A while ago, Emilie of Nomad Photos shared her wonderful tips on taking great pictures of children. I have learned a lot from her. This time, my friend Ildiko of Push the Red Button is telling us how to take great family videos! I am grateful for my friends who are not only very talented, but are kindly sharing their knowledge with others. Are you making family holiday videos? Here’s one Ildiko made for a competition, I love it and hope you do too!
Looking back at the holiday memories
Now that the children are in school again, the parents can take a minute to look back at the summer. Kids everywhere are telling each other and their teachers where they were, what they’ve seen and experienced. So why wouldn’t you create your own private showcase? You can do that with the help of the thousand gadgets you were dragging around on your holidays.
Organize, import, edit!
First of all, you have to organize the photos and snippets of videos that were taken with your phone, your digital camera …and probably you’ll have another heap of files from your spouse’s phone, am I right?
It’s an essential part of the process, to collect it all in neatly ordered folders like: year, month, occasion: ‘2014-June-Holiday’. I know, this part is just as much fun as packing for said holiday for a baby, a toddler and two adults, where one (or two) of those one is a dragon, and no, it’s not asleep either.
So when you have them on the computer (because, seriously, who will edit videos on their phone?) comes the fun part! Yay! However, it’s going to take some time, so prepare yourself that you’ll be working on this process for a couple of evenings. Or not. I’m a perfectionist, so I go on and on and on, but ready is the best, believe me.
Get yourself an NLE which is fancy talk for Non-Linear Editing system. Still too fancy? All right, say: “movie editor”. One like PowerDirector (has 30-days trial, and totally worth every penny) is great, but anything will do really, as long as it has some options like fade-ins and outs, can split, trim and add audio tracks.
Import all the photos and video snippets you have neatly organized before into your editor software, and start to put them onto your time-line. Let the trimming commence!
Tell a story
At this point it’s good to think about what end result you will want to see. Give a frame to your story. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be Spielberg/Besson/Koltay/….* (*your favourite director’s name), to create a great holiday video. In this case, your story is your holiday well spent (whether home, or far away, doesn’t matter). That makes it ‘easy’: you don’t have to do complicated planning or storyboarding like the professionals. You can get as creative as you want, however, if you are starting out (and/or want to finish at some point): keep is simple. The chronological order how things have happened works fine: that is how your audience organizes the events in their head in the first place.
Probably, you have some footage and/or photos about:
– Preparing for the travel. You can shoot that later too, if you forgot it in the heat of all the chaos: show the camera your keys, tickets, and a shot of the bags standing in the hallway. Even one of these is enough of a hint for your viewers, that this is about you going on vacation.
– Leaving (including all the transportation used: plains, trains & automobiles)
– Arriving (the accommodation, the landscapes)
– Major events and/or happenings from your journey; kids, pets, family enjoying themselves
– Preparing the journey home
– Leaving, arriving home (waving hands in the distance)
If you don’t have much footage, don’t worry, you can get creative. More is not necessary better, sometimes it’s just more. A photo or a shot, however small, is enough. You can always try to make up some of it, if you really feel like you’ve missed something, but people usually don’t hang up on such things. If you have a couple of pictures about how you left: it’s pretty much the same when you got home, right? (Except for the tan of course!)
For an ending, you can use a couple of shots like:
– The washing machine working
– The kids happily playing in their room with the missed toys
– Your partner leaning back with a beverage, sighing ‘home sweet home’, or
– One about your pet purring happily in your lap.
Don’t worry if you have to work around something. Remember: the human mind easily fills the gaps. You don’t need to film it all to make your audience get the picture, so to speak. Also, there is an advantage to little choice and “not enough” video: you won’t drown in editing! And from where parents are standing: a finished project is the best project!
Tips for a great video
- Keep your audience in mind: keep it short! You’ll thank yourself later. Seriously, you will along with your family and friends. Keep the whole movie under the 5 minutes mark even if you had a two weeks vacation.
- Use only your best shots, first of all the most steady ones
- One shot should be about 6-seconds. Not too long, but long enough. This varies of course depending on if it’s a wide shot of all the landscape (can be longer), or a super-close-up about your kids/spouse/pets hands/eyes/mouth (can be shorter)
- Use an upbeat song for the audio track (otherwise you have to do a LOT of work with your audio, and usually it’s not that important, unless you made interviews. We’ll cover that in another post.)
- Use wide, medium and close-up shots through each other to keep it visually interesting
- Don’t forget about the details: hands, feet, over-the-shoulders looking at something. They will all mean something extra for you, when you look back in five or ten years. How small the kids’ hands were, how their little feet stomped around in the sand… memories fade, digital files (as far as we know) don’t.
- Do a little more: give it some titles. Something simple will do: opening and ending credits. Some lines with data, where you were, whom you were with, how old the kids were, what is the music you’ve used.
I hope you got enthusiastic about the idea making your own ‘highlight of the vacation’ video, and you found my tips and tricks useful.
Don’t forget: editing rules! If you’d took the time to shoot all that footage, don’t be lazy letting it dust somewhere. Create a video bit that will be your memory, something that you, your family and friends will all be happy to relive.
Ildiko, aka The Nerdy Mom is a Hungarian mother of two daughters, living in the Netherlands with a wonderful Dutch husband and their thousand and one gadgets. She’s drawn to everything that’s connected to family and video creation. She is also hopelessly forgetful, so she’s always on the lookout for catching the moment and storing memories on the long run.