Graduation isn't just about pomp and diplomas, it's a major life passage. And few things evoke that passage of time better than a video of childhood memories, from babyhood to the present. A graduation video makes a perfect gift for your now-grown child, and graduation party guests will love watching it too. Here's how to use your Apple laptop and family photo album to make one.
- Plan it: Before you start picking out photos for a video slide show, give some thought to the end product. You may adore watching hours of footage of your child, but if the DVD will be viewed at a graduation party, you'll probably want to limit the length to 5 or 10 minutes. At 4 to 5 seconds per image - any shorter and your viewers will get queasy - you'll be using 12 to 15 images per minute. And winnowing down 18 or 21 years of photographs to less than 100 images will be a major challenge. So before you open the family album and get swept up in a blissful, emotional reverie that makes choosing impossible, figure out a rough plan: 4 or 5 photos, for example, from each year, plus an assortment of images of the child with every family member, or a list of milestones and important events or activities that you want represented. Download or scan your images onto your laptop and place them in an iPhoto album.
Create "chapters": You can choose to do a video chronologically - watching your child and those around him or her grow year by year - or you can choose to do a video by topic/event. For example, if your child is an athlete, you can show the progress over the years - from t-ball to varsity baseball or softball. If you are a family that travels often, the video can be focused on the vacations and trips you have taken. There are many ways to organize your video so that it doesn't just go from birth to high school or college graduation - be creative and give it a really personal touch.
- Pick music: Give some thought to the music you'd like to hear on the soundtrack. Classical music or soft jazz is always nice, but you may prefer evocative music from a movie soundtrack, or songs such as Lady Gaga's "Born This Way," Katy Perry's "Firework" or Nickelback's "Photograph." Keep in mind what your graduate likes, since this is all about him or her and you want it to be something to be enjoyed for years to come. Download your choice(s) from iTunes or a similar music sales site.
Create cover art: Make DVD covers online to add a special touch. There are many sites where it's easy and inexpensive to do this. Include a special poem or song lyrics that have meaning to your graduate, or write a little tribute so everyone can read the words you may not get a chance to share on graduation day.
Finally, if you are overwhelmed by all of this but still think it's a great idea:
- Hire someone to do it for you: If this is not something you either want or have time to do, there are plenty of companies that will do it - for a fee, of course. Or find a teen or college kid who is a whiz at this type of thing, and pay him or her a much smaller fee than a professional would get. Bonus points if it's someone who knows the graduate - it will make the video that much more personal and meaningful.