Fisher: Yeah.

Dan: Identical cars and then text them with clues that they follow to reach a different city each day of the race. There are ten days of racing. There are ten episodes. As they reach that city they then follow the clues as they overcome challenges. To knock on a door and behind that door is a relative that they never knew they had and they have never met before and they race all day long. If you're the last one to find your relative everyday you receive a strike. Three strikes and you’re off the show.

Fisher: Yeah.

Dan: If you make it all the way to day ten and then win day ten you also win 50,000 dollars. So, it’s called Relative Race. And as we say the only thing these teams know is when they knock on the door and that door swings open, on the other side is family.

Fisher: Somebody they’re related to.

Dan: Somebody they’re related to. More often than not it’s a brother or a sister, an uncle or an aunt, a mother or a father. And it is so strong. It’s so real. It is so wonderful. I don’t know how else to describe it.

Fisher: And I love the fact that you guys don’t mess with the show.

Dan: No.

Fisher: This is a real reality show.

Dan: Yeah. We don’t tell them what to say, how to say it, when to say it. We have 40 different cameras rolling at all times and we are capturing the moment, in the moment. And when they knock on that door, the door swings open and they ask the obvious question which is, “Are you our relative?” The answer is yes. Then the next follow up is, “Well who are you related to?”

Fisher: Which one of the two on the team, right?

Dan: Which one of the two on the team are you related to? And then they pause and look at somebody. In your case, let’s use you. They would look at you and very often say something like, “Scott, I’m your brother.”

Fisher: Oh, wow! [Laughs]

Dan: Yeah it just really takes people and it's real and the tears are real and the emotions are real. It’s just a wonderful, amazing experience. It’s an amazing ride.

Fisher: You know, there are not a lot of television shows that can really withstand the idea of appointment watching anymore.

Dan: That’s a good point.

Fisher: This one can.

Dan: Yeah.

Fisher: And it’s on Sunday nights.

Dan: Sunday nights nationwide.

Fisher: Yep, 9 o’ clock Eastern, 6 o’ clock Pacific. You know where you are in between, sorry we skip you so much.

Dan: [Laughs] Mountain and central.

Fisher: Mountain and central you know who you are and it is so much fun to watch. Now, I’m wondering about the cars Dan.

Dan: Yes.

Fisher: Last season we saw Joe and Jerica had a mishap with one of the cars.

Dan: Oh my goodness! They literally had a big huge truck that ran them off the road.

Fisher: Yeah, they could have rolled very easily.

Dan: It was scary. That was the scariest thing that has happened so far.

Fisher: Has there been damage to these cars that you’ve had to fix?

Dan: There has been damage a couple of times. In fact, I will tell you, you’ll see an “oops moment.”

Fisher: Oh.

Dan: Not an oops on the production company.

Fisher: Oh.

Dan: No, no and I will tell you that it’s actually funny because absolutely nobody got harmed in any way, shape, or form. It’s not funny for me because we own the cars.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Dan: But you will see a moment that you’re just going, did they just do that to that car? [Laughs] It’s not funny but it is funny.

Fisher: Well, it’s even less funny for your insurance company I’m sure.

Dan: Oh, you can’t believe what the insurance is for this show.

Fisher: [Laughs] I’m sure that’s absolutely true.

Dan: [Laughs]

Fisher: He’s Dan Debenham. He is the host of Relative Race on BYUtv. Season 5 is underway this weekend with the first episode.

Dan: That’s right.

Fisher: And you can catch it Sunday nights at 9 o’ clock Eastern, 6 o’ clock Pacific. Thanks so much for dropping by Dan.

Dan: It is great to be here!

Fisher: As always! And coming up next it is time to talk preservation with our good friend Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 274

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And welcome back to America's Family History Show. It’s Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and Tom Perry is back on the line from TMCPlace.com, he's our Preservation Authority, on the road. And Tom, this is really interesting, we've been talking off air about all the film you've been getting in and you would think, at this point in time, you wouldn't be getting so much film that so many people will have already digitized their materials.

Tom: That is absolutely correct. I would have thought it would have started to go down, because of so many people that have come in and had it transferred, but people are living longer now. And so grandma and grandpa are living into almost their 90s and sometimes even 100s. And so, you don't get the opportunity to go through their attics and their basements and find all these wonderful treasures that have been laying there just waiting for one day to be released.

Fisher: So let me ask you this, what kind of films are you getting, because there's quite a history back there. Are you still seeing some 16mm come in?

Tom: Oh absolutely. In fact, at RootsTech, we had somebody bring us some 16mm film. The majority of the film they had was 8mm, but somehow they ended up with a piece of 16mm, which a lot of people don't realize that 8 and super8 actually grew out of 16mm, has taken something that's more theatrical and making it affordable that ma and pa could use.

Fisher: Yeah, that's interesting, because I was looking at some of the history of this stuff as we're talking about it, and it says, 16mm film was economical. And it started around 1923 from Eastman Kodak. Now get this, Tom, Eastman Kodak released the first 16mm outfit in 1923 and it consisted of, a camera and a splicer and a tripod and a screen and a projector, all for a mere $335 in 1923. [Laughs]

Tom: Wow!

Fisher: That was a chunk of money.

Tom: That is crazy! I'm going to go get my DeLorean and when we're done recording, I'm going to go back to '23 and buy a couple dozen of those machines and bring them back to here, and I can probably sell them for about three grand a piece!

Fisher: Yes! Yes! RCA Victor introduced a 16mm sound movie projector in 1932 and developed an optical sound on film, 16mm camera that was released in 1935. Now interestingly, you kind of mentioned here that this actually led to 8mm film. That came out around 1935 as well. So that was for home use. So a lot of photographers now are becoming movie photographers. And that was the thing, 8mm film until 1965 when super8 came out. What's the difference between super8 and 8?

Tom: Okay, super8 goes through the camera faster, so you're getting more images, so it’s like, today it’s the difference between standard definition and high definition, 4k. The faster the film's going through the camera, the more frames you're getting per second or like dots per inch on a photo, so you're getting more information. So super8s going through faster. So if you look at it, the holes are smaller and closer together in a super8 film, whereas in a regular8 film, they're kind of more square and they're farther apart. So that's how you tell the difference.

Fisher: Now, you know the old movies that go back, say, World War I, and we see everybody's walking really fast and everything's moving really fast, what was that kind of film?

Tom: That would have been either 16mm or 8mm. And the reason people are walking fast is because in the old days, they didn't have the battery technology we had. And a lot of the old cameras were wind up, you'd crank them up, wind them up. And as things got weaker, the batteries got weaker or the winder got less and less power behind it, it started sending less and less film through the camera. So, when you take that film and project it at normal speed, it’s making everything go faster. So, slower through the camera, faster through the projector.

Fisher: Wow, that's fascinating stuff! Well, that's good! You know, get a little historical overview of what kind of film people may have sitting up in their attic and what time period we're talking about. And coming up next in the next segment, let's kick around the audio that you've been getting, because some people are finding some things they don't even recognize are audio recordings. That's coming up next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 274

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: We're back. It’s our final segment of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority. And last segment, we were talking about the old home movies you may have in your closets, in your attics and some of the histories of these things, the timelines for them. And Tom, this segment, let's talk about the audio, because I know you still get a lot of audio coming in. In fact, I gave you a bunch of stuff recently myself to get digitized, old cassettes, but you talk about these wire recording that come in periodically. And having seen one, never even having owned one, I'm just amazed by them, because they're not flat. You would think, if anything had to record, you think of tape from a cassette or reel to reel and you think these flat parts of the tape have to go against the recording head or the playback head, but with the wire, it’s truly round, isn't it?

Tom: Oh, it absolutely is. Like at RootsTech last year when we made that recording right in the Extreme Genes booth, had some our friends in and having a good time on the wire recording with Alex, it is actually like you said, its round. So you kind of have to get out of your brain to use the videotape and audio tape that's flat, its recording head has to go flat across it. This thing has kind of these pulley type things. And the wire physically is going up and down, just like it’s on a shock absorber as it unwinds around the reel. It’s pretty much like you would imagine a fishing line being reeled. A fishing line around your water and then it goes back to your spinner, and then as you turn it, the water goes back and forth. This thing is the exact same concept. And so there's a device which you would call the recording or the playback head, but it’s not flat like a typical audio cassette would be. It reads it kind of like a vinyl record is. Like a vinyl record, if you watch the BIC rollers, they kind of go up and down, the needle's going up and down, so it’s not recording off something flat either. There's grooves that are actually cut into the record that are setup by how long the record's going to be by how far the grooves are apart. So you can make a record that's five minutes, you can make a record that's 30 minutes that's on the same size of a record by having different size grooves. And the wire's pretty much the same thing, it’s on the steel wire, which is basically 19 years after Edison first put some tin foil on the cylinder and recorded Mary Had A Little Lamb.

Fisher: Now, who invented this wire stuff?

Tom: This wire stuff was actually invented in 1898 by Valdemar Poulsen, and he called it the telegraph machine. And he recorded magnetically on steel wire. And so then it was shown at the big fares and it spread throughout the world. And that's where all this wire came from. And so many people had these wire recording and so many have been thrown out. People are finding them in grandpa's closet that we talked about at the top of this segment. So we have people that are listening to Extreme Genes across the country that are sending us this stuff. People that are at one of our local stores bring it in, and people are even finding old recording machine that are wire recording that they had no idea what this machine was. They'd bring it in or send up a photo of, and we go, "Oh, you have a wire recorder there." And it’s like Christmas all over.

Tom: Now you've been doing this transfer of audio and video forever, so let me ask you this, how far back is the earliest wire recording that you have ever digitized.

Tom: Okay, we believe the oldest one was from the early 1900s, because not being able to say what Teddy Roosevelt actually sounded like. We had somebody that brought some in that was listening to it, and they said that was Teddy Roosevelt, because somehow they knew what his voice sounded like. So we're assuming from that, if that was correct, we've had them from the early 1900s, because that's when he was president.

Fisher: That's insane. [Laughs] And they might have known by the way, not from the voice, but by the speech that he was giving, the content of the speech that would kind of reveal his identity. That is absolutely incredible stuff, Tom. Thanks so much. I mean, I think this is good, because a lot of people mistake these wire recordings for old fishing line, and they throw it out, and they're losing some incredible treasures. But, great stuff as always and we'll talk to you again next week.

Tom: My pleasure.

Fisher: That was amazing stuff! Thanks so much for joining us this week. It’s great to be back from RootsTech. So much material from the big conference still to come in the weeks ahead. Don't forget to sign up for our Weekly Genie Newsletter through ExtremeGenes.com or on our Facebook page. Talk to you next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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