August 23, 2005 Woody Allen’s take on death probably mirrors the thoughts of most of us: “I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not dying.” In reality, the best we’re likely to do is to be remembered as we see ourselves and now there’s a fledgling industry hoping to help people and their loved ones do just that - create and deliver tributes and messages from the grave. Though home moviemaking has been around for decades, the full possibilities of multimedia to create a lasting memory and tribute have certainly not yet been fully explored though Florida-based VIDSTONE is now planning a full suite of memorial products ranging from a tribute video production service, specialist multimedia software for creating life tributes at home and a solar-powered, weatherproof multimedia system inside the gravestone.
The VIDSTONE Serenity Panel plays a 5 – 7 minute personalised multimedia tribute via a 7-inch solar-powered LCD screen built right into a stone monument or mausoleum. The Serenity Panel is housed in weatherproof enclosure for protection against the elements and includes security features, simple touch-button operation and only needs four hours of sunlight per day to remain fully charged. The Panel also features a self contained sound system to allow for privacy accessible by 2 standard headphone jacks.
VIDSTONE founder and Chief Executive Officer. Sergio E. Aguirre had the idea for the company while attending a wake, finding himself inspired by a multimedia tribute celebrating the life of a relative who had passed away. He noticed that the sombre mood of the gathering changed as the tribute was played on a movie screen, with tears turning to smiles as guests remembered the happiness and uplifting moments the individual had experienced. The VIDSTONE Serenity Panel resulted and subsequent alliances with LifeTributes and FuneralOne are designed to provide a seamless tribute production service for people.
To be truthful, the first thought that crossed this writer’s mind when seeing the catchcry for funeralone’s Easy Tribute Creator software was one of cringe – the company’s site claims the software will allow you to “Create world class videos at home in minutes.” It might if your name is Steven Spielberg, but we’ve all seen feature movies with eight figure budgets that are embarrassingly bad so the potential to make an utter botch of your loved one’s tribute has never been greater than in attempting to do it yourself. As good as the software might be, having a scalpel does not make you a brain surgeon.
In addition to loved ones creating a tribute for their dearly departed, the next phase of this industry will be those who choose to create their own tribute. As we all know, few people have true 20-20 vision when it comes to self perception, so there’ll no doubt be some (quite literally) eternally embarrassing self tributes created by people who have spent large tracts of their life detained by full length mirrors.
Now the Serenity Panel operates using a lithium-ion battery and approximately four hours of direct sunlight is required per day to ensure that the battery remains fully charged. On a full four hour charge, the Serenity Panel plays up to approximately 30 minutes, which allows 3 to 4 viewings of a typical 7 to 10 minute tribute. When the need does arise, the battery can be easily replaced by authorized cemetery personnel. So clearly there’s an opportunity for an upsell for those who figure they’ll be able to pull an audience greater than four a day after they have passed on.
There might also be those who wish to change their message with the seasons, on anniversaries, birthdays, and at other moments appropriate for the people they wish to communicate with after they have gone. Currently this is a manual process, and tributes on the Serenity Panel can be added or deleted at a customer’s request for a fee. Who knows, there might even be a fully networked service offered at a later date so content can be refreshed and rotated.
VIDSTONE’s Serenity Panel may be recessed into most kinds of stone monuments. The product is backed by a full one year product warranty and optional protection plans including a vandalism plan which includes free repair.