Milestone Movies

We recently celebrated my sister’s 40th birthday, and I wanted to give her a “hand-crafted” gift that would be meaningful.  After searching high and low on Pinterest for gift ideas and not being inspired, I decided instead to create a “movie” for her.

I knew I’d want to combine photographs and video clips, and after searching through the websites available for making movies and trying out a free trial, I went with

It was a lot of fun going back through photos, and I had a hard time choosing which ones to use.  I also got all of our immediate family one-on-one to say a special message for my sister on video.  So I had video clips from our parents, our stepbrother, her husband, her children, my husband, my children, and me.

Title Screen

What I liked about Animoto:

  • Nice drag-and-drop interface, nothing too technical.
  • Fully customizable (order of photos, adding text “slides” or photo captions).
  • Edit videos on the site to trim down their length.  I also split a couple of longer videos into two sections with some photographs in between.
  • A lot of style templates from which to choose.
  • Use Animoto’s music (no bands you would recognize, but quite a few instrumental options), or you can upload your own music.
  • For longer movies, you can use multiple songs.
  • If you don’t have enough content for the whole length of the song, the site automatically does a nice fade-out of the song so it’s not noticeable.
  • Choose the file size / quality when your movie is complete.

End Screen

If you’re looking for song ideas, try the ones below.  [And no, I didn’t purposely pick songs with the same titles!]

  • “These are the Days” by Keith Urban
  • “Blessed” by Martina McBride
  • “These are the Days” by 10,000 Maniacs
  • “Blessed” by Brett Dennan

My mom, sister, and I were all crying by the end of the movie when I showed it to her the first time.  There’s just something special about photos set to music and sweet sentiments from loved ones.  These types of movies would be great for an anniversary, a yearly chronicle of your family,  or a child’s birthday as well.

I paid $16 for a one-month subscription and just made sure to finish and download my video during that month.  You can also create videos during a free trial on the site, but there are some limitations with the file quality you download.  And just to be clear, Animoto isn’t sponsoring this post.  I just wanted to share what I found to be a really helpful website.  You can check out some of their example videos on their homepage.

Don’t forget to back up your finished product to a site like flickr.  See my prior post about organizing and backing up photos & videos here. 😉