Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Editing Tricks for Amateur Video #137: Edit the Biographical (Memorial) Video

Ideas for Creating a GREAT Biographical (Memorial) Movie

We're all hobbyists; our amateur editing skills are adequate, and we have some fun remembering our vacations.  Creation of a movie about the life of someone you cherish is a special challenge, one that stretches our skills.  We want to be especially proud when we share this work of love.

Here's a suggested workflow, based upon what worked for me when I created my Mom's memorial movie:

  • Plan ahead. 
    • Extreme urgency will always limit the quality of our work.
    • Gather interviews.
    • Scan and organize old photos & documents.
    • Digitize old videos if they are on tape.
    • Organize all the videos.
  • Create a storyboard or outline of the movie
    • Preview the media
    • Segregate media into themes, such as:
      • Early life
      • Major events
      • Having fun with friends & family
      • Travel/vacations
      • Work
  • Begin the Rough Edit
    • Use interviews as the primary timeline, to pace the movie's progress or support the outline.
    • Use other video and still pictures to illustrate the interview. 
  • Narration
    • Decide if you will use a third-person narration.  This narration can introduce the movie, fill-in gaps, and help transition to new themes. 
    • Write the narration script to support your rough edit
    • Record the narration yourself, or use a volunteer "voice talent"
    • Edit the narration audio into your timeline
    • Cut and trim, taking clues from the narration timing.
  • Add music track(s)
    • Copyright considerations:  
      • You might choose to use some of the honoree's favorite commercial music.  I suggest that, at a minimum, you borrow the person's own music collection or at least purchase the track(s).
      • Royalty-free music will assure that your video can be shared on the Internet.
    • Place the music into your project's timeline.
    • Cut and trim, taking clues from the music timing.
  • Transitions
    • Cuts and simple fades create an elegant look.
    • ...but this might be an opportunity to use some of your software's crazy transitions!
  • Titles
    • Titles can convey lots of information:  names, places, dates, etc.
    • Start with the Opening Title
    • Create informational titles to keep a consistent look
    • Closing title could be a beautiful still photograph of your loved one.  If this is a memorial, perhaps add their life dates.
  • Prepare final version
    • Watch the movie carefully.  Correct spelling errors.  Last opportunity for cut and trim to tighten the edit.
    • Preview the movie with a couple of friends.  Take notes, fix any errors.
    • Lock the edit.  Output the final version to your hard drive as a video at full resolution.
  • Distribution
    • Prepare for projection at the celebration. 
      • I suggest test it on your own equipment and bring your own equipment with you.
      • Bring a copy of the movie on a flash drive or external hard drive for backup
      • Output the movie as a DVD/BluRay disc.  Bring a DVD/BluRay player to the celebration as a backup.
    • Duplicate the DVD for attendees if desired.  There are inexpensive duplication services who will print a photo/text on the discs.
    • Post on the Internet if desired
I hope this is helpful!  Good luck with your memorial video project. 

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