VIRTUAL REALITY- A NEW FRONTIER FOR LEGACY PRESERVATION

Have you ever looked through old photos of loved-ones who are deceased and wondered where the pictures were taken or which family members were in it? As a friend recently discovered after her grandmother passed away, this predicament left her frustrated and saddened. There was no one left who had the knowledge about these family archives.

VR to the rescue

Imagine sitting around the Thanksgiving table and reminiscing about Grandpa’s old war stories  when you realize no one remembers where he was stationed during the war. Now imagine being able to ask Grandpa and get the answer directly from his likeness. Not long ago we would have thought this only possible in the realm of science fiction, but with the development of Virtual Reality (VR) technologies it is now closer to being attained than ever before.

Photo via TED, Duncan Cheng.

Photo via TED, Duncan Cheng.

Coming soon

Performance artist Gabriel Barcia-Colombo, creator of The Hereafter Institute, offers virtual reality reconstructions to deceased loved-ones.This experience allows living family members to step into a reconstructed scene with their deceased loved-ones and listen to the retelling of  memories pertaining to the dearly-departed. It leaves users with the feeling of being with their loved-one, connecting to the sights, sounds and stories that are cherished.

When asked if his art could become a viable company, Barcia-Colombo concedes it does serve a useful purpose. “I am hoping the Hereafter Institute (will) make us think about the ever present role of technology in planning future memorials and rituals – how we want to be remembered.”

VR and legacy preservation

At Memoirs Productions, we use today’s cutting-edge technology– drone shooting and 4K High Definition video– to record and preserve our productions on archival DVDs. This enables future generations to see and hear the stories told by their loved-ones. Add the gestures and unique body language that VR allows one to see, hear, and feel and soon we will be able to offer an immersive legacy experience beyond anything thought possible only a few years ago.

VR technology is advancing to the point where we will record stories and personal responses to specific questions so that future generations will be able to interact with their ancestors. We can imagine sitting beside Grandpa and have him directly answer the question about where he was stationed during the war.

What better way could there be to learn from those who are dearly departed than to hear their stories while we are “sitting in the same room”? We are looking forward to working in Virtual Reality technology with families that are passionate about legacy preservation. We’ll keep you posted…

Bird’s-Eye View

If you haven’t already seen the spectacular footage shot by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or  drone cameras you are in for a real treat! With their superior stability and breathtaking vantage points, there is no doubt the footage they capture is a cutting edge look at the future of film making.

A new offering in Memoirs’ documentary video productions is that we are recording private client’s homes and investment properties often with breathtaking surroundings from the air. This footage allows us to capture a unique bird’s-eye perspective of these properties to have as an archive for future generations.

Over a decade ago, an ultra-high net worth real estate developer client commented that his beloved, private-island log-cabin refuge, built with his own hands back in the 1960’s, had been lovingly captured using commissioned paintings and photographs. They covered the land and water perspectives, but now drone technology would surely have been a welcomed video archive addition to his collection!

We invite you to view our exclusive drone footage compilation (below). Running at 1 minute 30 seconds, it offers a peek at the truly amazing imagery Memoirs Productions is currently capturing with drones.

Enjoy!

 

 

PS: Our use of drones is highlighted in the June 13, 2016 Wall Street Journal article Financial Firms Offer a New Service to Wealthy Clients: Family History. Kindly click to read.

Your Digital Legacy – Think Before You Post!

The desire to be remembered is both elemental and universal. Since time immemorial oral histories, diaries, memoirs and more recently, photographs and video have been used to preserve the memories of their authors. Today, we collect and curate our memorabilia more extensively than ever before. By doing this we not only preserve our memories, but in addition our online activity is actually recording present-day living.

Andy Warhol was once noted for saying “In the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.” In his 2013 TED Talk Your Online Life, Permanent as a Tattoo, Futurist Juan Enriquez posits, what if Warhol had that backwards? What if, due to our online activity, all we get is 15 minutes of anonymity? It’s an interesting premise and one well worth examining.

Enriquez calls our digital footprint ‘electronic tattoos’. Like permanent designs on our skin, our online activity tells a very detailed and intimate story of our lives. The main difference, however, is that electronic tattoos will outlive our physical bodies.

Traditional preservation methods have allowed the storyteller to tell his story in his own time and his own way. Now big data collected from our tens of thousands of online interactions permits those who have access to them to make decisions about us in real time. This has never happened at any other time in history. Our digital footprint is constantly being analysed and the data used to provide information about us for job and college applications, dating prospects, even shopping experiences, amongst a plethora of other purposes.

bionic woman

And no matter our caution, facial recognition software like Face.com purchased by Facebook in 2012, have databases with over 18 billion faces and allows our identification through photos potentially captured by third parties in public spaces. All this is recorded and potentially accessible forever.

With this in mind, Enriquez encourages us to follow these timeless lessons:

  1. Take care in what you post
  2. Don’t go looking too far into the past of those you love
  3. Remember the purpose of your posts
  4. Don’t “fall in love with your own reflection”

At the intersection of the need for privacy and the desire to be remembered lies the wisdom of knowing what we want to be remembered for and the discipline of leaving only that as our digital tattoo. With technology now active in people’s’ lives from birth, today’s challenge is to use this wisdom for ourselves. We need to teach the value of discretion and privacy as foresight to our families and to those who are unwise in this regard.

Remember- think before you post! Be wary of the digital legacy you leave…

Happy Holidays and Peace to all,

Iris and her team at Memoirs Productions

Up Close and Personal with Andre Agassi

Andre-AgassiWorld renowned professional tennis player Andre Agassi was simply charming when he spoke at C2MTL, an international business conference held in Montreal I attended earlier this summer highlighting commerce and creativity. Agassi’s talking points varied from his childhood and tennis career, covered in his 2010 bestselling book Open: An Autobiography, to his more recent philanthropic adventures in creating a charter school business model for disadvantaged students in his home town of Las Vegas.

The story of a remarkable life, Open is much more than a memoir of a tennis superstar. It explores how Agassi was often unhappy and unfulfilled despite his great on-court successes, and how he resented the sport that gave him fame and fortune. It clarifies that from birth to age 27, his life was entirely controlled by his moody and demanding father who instilled a relentless work ethic.

 

On Parenting

The interview at C2 took on the subject of his own parenting style. Father of two with wife Steffi Graf, Agassi explained he had made a conscious decision to parent his children differently from his own upbringing. He spoke passionately about how defining success is the first and most important decision you make as a parent.

Agassi defines his own vision of parental success as holding his kids accountable that “their days reflect the values and the things that they claim to love and want… that all their behaviors reflect what they claim. Don’t tell me something’s important to you – show me what’s important to you…I’m interested in how they live and engage with their life” he says.

“I’ll tell you when I stopped regretting anything as it links to my childhood,” Agassi said. “It’s when I get a chance to realize that I get to live and breathe my children’s childhood…I get the luxury of teaching my kids the things I have learned to be from my father and teaching my kids the things I learned that I didn’t want to be from my father.” Now that’s a true reflection on parenthood.

 

On Legacy

In 1994 Agassi founded the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation which opened the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in 2001 in Las Vegas and has an impressive 100% graduation rate. He has since taken the business model of the public charter school for at-risk children and created 65 more across the United States. He also has invested with entrepreneurial partners and is a board member of various businesses.

Although he retired from tennis in 2006, parenting, being an entrepreneur and devoting time to his foundation keep him more focused than ever. “What do I do in the morning? I get up and work.”

Some things never change.

Robert DeNiro Jr and Sr - Remembering the Artist

Robert De Niro: Preserving His Father’s Legacy

The Metropolitan Museum in New York City indexes four entries under the name Robert De Niro. The information recorded is not about the Oscar-winning actor and director, but rather about his father, the artist. Thanks to a recently released HBO documentary  “Remembering the Artist, Robert De Niro Sr.” we now know a lot more about his fascinating life.

Robert (Jr.) had a desire to preserve and rectify the truth about his father’s legacy as an artist, as well as his struggles as a gay man, and as such, produced this highly evocative documentary film. I believe we are privileged as a public viewing audience to see such a personal tribute.

De Niro had a complex relationship with his father. After his parents separated when he was two and finally divorced when he was nine or ten, he rarely saw him. “I was not aware, much, of it [his father being gay]. I wish we had spoken about it much more. My mother didn’t want to talk about things in general, and you’re not interested when you’re a certain age,” De Niro said during an interview in Out Magazine[1].

During his teens he would listen to his father rant about the injustices of the art world and the difficulty artists had in selling their work. “Artists are always recognized after they’re long gone,” says De Niro in the film’s trailer.

However brief his fame as an artist in the 1940’s and 50’s might have been, De Niro, Sr. was exhibited alongside Jackson Pollock by Peggy Guggenheim, and as a result, the impact his life and his artwork left on his son was powerful. Consequently, De Niro Jr. preserved his father’s SoHo studio much as it was, with paintings on the wall, books, and exhibition posters, as a personal tribute to his descendants.

Preserving his father’s legacy

“When he passed away I thought, well, I should keep it,” De Niro says in an interview with FT.com “because it’s a very special place, and also for my grandchildren and for my young kids, who never knew him. I wanted them to see what their grandfather did, what their great-grandfather did. And this is the best way.”

To get to know his father better and further immortalize the truth of his father’s life and its’ meaning, De Niro Jr. created Remembering the Artist – Robert De Niro Sr. His life and struggles are explored through old journal entries and photographs, as well as interviews of those close to him.

Robert DeNiro Jr and Sr - Remembering the Artist

Robert De Niro Jr. made the documentary film “Remembering the Artist – Robert De Niro Sr.” to explore and preserve the life and struggles of his father.

It was something De Niro Jr. always felt should be done. “I should have done this ten years earlier, but I’m glad I did it now.” In fact ten years ago he was interviewed in Esquire Magazine, and was quoted as saying that one of his biggest regrets in life was not getting enough of his parent’s stories recorded for his children and grandchildren. Now he can be proud of this accomplishment.

As we see in the De Niro family, many personal journeys are sometimes difficult. That is why recording the triumphs and challenges of life experiences, and the wisdom gained, is so vital to a family’s history. Through journal entries and video recordings gathered to preserve it, we can get to know family members more intimately. The result will be lifestories and wisdom to cherish leading us to a better understanding of our own heritage.

Kudos to Robert De Niro Jr. for getting it done!

 

[1] http://www.esquire.com/blogs/culture/robert-de-niro-gay-father

 

 

 

James Cameron and The Value of Life Storytelling

Welcome back! We’ve been busy! After lots of filming days over the past few months we’re glad to play catch-up on the blog.

Earlier this summer Iris attended C2MTL a creativity and commerce conference featuring Academy Award Winning director and producer James Cameron as a Keynote Speaker. Famous for his Hollywood blockbusters, which include the top two grossing movies of all time Titanic and Avatar, Cameron has spent the past five years “off the set” exploring and filming in the deep-sea.

If you don't record your life history, who will? James Cameron speaks to C2MTL attendees in May 2014 about the importance of telling and sharing your stories in order to preserve wisdom from your adventures so that future generations may benefit. ​Photo: (c) David Sidaway

If you don’t record your life history, who will? James Cameron speaks to C2MTL attendees in May 2014 about the importance of telling and sharing your stories in order to preserve wisdom from your adventures so that future generations may benefit.
Photo: © David Sidaway

With passion fueled by twelve submersible dives to the Titanic during filming, Cameron formed Earthship Productions to further pursue ocean exploration, conservation, and documentary filmmaking. On March 26, 2012 he made a record-breaking 35,787-foot solo dive to the deepest known place on Earth, the Mariana Trench off the coast of Guam. During his keynote speech at C2MTL Cameron recounted how on this particular submersible dive, he had a revelation. It became very clear to him that in undertaking such a risky endeavor it would be of paramount importance to take time to reflect and record the life-changing event as part of one’s life’s stories to preserve for posterity.

Recording your life story is a precious gift to your family and friends and yet the benefits go beyond preserving your legacy for the generations to come. Reflecting on and recording life to date is also of tremendous value to the storyteller. By doing so you bestow upon yourself the gift of retrospect, allowing better clarity and perspective for your own future. A life story is the sum of many experiences and recording important ones while the memory is still bright can add a level of detail that may be lost as time passes and memory fades.

 You don’t need to dive down as deep as 35,787 feet to understand just how valuable it is to record your own life’s experiences. James Cameron highlights the importance of storytelling with his message that the life you live is unique to you and deserves to be recorded so that others may benefit from your efforts, personal history, and wisdom. 

Get your feet wet, start storytelling…

“I HAVE A DREAM…”

 

“I HAVE A DREAM…”

Much has been written about the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s epic civil rights speech “I Have a Dream”, delivered in Washington D.C. in 1963. On January 16th 2014, Dr. King would have turned 85 and we take this time to reflect upon his words and their ability to inspire since their passionate delivery 50 years ago.

The “I Have a Dream” speech is a prime example of an ethical will, a celebration of values, beliefs and wisdom. It is inspiration intended not only for those fighting in the civil rights movement then, but for those he knew would follow and continue carrying the torch.

It doesn’t matter if your audience is hundreds of thousands like Martin Luther King Jr.’s, or a handful of immediate family and friends, our most valuable wisdom and wishes for future generations can and should be recorded and shared in one’s lifetime– before it’s too late. Like the “I Have a Dream” speech our own ethical will stands not only as a testament to what we have learned, but as a touchstone others can use to look back, identify with, and be moved to action. It is this that makes his speech transcend generation after generation and keeps it relevant to this day.

Touching all themes typically found in ethical wills, Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech shares his values, blessings and life’s lessons, his hopes and dreams for the future and his love and forgiveness with family, friends and community.

Here is a brief overview of some of his powerful messages.  (And for those who wish to read it, the text of the entire speech can be found below.)

1) Sharing values, blessings and life’s lessons:

“We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force…

… I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.”

2) Sharing hopes and dreams for the future:

“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”

3)  Sharing love and forgiveness with your family, friends and community:

“The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone…

… I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character …

… And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

 We hope you take the time and reflect on the importance and relevance of Dr. King’s speech as we embark on life in 2014. We also hope you are inspired to take the time to record your own reflections for your heirs and future generations. Your messages don’t need to define an era to have significance or importance. All it needs to do is define you.

As promised, here is the “I Have A Dream” speech in it’s entirety. Enjoy.

 

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

DVD Release

If you missed it or would like to see it again, we’re pleased to announce that Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s is now available for Video On Demand, via iTunes, or your On Demand channel. Released on DVD August 27th, you may order your copy at Amazon.com.

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