Frequently Asked Questions


  • What is StoryVault?
    StoryVault is a website dedicated to sharing the memories of ordinary people - their own, their family, friends or anyone with an interesting story to tell. Users can discover more about their family history or share their own first-hand testimony of events they have witnessed. The content of a video may be a relative telling you what it was like growing up in the 1920s, or perhaps you know someone who witnessed first-hand a historical event such as the Falklands War or fall of the Berlin Wall.
  • How does it work?

    StoryVault is a content sharing website where users can upload, view and share video interviews, photographs or other documents. All of the information on StoryVault originates from its users.

    Once someone signs up to StoryVault, they can contribute by uploading video content or documents, and can create their own personal Tree. The StoryVault Tree has been designed so that it can be about your family, or any other organisation - such as a club, network or school.

    StoryVault users can also interact on our forums, and leave comments for other users. Even if you’re not signed up as a member, you can still browse the site. This means that students of Modern History can access first-hand accounts of the events they are studying.

  • How much does it cost to register?
    Nothing. It is free to register to join StoryVault.
  • Is StoryVault international?
    Yes - anyone anywhere in the world can use the site.
  • Who can use StoryVault? Is there an age limit?
    StoryVault is not intended for use by children under the age of 8. In addition, parents of children 8 years and older should consider whether their child should be supervised while using the site.
  • Why can't I see pictures or video on StoryVault?
    To access content on StoryVault you will need Adobe Flash Player. Click here to download it.
  • Why should I join StoryVault?
    By joining StoryVault you will become part of a social network enabling you to share in the lives and experiences of thousands of other people from around the world. By uploading your memories and those of your friends and family you will help create a valuable resource of stories and information for future generations, and secure your own place in history. So many of these stories will be lost unless someone takes the time to record them!


  • How do I create a profile?
    All you need to create a profile is an email address. Then, to sign up, you just need to provide us with some basic details, set a password and you’re ready to go.
  • How do I change my profile picture?
    When you join StoryVault you're automatically assigned a blue, default profile picture. To change your profile picture go to your My StoryVault page and click on the option to upload a new image. You can change your profile picture at any time.
  • Can I change my username?
    You can change your Username and other details at any time by going to My Profile in My StoryVault.
  • How do I change my password or email address?
    You can change your password whenever you want to by going to your My Profile page in My StoryVault and editing your settings.
  • I've forgotten my password what do I do?
    Don’t worry – we all forget things from time to time. All you need to do is go to this page and follow the instructions.
  • I want to leave StoryVault. How do I do that?
    We really hope you won’t leave us, but if you wish to, then all you need to do is go to ‘Edit Profile’ in My StoryVault and click ‘Delete Account’.
  • If I leave StoryVault will my videos and documents stay active on the site?

    StoryVault cannot guarantee that the content that users upload will be retained on the site and strongly advises users should retain originals. Content is stored against user accounts but only while those users have an account.

    While it is the intention of Storyvault to store your content safely for future generations, we cannot guarantee to do so, and we accept no responsibility in the event that uploaded content is lost or damaged.


  • How do I transfer my video from my camera to my computer?

    You may already have a digital camcorder (one that captures in Digital8, MiniDV, HDV or any of the DVD formats), in which case you're ready to start recording. Your camcorder will need a connection to your computer, either to the USB or FireWire port, or by inserting the DVD you've recorded. Once you have the digital content from the camera as a file, you can upload it to StoryVault or bring it into an editing program to make sure you get the best results.

    If you have an analog camcorder (one that uses VHS, VHS-C, SVHS-C, 8mm, or Hi8 tape) you can still get your videos onto StoryVault. However, as these camcorders are not usually equipped with computer connections, this will require an extra step and some additional equipment. You'll need to digitise the video with a converter box, which will convert the analog signal from the camcorder to a digital signal that the computer can understand. After the video has been digitised, you can edit and upload it.

  • How do I get the best video quality out of StoryVault?

    StoryVault works by taking the file you upload and converting it into a format called Flash. This process is known as encoding and because this means throwing away a little of the information in the original video file, the general rule is that the better the video quality being uploaded to StoryVault, the better the quality it will be after it's converted.

    Remember though that the higher quality your original file, the bigger it will be and the longer it will take to upload.

    Luckily, there is a happy medium and because StoryVault converts files to a fixed size, or resolution, so there is a sensible maximum quality that there is little point in exceeding. We would therefore recommend that you shoot your videos in as high quality a format as your camera will allow and then convert them to a file which StoryVault will find easy to encode and you'll enjoy watching.

    Once you're happy with the film you've made and you've finished any editing you want to do, we recommend that you save your video file with the following settings:


    • Standard Definition (SD) 640 x 480 - or 704 x 480 (if shot in widescreen 16:9)
    • High Definition (HD) 1280 x 720


    This should be set at the best for your resolution choice. Many systems have a sliding scale like this:


    However, if your software asks you for a value, the rule of thumb is “higher is better” but there’s no point setting it much beyond 1000kbs.

    Frame Rate:

    Don’t change this. Leave it as ‘the same as the original’.

    Video File Type or ‘Codec’:

    StoryVault can accept all sorts of files (see below) but we’d recommend H.264 or MPEG4 (MP4) with MP3 Audio or AAC at 44.1khz.

    If you follow all this, you should find that your film looks great and it shouldn’t take long to upload. Do remember, the higher the quality of your original file and the longer it is, the bigger the file will be and, if you have a slow internet connection you may have to upload shorter clips or accept a lower quality.

    We suggest that you start by making a short video clip – perhaps 30 seconds or so – and, using the settings listed above, give it a try. If this goes well, you can increase the length of your clips up to the maximum of 10 minutes.

  • How do I upload a story?

    You can upload any video, document and many types of image file such as those created by digital cameras. For a list of supported formats click here. Video files recorded on any digital camera can be uploaded directly, although you may want to edit them a little first to ensure you get the best results. Stills cameras often have movie functions, or you can even use your mobile phone or a webcam to create a file.

    Once you're ready with your file, simply click the upload button shown throughout the site. It's at this point you'll be asked to register, free of charge - a process that takes no more than a few minutes.

    Choose the file that you want to upload. We recommend that your videos are no more than 10 minutes in length and only one subject per story. Remember the longer your video the more time it will take to upload.

    Next tell us what the story is about. If your grandad has told you the story of his days as a fighter pilot in World War Two you may want to call it 'Grandad’s World War Two Days'. Next we need to know the event - in this case "World War Two". If you know an exact date the story took place then you should add it in.

    Next we need to know who is telling the story - you should insert the full name of the person you have interviewed (the 'interviewee') - and then tell us if they are related to you so this can be reflected in your Tree. You'll need to make sure you have permission from the person you have interviewed before uploading it.

    Then you need to give your story some tags - these are important keywords that people will use to find your story.

    Next add a short synopsis to give the viewer an idea of the content of the story.

    You're nearly there, but just before you upload you need to decide who will be able to view your story - everyone, just your contacts on StoryVault, your Family Tree contacts, or just you.

    Finally click the 'upload video' button to begin uploading.

  • What video file formats does StoryVault support?
    StoryVault accepts most video file formats, including .wmv, .mov, .mpg, .mp4 or .avi. If your video meets these minimum requirements and still won't upload, there may be a problem with the video compression you're using. We recommend the MPEG4 format at a 640x480 resolution with MP3 audio.
  • My video is over 10 minutes long. What should I do?

    You should try to keep your videos down to a maximum of 10 minutes. If your clip is longer than 10 minutes we advise you to edit it down. If you don’t already have an editing program on your computer we recommend Windows Movie Maker for PC’s:

    and iMovie for Macs:

    These are both basic video editing packages which are very easy to use.

  • What is the maximum size for a video file I can upload?
    You can upload a video file of up to 100Mb, but remember that the larger the file the longer it will take to upload. This upload time will also depend on the speed of your internet connection. Try a short video clip to start with to test your connection and the video quality you get.
  • I am having trouble uploading my video. How do I convert my file?

    If you have recorded your video in HD you may need to convert your file before you can upload it into your editing software. There are many tools and free software programs available to download. We recommend VoltaicHD:

    Both programs are simple yet effective high definition video converter that enable you to convert footage, shot on an AVCHD camera, so it can be edited in your favourite Mac or PC video editing software.

  • I have received an error message while uploading. What do I do?
    We recommend canceling the upload and trying to upload the video again.
  • How do I upload a document?

    Uploading a document is exactly the same process as uploading a video. Simply click ‘upload’ and follow the same steps as you would if you were uploading a video file. File types that are accepted are:

    • .AVI
    • .GIF
    • .JPG  .JPEG
    • .MOV .MP4 
    • .MPG  .PNG  .WMV
  • Who can see my video?

    You have four options as to who will be able to see your video or document.

    • Choosing 'Everyone' will mean that any visitor to the StoryVault site will be able to access and view your clip.
    • 'My Contacts' will mean only those who are your StoryVault contacts will see it.
    • 'My Family Tree' means that only those who are on your 'Tree' will see the video.
    • Finally by choosing 'Just Me' your video will not be made available to anyone until you choose to change its status.
  • How do I create chapters within my video?

    Once you have uploaded a video onto StoryVault you may wish to create separate chapters within it, which will allow you to highlight different sections within a single video.

    To do this, first choose the video in which you wish to create chapters. Watch the video and note the 'in' and 'out' times for the chapter you are creating. Next click the 'edit' icon at the bottom of the video and choose 'add new'. When the box appears place the cursor in the 'start' box which will allow you then to drag the arrows to the start point and the end point in the timeline. Give your new chapter a title and a tag so that it can be found easily by those searching for it and click 'save'.

  • Can I choose what chapters I create to be private or public?
    No. Whatever permission you have chosen for the entire video will reflect the permission in your chapter. For example if your video can be seen by everyone then everyone will be able to view your newly created chapter.
  • I have a video to upload but haven’t edited it yet. What editing package should I use?

    We recommend Windows Movie Maker for PC’s:

    and iMovie for Macs:

    These are both basic video editing packages which are very easy to use.

  • How do I remove or delete a video I have already uploaded?
    To delete a video that you have already uploaded, go to your profile page and click 'My Files'. Alongside each upload you will find the 'delete' button. Once you have deleted a video it will no longer exist on the StoryVault site and you will have to upload it again if you change your mind.
  • How do I edit information for a video I have already uploaded?
    Simply go to 'My Files' on your profile page and click 'Edit'. Here you will be able to make any changes to information you have already entered.
  • I don’t know all the information I am being asked for on the upload page. What should I do?
    When you start uploading a video we ask you for basic information about the clip so that we can make it easy for other users to search for your video. For this reason the fields marked with an asterisk * are compulsory.
  • How do I add subtitles to my video?

    You will need to do this during your editing process, and before uploading to StoryVault.

    If you have already uploaded your video to StoryVault and wish to add subtitles we recommend you try

    DivXLand Media Subtitler allows you to create and edit external subtitle files for AVI, MPG, WMV and all type of videos quickly and easily.


  • What is a tag?

    A tag is a word that you can add to your uploaded video or document that helps people find your content when searching, and will also help StoryVault to group similar content together.

    For example, if you have uploaded a video of your grandad talking about the D-Day landings in World War Two you could tag the video with the words ‘World War Two D-Day Landings” to help other users locate the video.

  • How do I add a tag?
    On the upload page you'll see a space to enter your tags. Just enter the terms you'd like to tag your video or document with. Separate each one with a space or join two words together in one tag by using double quotes, e.g. 'D-Day'.
  • How many tags should I add to my video?
    You can use as many tags as you like but we recommend that you use no more than 5.
  • Do I need to tag documents?
    Yes, tagging documents is just as important as tagging videos because this will help people find them when they perform a search.
  • Can I change a tag once my video has uploaded?
    You can change a tag at any time by going to your profile page and 'My Files'. Choose the video you wish to change the tags for and click 'edit'.


  • How do I add someone as a contact?
    You can add someone as a contact by going into My StoryVault and clicking on 'My Contacts'. To make it easier, you can automatically import contacts from your Outlook, Yahoo and Gmail address books, as well as your Facebook contacts. The person you are adding will have to confirm that they are happy to be your contact on StoryVault and register with the site if they are not already on it.
  • What happens when I add someone as a contact?
    When you add someone as a contact they will be able to contact you through StoryVault. You will also be able to choose what content you have uploaded they are able to see. You can remove a contact at any time. The contact that you remove will not receive a message saying that you have removed them, but they will no longer appear on your contacts list.
  • How do I send a message to other StoryVaulters?
    You can send a message to another user from your mailbox in My StoryVault or by clicking on their photo and following the 'contact this member' link.



  • Who should I interview?

    You can interview anyone you want who may have an interesting story to tell – be it a member of your family, a friend, a colleague or your neighbour.

    The most important thing is to ensure that whoever you interview feels comfortable and relaxed, and so able to talk freely and as though they are having an informal conversation.

    Before you begin, tell your interview subject that there is nothing to worry about. They should say whatever they want to say, and if they say something they wish they hadn't said, you will edit it out afterwards. You should then respect their wishes, and never publish anything they wish they had not said.

    Don't think you can't interview someone because they don't speak English - you can add subtitles to your video in your edit or after you have uploaded your video using

  • What permissions do I need to get from the person I interview?
    You should make sure that the person being interviewed understands the purpose of the interview and how the interview will be used. They are telling us something about their life. We want you to be able to make their stories available to a wide audience. If you would like your interviewee to sign a permission letter then click here for a printable version.
  • Where is the best place to conduct an interview?
    It is usually best to film your interviewee somewhere familiar to them, and somewhere which might also give the viewer some information about the person. Someone who loved cooking might feel comfortable in their kitchen, or a handyman in his shed, or a grandmother surrounded by her framed photographs.
  • How should I frame the shot?
    Ideally you should frame your subject in "middle close up" - not too close or too far away. Think of the standard shot of newsreaders. You should sit alongside the camera, and ask your subject to ignore the camera, to look at you, and to chat as though there was no-one else present.
  • What should the light be like?
    Natural light works well, outdoors if the sunlight is not too bright, or near to a window. If you are using artificial light, make sure that it is not shining brightly into the eyes of your interviewee. Lighting from above and slightly to the side is more flattering. Don't place a light behind your interviewee unless you are an expert, as it tends to darken the face of your subject.
  • Do I need a microphone?
    Ideally, it's best to use a separate microphone such as a tie-clip or even a hand held microphone that you plug in to your camera. Some cameras don't support this and generally the built-in microphones they come work well. Try to choose a place which is as quiet as possible. Most camera-mounted mics will pick up noise from any direction, so be aware of loud traffic noise, road-works or music etc. If you are using a hand-held mic, make sure that it is pointed at the person being interviewed; (the questions will always matter less than the answers). If using a lapel or tie-clip mic, be aware of the risk of rustling against cloth as your interviewee moves about when speaking.
  • How many questions should I ask?

    It's always good to prepare a list of questions you intend to ask before you start, but you may not need to do this if you know the person you are interviewing really well. The best interviewers listen carefully to what the interviewee is saying, and ask appropriate follow-up questions. For example, if someone says “it was the second funniest thing that ever happened to me” the whole world wants to know what was the most funny thing. So have your list to fall back on, but don’t be afraid to deviate from it when required.

    Here are some example questions which may help getting you started.

    • Where and when were you born?
    • If you were born in another country, how and when did you come to this country?
    • Can you tell us something about your family circumstances?
    • Did you have a happy childhood?
    • Can you tell us something about the house you lived in?
    • What was school like for you?
    • Can you tell us something about your career?
    • Where is the most interesting place you ever visited?
    • Did you ever personally witness any event which made a news story on TV or the newspapers?
    • What was the most dangerous or frightening thing hat ever happened to you?
    • What do you consider to be the most important event of your lifetime?
    • Who is the person you most admire in the world - they may be famous or not famous – and why?


  • How to...Upload

    Uploading a video onto Storyvault couldn’t be easier. Make sure that your file is not more than 100mb in size and no longer than ten minutes in length. Remember the longer your video the more time it will take to upload – and so you might want to edit it into sections. We have found that the ideal running time of an individual clip is about 4 or 5 minutes.

    Here are the steps you’ll need to take to upload your content:

    • First you’ll need to register with SV or login to your User Account.
    • Next click the ‘upload now’ button which is always visible in the top right hand corner of the site. The time it takes to upload will depend on the length of the clip and the speed of your broadband service.
    • Now choose what you want to upload – a video file or a document. For videos we recommend that they are only one subject per story. As your video uploads you will see a progress bar.

    While your file uploads you’ll need to fill in come details:

    • Give your story a title. If your Grandad has told you the story of his days as a fighter pilot in World War Two you may want to call it ‘Grandad’s World War Two Days’. This is important as it will help people find your story when they search.
    • Next if you know the date the story took place then add it in here, if not then don’t worry you can always add it later if you find out.
    • Next we need to know who is telling the story and if they are related to you.
    • Now you need to give your video some tags – these are important keywords that people will use to find your video.
    • Finally decide who will be able to view your video – Everyone, just your StoryVault contacts, your family tree contacts, or just you.

    For more help on uploading or anything else on StoryVault don’t forget to look in Frequently Asked Questions.

  • How to...Invite

    To invite your friends or family to join Storyvault, simply log in to your account and go to ‘Your Network’ in ‘MyStoryvault’ and click on the ‘Invite’ link.

    You'll be able to specify the email address of your friend or family member and enter an optional message inviting them to join. If you want more people to join you can click ‘import contacts’. Here you can add as many email addresses from your other email accounts as you like and send a personal invitation.

    Once they’ve joined they will be able to join your family-tree, create their own tree and start uploading content too!

  • How to...Get the best results


  • How to...Edit

    Before uploading onto Storyvault your video should already have been edited. We recommend that each story you upload is no more than 10 minutes long. We have found that 4 to 5 minutes tend to work best. Remember, the longer the video the longer it will take to upload.

    Most video cameras come with an editing programme that you can download onto your computer, or you may already have a preferred editing package.

    If you need help editing we recommend trying Windows Moviemaker for PC’s and iMovie for Macs. You can find links to these programmes in the Help centre on the site. Simply click the link to download. We have found that they are easy to use.

    For detailed help on editing click here.

  • How to...Add chapters

    Once you have uploaded your video you may wish to create separate chapters within it.

    Choose the video you want to add chapters to and click the edit icon on the tool bar below the video.

    To create a chapter simply click ‘add new’. To select the clip click ‘Start’ and drag the arrow on the left hand side of the bar below the video to the point you want your new chapter to begin.

    Next click ‘End’ and drag the arrow on the right to the point you would like the chapter to end.

    Finally give your chapter a name and a tag - make sure the tag clearly reflects the clip. This will mean that anyone who searches for information that is shown in your new chapter will be directed to that specific chapter in your video when they carry out a search.

  • How to...Publish

    When you upload a video to Storyvault it’s up to you who gets to see it and StoryVault provides you with four options:

    • 'Everyone' - this means that all StoryVault registered and non-registered users will be able to see it.
    • 'My Contacts' - only those you have made your contact on StoryVault will be able to access the video.
    • 'Members of my Family Tree' – only those added to your Tree can view the content.
    • and finally 'just me'.

    You can change who gets to see your videos at anytime by going to MyStoryVault and MyVideos, finding the video and changing it accordingly.




  • More Info

    There is no better way to interest younger people in history than for them to realise that people they know were part of it! That’s why we have made “Meet the Grandparents” a key part of the StoryVault experience. It is already a part of the National Curriculum for 8 year olds to be encouraged to interview their grandparents; this promotes understanding across generations and helps children to understand that “the past” wasn’t so long ago!

    At StoryVault, we would like to encourage older children to interview their grandparents on video, and to upload the content onto the site, so that it can be available for themselves and their families in the future, and also for the benefit of others who are studying the particular moment in history.

    Obviously the heading “meet the grandparents” should not be taken as confined to grandparents – the suggestion applies equally to parents, aunts and uncles, siblings, or friends of the family. Anyone, in fact, who has had experiences which would be of interest or value to interested parties from today or in the future.

    We ask users to edit and organise the content they record, and upload it, so that it easily accessible. This involves editing a section of interview into a single subject, and then labeling individual sections with keywords. This process improves IT and media skills. It also means that if a visitor to the site enters “the Blitz” into “search”, they should immediately find all of the interviews uploaded by anyone which have mentioned the Blitz.

    We want to encourage schools to ask pupils to interview parents, grandparents, or friends of the family, to help them to begin to understand something of their own past and history. Once uploaded onto the site, this new content can readily form the basis of class discussion or projects. Students can be encouraged to gather together interviews and contributions, to make their own on-line documentaries on a particular subject. This helps them to understand how television works, and to be able to interpret the world as presented to them through the media.

    We intend that StoryVault will make a contribution to family and social cohesion, through enabling younger people to understand more about the early lives of their own parents or grandparents. This may have a special relevance for ethnic communities, in which older generations are particularly keen that their own heritage should be preserved.

    Finally, where appropriate, we encourage users to improve their skills in foreign languages by adding sub-titles to the material they upload, so that an interview can be made accessible to the widest number of users. This may equally involve translating English into Urdu, or the other way around!

    For further information on how StoryVault can be used in Schools please see Help for Schools



  • What can I do to use StoryVault safely?

    Posting videos of your friends or your family can be great. You never know who will find it—it might even get featured on the front page, or end up as one of the Most Viewed videos! If your video is personal however, you may consider marking it private so that only your friends and those you share it with can view it.

    Despite StoryVault’s safety and privacy controls, StoryVault cannot guarantee that the site is entirely free of illegal, offensive, or otherwise inappropriate material, or that its members will not encounter inappropriate or illegal conduct from other members. If you do encounter such content and conduct you can help by notifying us and we will take steps to rectify the situation.

    And remember, always keep your password private!

  • Safety for children.

    Children under 8 years of age are not permitted to use StoryVault without parental supervision. In addition, parents of children 8 years and older should consider whether their child should be supervised during the child's use of the site.

    For a more comprehensive guide to safety for children on Storyvault please click here.

  • How can I gain access to my child's account?
    If you are a parent and concerned about your child's online activity we encourage you to use software tools on your own computers to assist in overseeing your child's Internet access. We recommend carrying out a search for computer-based Internet control technology on your preferred search engine to discover options that you may wish to use.
  • What if my child sees inappropriate content or offensive material?
    StoryVault takes the safety of its users very seriously and will do our best to ensure that any objectionable material that may be posted on the site is removed. We urge users to report offensive profiles, comments or content. Reported items are then reviewed and removed if deemed in violation of our Terms and Conditions.
  • Does StoryVault have any Privacy controls?
    Each StoryVault user's profile can be seen only by those who they have confirmed as contacts. Users also have the ability to mark their content as Private which enables only those within their contact group to view it.