Episode 90 - Descendants Can't Hide From Puzzilla! And DNA Triangulating Part 2

podcast episode Jun 08, 2015

Fisher opens the show talking about the huge response to last week's program about DNA triangulation used to assist listener Shelley Smith identify her birth father, after more traditional means, including DNA, helped her identify her birth mother.  Fisher provides an update on what has since happened to Shelley, who has contacted both a half-sister (from the birth mother's side) and a half-brother (from the birth father's side.)  Interestingly, another listener has come along to talk about using the same technique to identify ancestors born in the late 1700s.  Jeanne Nicholson talks about her experience later in the show.  In Family Histoire News, Flooding in Oklahoma has reveal the body of a 40-year-old man.  Fisher will tell you what makes him so unusual.  Fisher then reveals that yet another British monarch may be hidden beneath yet another parking lot!  Who is it, and what is the likelihood we'll have another Richard III on our hands? Fisher will tell you about it.

Bill Harten, creator of Puzzilla then joins Fisher.  Puzzilla is a remarkable free tool that can help you identify descendants of your ancestors.  It's almost like flying over a forest to see where all the campgrounds are!  Where and how can you use this amazing tool?  Find out in Segment Two.
Jeanne Nicholson of Tennessee is new to Extreme Genes, and checks in to talk about how she used DNA triangulation to identify the parents of an ancestor that she has been searching for for years.  Yes, triangulation isn't just for tying in to the living!
Then Tom Perry, the Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com, answers a listener question about why her videos and pictures are suddenly coming out "blue!" 
That's all this week on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show!

Transcript of Episode 90

Host: Scott Fisher

Segment 1 Episode 90

Fisher: Greetings Genies across America, and welcome to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. Wow! What a response to last week’s show. And my visit with Shelley Smith, if you didn’t catch it, I was able to assist Shelley in identifying both of her now deceased birth parents. And the birth father was found through DNA testing using a technique called “Triangulation.” Now not everyone who researches their history will ever have the need or the opportunity to use triangulation. I’ve never tried it prior to this case. And certainly not all of us have birth families to identify and locate, but you need to know that as mentioned last week.

DNA Triangulation can also be used to identify ancestors for many generations back. Well, this week I’ll visit with a listener who has searched to extend one of her lines for many years, but through DNA and triangulation she’s been able to identify with reasonable certainty, the parents of an ancestor born at the beginning of the 19th century.  As we’ve often mentioned, DNA is a great tool, but even better when used with other sources. Such was the case with Shelley’s birth parents search and such is the case with the story you will hear later on in the show.  I’m appreciative to Tennessee’s genie Nicolson for agreeing to come on and share her story. And before we leave this topic for the moment, I need to mention two things, first, people are always asking about the experiences of others locating their birth families. As you know, not all experiences are positive. But I’m happy to report that Shelley Smith had a wonderful first meeting with her half brother through her birth father last week.

He had lost his two older siblings in the past decade and was thrilled to learn he has another sister. They’re looking forward to learning a lot more about each other in the coming weeks and months. She’s also had some very warm email exchanges with her half sister from her mother’s side and is learning a lot about her birth mother. They expect to meet some time later this month. And while there’s been some shock and surprise within the birth parents families, they have been nothing but kind and welcoming to Shelley as she seeks to learn more about these important people she’s wondered about her entire life. She took the chance and in her case at least, it’s been a delightful experience. The second thing is, if you’re having trouble buttoning down whether someone is a half sibling or first cousin or half uncle etc. through a DNA test, I will have some information on how you can get more specific with your DNA results in the next few weeks so get ready.

All right, I’m also excited to have on the show today the man behind a terrific tool called “Puzzilla” as described by her friends at FamilySearch.org. Puzzilla allows you to get an aerial view of hundreds of descendents of your ancestors. It uses all kinds of symbols to display patterns of incomplete research. Tracking down descendents is obviously hugely important if you’re assembling a one name family history or just want to locate distant cousins who might have information on your common ancestors, say from a bible or family records, or who might even have rare photographs. Coming forward to move back, is a technique I’ve used many times with great success over the years. I just wish I had had Puzzilla to help me out back when I needed it most. We’ll chat with Bill Harten about his creation, coming up in about six minutes.

And Tom Perry our Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com will be here to answer a listener question ‘Why your photos and videos are suddenly blue?’ What’s going on there? And how can it be fixed? Can this happen to you? Tom will explain it all later in the show. It is time once again for your family Histoire news from the pages of ExtremeGenes.com. Well, there’s been a lot of heavy rain resulting in a lot of flooding in South Western Oklahoma. And as a result of that, human remains believed to be about a thousand years old have been discovered located in Eastern Comanche County. Authorities brought the remains to the University of Oklahoma where archaeologists determine the body was likely that of a man about forty years of age, who is almost certainly an American Indian. A local tribe that wishes not to be identified took possession of the remains and buried them at an undisclosed site. You know, it’s entirely possible that like the famous iceman discovered some years ago, that the man they buried is a direct ancestor to many of the natives who have long called that part of Oklahoma, home.

You know it wasn’t that long ago that King Richard the third was finally laid to rest and presumably for the last time after being found under a British parking lot. And as we say in the business, this story had legs. I mean it went on and on. From identification to analysis of what he ate to how he died, the legal battles for where he would be buried again, you know, for the sake of tourism, but it all ended just a few short months ago. But then comes this, another British king may also be resting under a parking lot in England! Yes, Henry the first, the youngest son of William the Conqueror. Experts are now trying to determine if he might be under a parking lot in Reading England. Henry the first was king from 1100 to 1135 and has been called energetic, decisive and an occasionally cruel ruler.

The story goes that he died at age thirty five from downing too many lampreys, which is a type of jawless fish. He was laid to rest in Reading Abbey which was mostly destroyed in the 16th century. Well the person who led the research for Richard the third’s body, Philip Delangly, is getting a team in place to use radar to mark exactly where the full Abbey once stood and hopefully locate the remains of King Henry the first. It’s thought that he might be found beneath the school, a playground or yes, another parking lot. Nonetheless, experts say the odds of finding and then identifying Henry the first are very long. They note that he lived a full 350 years before Richard the third making genealogical evidence less reliable and from a selfish viewpoint I wish them all the luck in the world because stories about royals under parking lots are the tales that keep on giving.

And that’s your family histoire news for this week. Check out these and other stories at ExtremeGenes.com. And coming up next, it’s the Godzilla of all descendent trackers and it’s called “Puzzilla.” We’ll talk to the man who created it and we’ll talk about what it can do for you and why it’s important. Bill Harten, Puzzilla CEO is up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com.     

Segment 2 Episode 90

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Bill Harten

Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher your Radio Roots Sleuth. Excited to have on the line with me today, the creator, the CEO, the Grand Imperial Poobah of Puzzilla, its Bill Harten! Bill, welcome to the show, nice to have you on.

Bill Harten: Happy to be here, Scott.

Fisher: Boy, you have created something that I just think is a most useful tool. How long has it been around now? And how did you come up with this?

Bill Harten: Well, we take the story back to when I was a kid. My mom trying to do family history related work, found that her aunts and grandparents, etc. themselves had done a lot of family history work, and the pedigree research had been done back to the point where records were very difficult. She was a beginner, didn’t have the skills to improve on what they had done where the records were more difficult. So she started doing descendants, researched. She would take out a long sheet of butcher paper, 12 feet or so, yardstick and a ruler, and sharp pencil, and do a descendants chart. She’d pick out an ad in a paper back in New York and Pennsylvania, small towns where our research originates and said in that paper, “Anybody with this last name, contact me.” No other explanation. I suppose they thought they were going to get some money, but people contacted her. She would travel then back and meet with these people for about a month each year, take the descendants chart, share what she knew about cousins with them and ask them to do the same. And she’d come back with new information to update her chart. She did this for all the years of her life.

Fisher: Wow!

Bill Harten: And amassed thousands and thousands of cousins. Fast forward to 2013, in my local church group we had the same problem the pedigree work was done, and I was in my church responsibilities, responsible for encouraging people to do something, and they couldn’t. So, I knew there was work to be found along cousins’ descendant lines, and I knew how to write the code and interface with the family tree database, so Puzzilla was born, and this was about August or so of 2013 that we first turned it on as an experiment and it exploded from there.

Fisher: Wow! And where did you come up with the name Puzzilla, by the way?

Bill Harten: Well, you always look for a catchy name, and it’s hard to find a word that isn’t taken.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Bill Harten: So it’s a contraction of “puzzle” and “gorilla.”

Fisher: Ah.

Bill Harten: So, some people think it’s pronounced “Poozilla” like “Poodle” but no, it’s “puzzle.” And the puzzle idea is really at the heart of it: we consider the growing tree to be like a jigsaw puzzle.

Fisher: Absolutely.

Bill Harten: The parts that you put together and new evidence records are the puzzle pieces and the task is to find where they fit, plug them in, grow the puzzle, hence, Puzzilla.

Fisher: Oh, I like it. I like the idea of “puzzle” plus “Godzilla” because it’s just the monster of all descendant technology. It’s fantastic!

Bill Harten: So that’s where the name came from, “Puzzilla.”

Fisher: [Laughs]

Bill Harten: And we couldn’t get dot com. it was taken. So the domain name is Puzzilla.org

Fisher: So, you know, I used to do exactly what your mother did, but not as early I’m sure. Because I had the same situation, I’d pushed my chart all the way back, I’d reached the end, and for almost a decade on my main line I had the same problem, and my feeling was the same: “What happened to all the descendants of these people?” And so I started to track them down. And you’d go through the wills, and then you would try to look through the census records, and then whose kids had what, and then go to the White Pages or you’d call 411 and see who was listed in the phone book at the time. And what I didn’t expect to come from it, Bill, was that there were people out there that had a lot of information that wasn’t available in books or in public records. They had family bibles, they had old photographs. I found a man in Minnesota that had a portrait in pastel of my second great grandfather done in 1875, and he said, “This is your name line. You have to have it.” And I said, “You’re absolutely right!” And so, finding descendants is a huge tool also in pushing lines back, in my opinion.

Bill Harten: It is. You get more information this way, and a lot of people discovered that descendants’ research is easier, because as you move forward in time, the records only get better. Also, the multiplication factor is on average six children per family, so you’d find six children together as opposed to finding two parents. So you’d get more people to add to your tree, moving forward.

Fisher: Tell me some of the stories that you’ve heard as a result of your software that you’ve created.

Bill Harten: Well, we have a large number of people. The classic story, for x number of people who have tried for years and years and years working on a pedigree line, and then, unsuccessful, trying to extend that. Quite often they’ll get stuck on one particular person, and spend an inordinate amount of time researching that person without realising maybe they ought to turn their time to something more productive. So when they see Puzzilla and realise there’s all these cousins waiting to have their children found, they get real excited. One of my neighbours had tried even using Puzzilla, he had tried going back six generations, and then coming forward he found a lot of that was done, and he was frustrated and he spent three or four days trying that approach. I had the idea this was back before we had the ability to adjust the number of generations. I suggested we try going back seven generations. I created a way to do that in Puzzilla. And, when he went back seven generations, he came forward, and he found all kinds of new areas for new research. And this is a very proud, brave man, but he had tears in his eyes because he’d tried so long to find a place to make the contribution. So that’s the very typical story.

Fisher: Yes, I would imagine.

Bill Harten: Puzzilla has the ability to show duplicates. It can show records with no sources or that has sources, can show where possible record hints are using the family tree hints capabilities. And so when you bring a tree up in Puzzilla, you can look at these aspects across hundreds of records, four, maybe eight hundred records at a time, and see where quality may be strong, and other places where quality may be weak, yet there are no sources. For example, you can look at the hints and go in and quickly attach sources and just discover problem areas.

Fisher: All right. Now, I know there are people chopping at the bit, wondering about where they can take advantage of Puzzilla, and I think I failed to mention right from the start that you guys have a great partnership with FamilySearch.org, as do we, and this is a great place because it’s one tree, and everybody contributes to this one tree. So Puzzilla is perfectly positioned for FamilySearch.org, to find all these descendants. Now, what else can Puzzilla be used with?

Bill Harten: Right now, Puzzilla is only attached to the Family Tree database. We have plans, going forward to attach the other major databases, but those have not been implemented yet.

Fisher: Do you see a day where perhaps you could use it with some kind of personal database, such as with Roots Magic or Ancestral Quest?

Bill Harten: Yes I do. Our first foray in that direction will be with GEDCOM files. So, Puzzilla will be able to take a GEDCOM file from any of these programs and upload it, in essence, to Puzzilla, and then view it that way. So, any GEDCOM compatible software will be able to be viewed through Puzzilla, both pedigree and descendants.

Fisher: Wow, that’s exciting. When will that be coming out, do you think?

Bill Harten: Well, I would anticipate it towards the third or fourth quarter of this year.

Fisher: Okay. So, somebody goes on Family Search right now, FamilySearch.org, and they want to use Puzzilla. What’s the best way to go about that?

Bill Harten: They need to go into their browser, the URL address bar, and type “Puzzilla.org” two zees, I-L-L-A dot org and hit the sign in button. They will sign in using their Family Search user ID and password. But that will then position them in their tree in Puzzilla. So you’re looking at the family tree database, but through the lens or the microscope, or telescope of Puzzilla. A lot of people think that Puzzilla has an aerial view, if you were...

Fisher: Yes.

Bill Harten: If you were lost in a forest, wouldn’t it be great to be able to get up above, and look down and see where the camp ground is, where the cliff is, where the road is? Puzzilla gives you that kind of an aerial view, so you can survey a large number of descendants. And it puts on markers to indicate various properties, like sources attached, or hints, or lack of sources, things like that.

Fisher: So Bill, other than simply identifying the descendants, how else do we use the Puzzilla tree?

Bill Harten: Well, the most important use people find is, as you look at the descendants view, you will see children of a person who themselves have no children. Now, this is very unusual, most people did have children. It’s not that they were without children it’s mostly because the research by someone else had found them, stopped at that point. What that means is it’s a starting point where you can pick up where they left off and discover their children who are missing from the tree. The trick is to see what’s not there. You need to see and understand with your imagination that there are children of these people who appear to be childless in the chart. It’s simply because that’s where the blacktop ends as far as third research, and where you can start laying down new blacktop.

Fisher: Well that’s powerful stuff. Well, Bill, you’re a genius! And on behalf of everybody out there searching for their ancestors and their ancestors’ descendants, we thank you for what you’ve done and look forward to the next step for Puzzilla.

Bill Harten: Well, we all do. It’s been quite a ride, quite an amazing response. All the response that we’ve gotten has happened by word of mouth, and we really appreciate people talking about it. That helps us a lot.

Fisher: Well, thanks for coming on the show. And coming up next, remember how last week we talked about triangulation with DNA test to identify a birth mother and a birth father? Well, our next guest is going to tell you about how she used the same strategy of triangulation to identify an ancestor dating back to the 18th century. It’s all coming up next on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show, and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 3 Episode 90

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Jeanne Nicholson

Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And I am very excited today to be talking to Jeanne Nicholson, she's in Tennessee. Hi, Jeanne, welcome to the show.

Jeanne: Hello.

Fisher: And you know, you have gone through all the things that so many of us have done in our research. Search for decades on end sometimes, to find a connection to the ancestor you're looking for. You finally had your breakthrough and that's what we like to hear about on the show is how people did that. We can kind of share your glory and also learn a little bit from what you've done. So, Jeanne, tell us a little about your ancestor, where they were from and the whole back story of this thing.

Jeanne: Well sure. It was funny because originally I was raised being told that we were related to Joseph Greer the hero of King’s Mountain in the Revolutionary War.

Fisher: Ah!

Jeanne: And when I got serious about my family history, I realized I couldn't find anything that said that was the least bit true. So I was able to easily walk the family history back to the early 1800s, and there I met Otey Prosser Greer who apparently was just hatched in the middle of Tennessee in 1801 and no one knew who his parents were.

Fisher: [Laughs] Isn't that? You know, you just nailed it! That's how it feels sometimes. Somebody has just hatched, they don't come from anybody and you can never connect them. Well said!

Jeanne: [Laughs] So I spent years off and on plowing through census records page by page. I read through all of the available newspaper records, trying to find anything I could. Never found anything. No death notices, no marriages, nothing.

Fisher: Wow!

Jeanne: I was able to find his marriage license, so I knew he got married, I knew who his children were. Everything was clear from him down, but there was no idea whatsoever who his family was or where they came from. And nobody, I've run into numerous other people from other branches from his other children, and they didn't know anything either.

Fisher: Hmm, so there's no family bible anywhere? No family law that might tie him back?

Jeanne: Nothing at all. He was a complete mystery.

Fisher: And so how many years have you been looking for him? What's his name? Osey?

Jeanne: Otey.

Fisher: Otey.

Jeanne: Yeah. He was named after a Revolutionary War soldier named Otey Prosser.

Fisher: Okay.

Jeanne: And that's all anybody could figure out, because it's such an unusual name, so that had to be true.

Fisher: Right. Sure, of course.

Jeanne: So I spent easily ten years off and on. I'd get kind of tired and I'd put it down for a little while. And I thought, "There's just got to be something!" And I would go back and start all over again. But I never found anything in the records that would tell me anything. I found his marriage bond and I saw who it was signed by. It was signed by a man named Moses Greer. But without any context, I had no idea who that was really.

Fisher: Right. But it's somebody to research.

Jeanne: It was somebody to research. I finally determined that Moses Greer was born in Virginia and had moved to Tennessee. So I said, “Well, maybe he's got some connection to the Virginia Greers.” But there are a lot of them.

Fisher: Sure. And you know, the nice thing is, in this age we live in now, so many new things are becoming available all the time. We're getting more and more breakthroughs on problems like this. And so, you went ahead with some of that new technology, DNA.

Jeanne: I did, yes. I hated to do it. In a way, it seemed in some ways kind of selfish to spend the money on it. And then my daughter said that she was interested in it. So I gave her a test for her birthday. My husband said, "Just go ahead and test yours. You want to know." So I tested mine.

Fisher: [Laughs] What a good man! So you wound up doing double the DNA test.

Jeanne: That's right.

Fisher: Hey, but you saved on a birthday gift, right?

Jeanne: There you go. [Laughs]

Fisher: Okay. Yes.

Jeanne: So the results came back and I started looking through the matches and everything. I was trying not to be too excited or too hopeful. And I ran across this match to a married couple, John and Sarah Greer.

Fisher: Okay.

Jeanne: And they were in Virginia. And I said, "Okay, that's unusual that I would be matched to both of them if there wasn't a family match there."

Fisher: Right. And there were more than one match that came down from this couple?

Jeanne: Yes. My daughter's DNA test which I did through Family Tree DNA, and I did mine through Ancestry. Hers came through with a match to that same couple, but from a different person who had run the DNA test.

Fisher: Right.

Jeanne: So I had two different matches that put us through to the same couple.

Fisher: Well that's a nice hint right there. And that's really how DNA is best used is when you start to triangulate like you did. Two different places, two different people, two different matches or more. I've had as many as five come down from a couple in the 1700s. That really gave me the idea that, okay, I'm good with the line that I thought I had.

Jeanne: Exactly! So I started researching his family and realized that one of his great grandsons moved from Maryland to Tennessee, and all of his children were born here. And my relative's birth here fit right at the end of the line with his known children.

Fisher: Oh wow!

Jeanne: So I thought, "Well, that's interesting." And then I realized that I also had a DNA match from a man that when I first heard of his name, it was Conrad Harkrider and I didn't know who that was.

Fisher: Right. Good German line.

Jeanne: Yes. And then I was looking at my family tree and I realized that she married John Greer's great grandson.

Fisher: Oh! Okay.

Jeanne: And so I said, "Well, there's got to be a relation, otherwise there's no way for me to be related to her.

Fisher: Sure, of course.

Jeanne: So I started researching even more and found out that this Otey Prosser that my Otey was named after served with Otey’s grandfather in the Virginia militia during the Revolutionary War.

Fisher: Perfect! All the puzzle pieces coming together now.

Jeanne: Yes, exactly. And then I even found that Otey Prosser even toured the estate when another member of the family died. So it became pretty clear that he was a family friend as well as a comrade in arms.

Fisher: Right.

Jeanne: And there's a long history in this family of naming people after other people.

Fisher: Right. Yes, especially in that era.

Jeanne: Yes. And they were just fond enough of him to name their son after him.

Fisher: Right.

Jeanne: So finally, after over ten years, I have figured out who Otey’s parents are. [Laughs]

Fisher: Right. And you know, this is the thing a lot of people who are just getting started in genealogy would question. Its like, "You mean you don't have a record that shows specifically that he was the son?" No, sometimes you actually have to put together, you know, it’s almost like a legal case, isn't it?

Jeanne: Yes, exactly.

Fisher: It’s all the evidence that comes together to point to a certain picture from which there can really be no other conclusion.

Jeanne: Exactly! And what really I thought was kind of funny, I was looking last night at some old documents that I had pulled together, and I remembered that a man named Moses Greer signed the marriage bond for Otey and his wife Martha.

Fisher: Right.

Jeanne: And that must have been actually Otey’s brother.

Fisher: Yeah, that sounds like it makes sense, doesn't it?

Jeanne: Yeah. And so when I was looking, I found an old document that I had written up where I was looking at clues to who Otey Greer's identity might have been. And I had started chasing down all the Greers in Tennessee. And one of the things that I had noted down was that the same Moses Greer had signed other Greer men's marriage bonds. And now that I've put all the other pieces together, I've realized he signed the marriage bond for all his brothers.

Fisher: Perfect! That's just another big clue right there.

Jeanne: Yes, so I'm very excited. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah, I think so. How's your daughter feel about this?

Jeanne: Well she's very excited too. You know, she used to kind of tolerate me when I would be all excited when I found out something new, but she's very excited about all of this and all the pieces that it took to put it together. She's realized the amount of work that goes into it now.

Fisher: Yeah, but it fun. And at the end of the day, did you find out if your family was tied to the hero of King's Mountain?

Jeanne: No relation whatsoever.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Jeanne: [Laughs]

Fisher: How much further back do you go now? Do you have it back into Virginia quite a ways?

Jeanne: I'm able to take it all the way back to 1688.

Fisher: Very nice!

Jeanne: This is when the first Greer came over from Scotland.

Fisher: Well, that's awesome, Jeanne! Congratulations on your success! Thanks for sharing with us and we share your joy and excitement. Thanks for joining us.

Jeanne: Well thank you very much for asking.

Fisher: All right. And coming up next, Tom Perry our Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com answers another listener question, this time about strange colors coming up in your video and your photos. What's going on there? Tom will tell you next on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 90

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: Hey, back at you. It’s Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth with my friend Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, he is the Preservation Authority. Good to see you again, Tom.

Tom: Good to be here.

Fisher: And of course you can always [email protected], that's his email address, and we did get a question from Linda Satwyler in Wisconsin and she's asking about Blue. He says: "I watch TV or I take photographs and they're not old but they come back blue. What does this mean?"

Tom: That means your color balance is off.

Fisher: That's it?

Tom: Yes.

Fisher: It's as simple as that? So for television or for photographs?

Tom: Your color balance is off.

Fisher: Okay. And how does she fix this?

Tom: Okay. It's actually pretty simple. Like when we're shooting, like, for instance a music video or any kind of thing like that, what you do is if you light stuff by tungsten light which is what the sun is, okay the sun actually has a blue hue to it, it actually changes color during the day, in the morning it's kind of more yellow, in the evening it goes into red.

Fisher: That's right.

Tom: So at noon when it's at its brightest it kind of has a blue hue. So if you're shooting something indoors and your incandescent lights, they give off a total different color. So, almost all cameras have a color balance. Nowadays people ignore it because the automatic color balance is really, really good.

Fisher: Right. And we wouldn't know what we're doing any way with that.

Tom: Exactly. If you really want to get really true colors, what you want to do is you want to get a white piece of paper, a white card, just make sure it's pure white, doesn't... You know, matter, even if it's got a few lines on it, that's fine.


Fisher: Sure.

Tom: But something white. Aim your camera at it and put your white balance on manual instead of automatic.

Fisher: Now is that a button?

Tom: Yeah.

Fisher: Okay.

Tom: Yeah. There's usually a little menu. On the new cameras they have the LCD back... Should scroll through their menu, and there'd be white balance. And 99.9 of the people just leave it on automatic, they have no idea what it means, nobody reads the manuals, but it can help you a lot in getting your colors. Even if things aren't blue, things just aren't as crisp and bright and you're thinking: "Why aren't these as good as I want them to be? Is there something wrong with my camera?" Well, it's because everything's on automatic nowadays.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: So put your camera on manual on your white balance, aim your camera so it fills up the entire frame, just a white card, it be a white sheet of paper, anything that's just, you know, pure white, and then push the button. So what's this doing, this is telling your camera or your camcorder this is what white really looks like.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: So now that the camera knows what white is, when you're shooting it knows, "okay, this is red, this is blue, this is green, this is whatever, because I know what white is."

Fisher: So white is the base color.

Tom: Exactly. Because as we've talked about before, white is like in this kind of world, white is an additive colors, all colors together equal white, okay?

Fisher: Really?

Tom: Yeah. All the colors, if you mix all the colors together they'll equal white. Like if you have a television, one of the older televisions has little dots, in fact, some of the new hi-def ones you can even see it, if you look really, really close to your screen, just get right up there and there's something white on the screen, you'll see the red, the green and the blue.

Fisher: Yes. You're right.

Tom: All on the same time. So the red, the green and the blue all added together create white. So that's why it's called Additive Colors. Where is if you look at a magazine it's just the opposite. They start off with a white piece of paper and then they add cyan, magenta, yellow and black to make all the different colors.

Fisher: Ha!

Tom: So that's how an additive color works. So white is everything. So if you have your white right, everything else will be perfect. So now that you've set up your camera for incandescent lighting, which is what most people have in their home, then you take it outside and start shooting, everything's going to look blue, because all the blue from the sun and stuff is going to tell your camera, "Hey, this is what you told me white is, so this is what white is now outside." Where white outside now is really blue.

Fisher: So you have to do your white page outside, basically?

Tom: Right. Anything you change lighting. If you go from florescent, incandescent, LED, different shades of LED outside, you need to do that with everything. So when you go outside you'll need to re-white balance. That's why a lot of times when you're watching a news program like 60 minutes or 20/20, you can see things like this. And after the break I'll go in and tell you some different things to kind of watch for to help make sure you get those true colors you need.

Fisher: Exactly. All right, good stuff. We'll be back in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 90

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And we are back, final segment. Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, he is our Preservation Authority. We've been talking about one of our listeners sending us an email saying, "Hey, my video, my pictures, everything's looking blue, what causes that?" And we were just talking about it's a problem with your white balance, and Tom has explained it exactly how that is done. Now you mentioned, Tom, that if you watched a show like 60 minutes or 20/20, if you saw, say, a window behind it, it might appear blue, why would that be?

Tom: Okay, because what they do in the studio, they usually light a studio to what they call 5600K, which is a Kelvin number which really doesn't mean a whole lot, it's just telling the cameras, "Hey, this is optimal lighting." They don't have bad shadows, the talent's going to look the best they can, and then they tell the camera this is what white is. So then when they pan to a window or there's a window over an interview, it's going to look blue because the light coming in through the window is a different color than what the tungsten that they just set it to.

Fisher: Oh. Because you mentioned that you can set the white inside and it's different from outside. But if you're looking at outside light coming inside, you got a problem.

Tom: Exactly. So then the windows look blue. And people see this all the time, even sometimes some live news shows they can kind of see the window outside. But then if you look at a real good produced program that has a lot of windows behind it, like Good Morning America or something like that, what they do is they put a red gel over all the windows, and so now the light coming through this blue hits the red and turns white, so to speak.

Fisher: Really?

Tom: So then it looks perfectly fine.

Fisher: It would look different in the studio, you're saying, if you were part of an audience.

Tom: Oh, right, right. If you're sitting there you're going to see that, you know, there's red gels over the window. And the same thing is in the old days when they had the CRT televisions, the big tubes in them, if you were watching in the old days a news program and they had a television there that you could see, they would have a red gel over that too to bring out the true colors because they had white balance to what the colors in studio were. So even the television itself would look kind of funky, so they'd put a red gel over it.

Fisher: Isn't that interesting? We can't see these colors in our day to day lives, but boy, it sure shows up in our cameras and those things we're trying to preserve of our kids and our grandkids.

Tom: Oh, absolutely, because lighting is so important. I think, second after audios that is one of the things that’s messed up the most. S, I’m assuming our listener, what she had done is accidently turned her camera on manual and didn’t realize it. And so wherever it was white balanced last, it always thinks what is. Which could have been a florescent light which is green, it could have been a halogen light which is usually kinda white to yellow, or it could have been daylight which is usually blue. And so, however that was set, it’s always like that now. So, what she can do is use that to her advantage and white balance every time she change her settings, or just say, “I don’t want to deal with it.” Put it back to automatic, which is generally pretty good.

Now, on the other hand if we were shooting a music video or we wanted to have something look like it was shot at night yet we actually shot the band during the day, we would do just the opposite. We would color balance to white what it’s supposed to be. But then, after we had white balanced we would put blue gels over the windows and put blue gels over the lights, and put blue gels over everything. So now, the camera things blue is white.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: So everything has this blue look to it, would light it just the right way. And you would swear that it was a night time shot, and it was shot you know, at noon.

Fisher: Is that how a lot of movies are done?

Tom: Exactly! That’s how they are. In fact, that’s one thing, kinda off track that really drives me crazy, is I see these outside scenes where the light is just beautiful, there’s no shadows or anything. You can see for miles the light is just exactly normal. But they want that, what they do is they send up these blimps so to speak that have giant lights in them, so they just cast this whole field with this beautiful light. And anybody that’s been out even on a full moon night knows it’s not going to cover everything like that. It drives me nuts, but it makes the movie look good.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: But that’s important, work on your audio and work on your lighting and that will help you a lot.

Fisher: All right. Great advice, as always! Good to have you on, Tom.

Tom: Good to be here again.

Fisher: Hey, that wraps up the show for this week. Thanks once again to Bill Harten from Puzzilla, for telling us about his incredible software for tracking down your ancestors descendents. And to Jeanne Nicholson from Tennessee who found her ancestors from way back using triangulation and DNA. If you didn’t catch it, you’ll want to hear the podcast. Talk to you again next week, and remember as far as everyone knows, we’re a nice, normal family!

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