It’s that time of year again. Graduations, vacations and lots of weddings mean you’ll want to capture and display those memories for posterity. This week’s question comes from a reader who wanted to make a slide show or video of her son’s memories to be played at his graduation party. She wanted software readily available and easy to use, and free would be good. There are many choices available depending on whether you are Mac or PC and what you are already doing with your pictures; but I recommended using Windows Live Move Maker (WLMM) which is free for the download to anyone using Windows 7 or Vista with Service Pack 2.
Choosing the software might be the easiest part of this project since its use is fairly intuitive; but planning and setting up for the project is crucial as it makes for a smooth execution. Here are some tips to make the project easy.
First make yourself a workspace. I recommend creating a folder like”Graduation”. Inside that folder make a folder for Pictures, one for Music (if you choose to add some), another for WLMM Project files and one for versions of the final Video. You’ll be making different versions of the project and keep them in an editable form so that you can add, subtract and rearrange pics, add music, add titles and make timing adjustments to perfect the finished product. Once you have a product you like, you’ll convert the project files to a video and most likely after you play it a few times, you’ll make another with still more adjustments.
Next select your pictures. This may be one of the hardest parts. You have 2000 pics and you must get it down to a number that will make an interesting but not boring presentation. My rule of thumb is shoot for 100 to 150 pics; you’ll want to display them for maybe 3 seconds each and 150 will run for about 7 and a half minutes which is probably enough for even your closest friends and relatives. You can make a longer version for yourself. After you make your selection, resize them smaller. You don’t need a 12 megapixel pic to make a good video, especially to show on a laptop screen
Now choose your music clips, in some kind of MP3 form and remember you want to play enough of each clip to keep from sounding choppy. Three or four clips are plenty in a project of this size. Remember that if you buy copyrighted music you may only share it from your PC with your friends. Add your pictures to the project and rearrange them as you like; it’s easy to preview your creation at any time. Choose transitions, timing and animations if you like. Add titles where needed; credits if you want. Get all this stuff set, before you start adding music clips. The beginning and ending of music tracks is one of the most difficult tasks of the project. If your work is interrupted at any point, just save the project as a “project” and you can pick it back up later. Now add your music and adjust the audio and video tracks so that they are synced. If it doesn’t match exactly, just fade the music out at the ends of scenes so it won’t disrupt your audience.
Once you have everything synced; then save it in the format you want to use. You can choose, Burn to DVD, Use on My Computer, Email or even Play on a Mobile Device.
Make some memories and make a movie and till next week, send your questions to: