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Video History Today - a personal look


By Maurice Savage, Founder


The origins of Video History Today (the American Civil War products developed from research and visits to Battlefiedld sites in 2007) can be traced to a realisation during a personal visit to the former German Death camp at Auschwitz-Birkeneau in Oswiecim, Poland.  It was quite literally ‘people must see this’.


I was released (down-sized, laid off) from a long time job working for a retail bank in London, England and decided to take advantage of the opportunity to visit several places that had always been on my ‘to see list’.  The full list of trips, in order, took place over just 7 weeks in the summer of 2006: Amsterdam, Krakow (in particular Auschwitz-Birkenau), Prague, New York and finally to see the North Face of the Eiger in Switzerland.


While chatting to a school teacher friend prior to my trips, I realised that it might be fun to video a mascot in all these places and show the video to her class (of 5 year olds).  After naming him Ozzie, I departed on my travels and the seed behind Video History Today was planted.


Seeing Auschwitz for the first time made a real and lasting impact on me.  I was fortunate enough to spend two days in the two camps (the Museum is located on two site, formerly Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II Birkenau) allowed me to see more then the average day tripper on a guided tour.  Upon my return to England I discovered YouTube, the video sharing web site, and began to upload my experiences of the camps and the museum.


Ozzie in Prague

Over the coming weeks, and in particular on a series of hikes in the mountains of Switzerland, the basic idea behind Video History Today came together (creating an affordable, usable source of video clips for young people).  The key idea was to have the clips used BY THE STUDENTS.  Students could create historical video essays using my material, their own video material, archive material, music and finally topped with their own commentary: The Video Essay.


Did such a product exist already?  I used the internet to see what was available.  The primary video sharing site YouTube was an eye-opener and further reinforced my thinking:  young people are already using video, unlike their adult teachers and parents, and so maybe this could be a usable tool in the future.   


The one problem with YouTube is that it allows people to watch videos uploaded by other people video but did not allow me to make my own video essays using their material (at least not in a practical, non-techie, reasonable quality fashion).  I could not find any such source of modern video online (beyond the professional television-quality video stock libraries where 6 second clips cost $200) which schools, colleges and universities could practically afford.  


Video History Today was born and was launched as an online downloadable subscription service in March 2007.

I started by adding the low-quality video (from a compact still camera with video option) I had obtained in the summer of 2006 and after purchasing a mini-dv camera, began the slow process of visiting locations and editing & packaging the video.  


Over the next 18 months, nearly 20GB of compressed video files were uploaded to the site, with articles, photographs and other useful material created to provide the planned end users (students) with the basic raw material they needed to create their own historical video essays.


This video was one of my first YouTube mini-documentaries, (to see more from this first visit to Auschwitz, see the Video History Today YouTube channel).
















Original Auschwitz Part One

Unfortunately this business plan did not succeed at the first attempt. The download service was withdrawn in February 2009 and the USB based product launched.

 

Video History Today:  The Future


The download service depended on teachers accessing the site and having the vision about how to use the video material and knowing what to search for in the first place.  I believe now the approach is to provide more subject centred material in a more user-friendly package (USB memory stick).  I plan to one day re-launch an online download service because I believe this is an internet-era product for the internet/video generation.



Maurice Savage                                                       

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Video History Today has also uploaded many additional video clips with commentary showing many of the locations visited:

click here to visit the Video History Today YouTube Channel.



Full Range of Video History Today Products


The Video History Today products are all instantly downloadable and provide raw video clips recorded at places of historical interest.  The video clips were created to be used by teachers and students to broaden the understanding of key subjects:  the only restriction on the use of the material is the imagination of the teacher or students involved.


Holocaust


American Civil War



The Great War

(4 products)

D-Day

&

Normandy

From $7.95

From $7.45

 From $6.95

From $4.95

BUY NOW

BUY NOW

BUY NOW

BUY NOW

American Civil War Products


The American Civil War products developed out of the research and site visits made in the production of the American Civil War Video Collection shown above.  


The rationale behind the development of the American Civil War products was twofold:


1.    To bring together the mass of information available on the internet in one place; and

2.    To make the products unique by using the amazing Google Earth application.

American Civil War products on offer:


If you are only interested in either the Maps Collection of the Photographs Collection, each item can be purchased separately:


1.   American Civil War Maps:    $5.95 (direct link to Product HERE)


190 Battlefield maps;

Over 70 Battlefield overlays (created in Google Earth);

Over 500 Google Earth links;

Full Civil War Campaign listings and Battles by State and date listings (including Wikipedia web links to all the Battles).


2.   American Civil War Photographs:   $5.95  (direct link to Product HERE)


Over 2,000 archive photographs relating to all the major areas of the Civil War;

Nearly 600 Placemarks to the location of many Civil War photos and key locations;

Over 180  modern photographs taken close to same location as original photograph from the 1860’s.

A special Useful Information file containing copies of key Civil War era documents (Gettysburg address etc).

3.   American Civil War Collection:   FROM $9.95  (direct link to Product HERE)


The combined American Civil War Maps, Photographs and Teacher Pack in one product:

Over 280 lesson plans,

190 Battlefield maps;

Over 70 Battlefield overlays (created in Google Earth);

Over 500 Google Earth links;

Over 2,000 archive photographs relating to all the major areas of the Civil War;

Nearly 600 Placemarks to the location of many Civil War photos and key locations;

Over 180  modern photographs taken close to same location as original photograph from the 1860’s.

Full Civil War Campaign listings and Battles by State and date listings (including Wikipedia web links to all the Battles).