Family videos made easy

Jan 18, 2016 | Personal

Update: Here’s the lastest of our family videos: Abigail’s third year


This post follows a number of requests on my facebook page for a “how to” post… so here you are!!

Let me just start off with a little motivational speech on my soapbox!! I think it is SOOOO important to DO something with all our photographs and videos. Our kids don’t want to inherit cloud accounts and hard drives of thousands of individual images and clips… they want to look back over their story… so this takes some editing – albums and slideshows for photographs, montages for videos… our children are THE most photographed generation… but what will they really have to show for it????

My video story: I remember it vividly, I sat in my hospital room, holding my one day old daughter and I saw a movie of her life play through my mind… her growing up and running through fields… I even had the soundtrack in my head… It was a beautiful, cinematic masterpiece …. I knew I wanted to make a video of my daughter… perhaps one video for each year of her life…

As a photographer with multiple SLR cameras capable of creating high end videos, I set myself the task of mastering videography…

The weeks went past and I was too busy googling what her poo should look like, getting to grips with feeding, rocking my baby in the ‘tiger in the tree’ pose…hence the video function on my SLRs remain untouched. Seeing the days and weeks rush past, I started to take short clips on my iphone and pocket camera. I kind of forgot about the cinema masterpiece but did continue to capture those sweet moments – the first efforts to blow a raspberry, giggles on the bed, the sweet way she rubbed her toes together…

When my daughter’s first birthday was approaching I suddenly realised I needed to do something with all these clips…as well as create all the photo books of the photographs I had!

I set myself the task of finding a software editing programme that had the shortest learning curve and quickest results! I knew of Animoto from my days as a wedding photographer as it is popular as a slide show programme. I dropped the Animoto helpdesk a short note, asking if I could just input video clips. The super-speedy answer, I was pleased to hear, was Yes.  Super! I had a plan.

It didn’t take long before I had her video done and we shared it with all our friends and family across the world and everyone loved it. Over the next year, my daughter watched it time and time again. Smiling and pointing at herself and her daddy and giggling away. Before long it became my ‘go t0’ distraction when she was in a grump! She would get to the end and smile at me and ask for ‘more’… slightly narcissistic maybe (!) but if it stopped a strop in it’s tracks then I wasn’t going to argue! But on a serious note, I think she could really see how much we loved her and how happy our times were together… it was a positive reinforcement of how much we valued her, and it comforted her.

Abigail’s First year video on Animoto


As her second birthday approached, I worried that the next video wouldn’t be as good. But I sat down, pulled the clips together and enjoyed reliving another year! Maybe the videos will start to bore other people, but I think documenting her life is incredibly important and video clips on a harddrive will never be viewed if they are not organised and edited…

Abigail’s Second year video on Animoto

I LOVE how easy Animoto is to use and I love the fact that I can grab clips easily throughout the year with minimal effort. (For me, it’s definitely a case of the easier I make it, the more likely I am to do it!)

Obviously there are tonnes of apps and video editing software packages out there.  The simpler the application, the less control you have and the more complicated the application, the more control you have but the longer it will take. I think Animoto has the perfect balance. I can select and trim clips in their software with ease, and reorder them easily, add music and choose for each clip if I want the clip’s sound on (which I think is a HUGE plus as I can cut out the noisy shopping centre soundtrack in one clip but still hear her calling out her name in the bath in the next)

Animoto is really a very intuitive programme but to follow is a step by step guide that might give you some tips to make things just a tad quicker….

 1. Pop all your videos in one folder on your computer (and keep a back up!!)

2. Watch all the videos and move  your favourites into a favourites folder

3. Open an animoto account. I use the pro version but you may not need pro. Pro works out at c. £24 for one month. (You can sign up to just one month. You can set this up from the start so that you don’t have to remember to go in and cancel the subscription. Make sure you find the monthly option rather than the annual one! )

4. Select your video template. I went for the simplist one they had.

5. Pick your sound track. (I absolutely stick with music I can use legally.  Thankfully Animoto Pro provides you with a huge list of music you are licensed to use.)

6. Upload all your videos. They will likely exceed the duration of your track but don’t worry about that yet

7. Go into each clip and select the portion of the clip you want to use. (Animoto used to say they needed to be between 3 and 10 seconds long. I think they may have removed this restriction but I think it’s a good guide to stick to anyway-  you want to see enough of the clip without it getting boring!!)

8. Also select if you want the audio on or off each clip. I keep it off most clips as I want to hear the music sound track. I just keep it on where the sounds in the clip are going to make a big impact or are important to the story

9. You will be able to see the full length of the sound track and as you cut down the length of each clip you will be able to add new clips in from the right hand panel.

10. You can also add in text slides or still images. I just do a text slide at the beginning so that it is more like a movie and less like a slideshow.

11. Once you are ready, produce your video and VOILA! Animoto provides a link to watch the videos on but you can (and should) download the videos and store them on your computer and hard drives as back up and post them to other sites like you tube or vimeo etc…

As long as your membership is valid you can go in and change the video at any time and produce a new link to view it on.

Here’s the link to their site: