Are you someone who takes plenty of great pictures and even video of your kids at school performances, birthday parties, family vacations, and sporting events throughout the year… and then never knows what the heck to do with them? Well then, let me share with you an idea I had last year… where I made a surprise gift for my family… a movie that was a recap of the year, highlighting all of the cool things that we had done in 2010! They loved it! So much that I plan to create a “Year in Review” movie again this year for my family. Is this something that you would like to try? If so, here are the steps involved in creating a family movie:
Step 1: Get it all uploaded to your computer
Videos and pictures will do you no good if the only place that they reside is in your camera! To enjoy them, you'll need to upload them onto your computer. Preferably a computer with a good amount of space left on your hard drive- because video files and photos can be fairly large-sized files! Unsure on how to upload? Your camera likely came with an instruction manual, and possibly even cords and software to use to get the stuff off of the camera and onto your computer. what? You can't find that little instruction manual? No worries- just “Google” it… search on “how to upload pictures from Nikon Coolpix camera”. Chances are, someone somewhere has written an e-how article on it, or many times you can even find an e-version of your manual right on the manufacture's website.
Set aside an evening, find some patience, and take the time to learn how to move all of your files from you camera to your computer. I recommend that you create a little “cheat sheet” for yourself after you have learned how to upload… because if many months go by before you attempt to do this again, you might forget how in the world you did it. Having a little cheat shed will help you skip the research step all over again!
Step 2: Find the right editing program
One that will help you to gather all of your video and pictures together and turn it into a cool movie! If you are a Windows computer-user, there are two free programs that you can use as your editing program- Windows Movie Maker and Windows Live Movie Maker. If you are a Mac user (as I am), you'll by happy to know that iMovie came pre-loaded onto your Mac! You are ready to get started!
Now yes, there are many more video editing programs out there… and many of them are much more sophisticated than anything I am recommending here. But if you are new to this whole idea of creating a movie… then I recommend that you are start with a simple and free program for your first movie. If you find during this process that you discovered your inner-Spielberg… by all means spend the big bucks and buy a “real” editing program!
Now once you select your editing program, invest some time in learning how to use it by watching some of the online video tutorials. Here is what you can find at Apple:
Step 3: Select your video clips
Now let's face facts… this will take some time. You'll need to watch or perhaps briefly scan through hours and hours of footage to find the “clips” (which are just small sections of the video you filmed) that you'll want to use in your movie. Your editing program will outline a process for you to follow, where you will highlight the sections of video you want to include in your final movie, and then you'll copy and paste them into another window (an iMovie you are copying the clips into your “project”).
My advice for you here as you are selecting your clips- is to select two-three clips from each family event that you want to include in your movie. So for a birthday party, maybe a clip of the birthday child playing a party game, a clip of blowing out the candles on the cake, and a clip of all of the partygoers together. Several clips will help you to “tell a story”… instead of selecting just one clip from each family event which will make your movie feel as if it is jumping from one thing to the next.
Step 4: Select your still pictures
If you are like me, I take far more still photos over the course of a year than I do videos. So to include everything I would like to do in a year in review, I need to add some still photos to my movie. Your video editing program will allow you to do this easily. You can define how long you want each photo to show on the screen (2-4 seconds) and you may even have options to stack the photos or show more than one at a time.
Again, this can be a bit time consuming as you peruse through all of your pictures that you have taken in the last year in order to find the ones that help you to tell your story.
Step 5: Add transitions and titles
Now we are getting into the stuff that makes your video and pictures come together as a cohesive and “professional” movie. Transitions define how one movie clip ends and the next one begins… perhaps a blurred ending into a blurred beginning. Or perhaps a director's board snapping open and shut, perhaps one clip spinning out while another one spins in. Your editing program will likely offer you several options. My word of advice is to limit yourself to only one or two types of transitions effects and use them throughout your movie.
Titles are a great way to identify the clips or photos you are showing. So in ten years when you watch your “year in review” movie, you aren't scratching your head wondering which beach you were on when your kids decided to bury Daddy up to his neck in sand! Another idea to make your family movie more of a time capsule… is to include some titles pages that talk about the year's headlines, or maybe the prices of items this year, or other news items that were important to you.
Step 6: Add music
Home movies are so much more exciting with the addition of some background music- especially during those times when your video is showing pictures and there isn't any sound. I like to use whatever music was popular this year- again as a way to make this movie feel a bit like a time capsule and capture what our lives were like over the past year. I know that someday in the future, I will get a kick out of remembering what music we liked “back then”!
Your editing program should allow you to add background music, and fade it in and out as you like- so if you have a video clip of your child's band concert- you can fade out on the background “popular music”, and allow the sound from the video clip to take over. Then after that clip, fade your background music back in as your movie changes to showing still pictures, and so on.
Step 7: Create the movie
After you have completed the six steps above, and you are happy with your “project”, it is time to actually burn the DVD and turn it into a movie! Your editing software will provide a way to do this, and if you are unsure on how to proceed- be sure to use the “Help” menu to find the correct steps for your software program.
This is not a quick and easy homemade gift- that is sure- but it is one that your family will truly treasure for years to come. And it is really a gift from your heart.