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Tools for Creating Memorial Videos

Tools for Creating a Memorial Video

Many funeral homes recommend outside professional services for families to create a memorial video. A memorial video is a short compilation of photos (and occasionally videos) spliced together with music that showcases a loved one’s spirit and personality. Displaying a memorial video at a service can add a heartfelt touch that families will appreciate. But you don't have to send your families to an outside source. With today's technology, creating a video is fairly simple.

Use an Automated Service

There are several companies that partner with funeral homes to create memorial videos -- and other memorial products -- for families. They are already designed to help funeral homes which makes connecting with them a sensible business opportunity and can save you time. Companies like FuneralOne, Tukios, Frazer Consultants, Timeless Tributes and Making Everlasting Memories are a few service providers available.

Some offer the options to: add video clips in addition to photos, select personalized themes, add captions, play licensed music in background, and more. Some programs, like Tukios, allow you to send a link for families to upload their photos themselves, which would save you time from having to scan each photo if a digital file does not exist.
Most of these services have additional products you can sell such as custom cards, stationary, memorial websites, webcasting services, candles and more.

Almost all of these programs are user-friendly. You simply upload a family's digital photos to a program, select backgrounds, choose music, and add captions if desired. Then the video will be created from those choices. They have different packages available, so you can set your own price and decide how you would like to include it into your own packages.

However, there is a down side to these services. While these videos are created for you and can save you time, they are all automated which means there will be limitations on what you can do to truly honor the legacy of a person -- and they may lack originality and the understanding of the family's loved one. 

Create Your Own Video

You also could consider creating memorial videos with in-house staff. Creating a memorial video in-house can bring more life to the video because of the personal touch and connection you have with a family. Interacting with a family in person provides a higher sense of awareness and understanding of an individual in comparison to the use of an outside service. It may take more time, but it can save you money you would have given to the outside provider, and the family will appreciate the attention and time you've given them.

If you decide to create a video in-house, here are a few tips to assist you with the process:

  1. Tools and Software - You will need a reliable computer and a photo scanner. You will also need to have access to an editing software like iMovie or Windows Movie Maker, which generally are already installed on your MAC or PC. If they aren't, there are many free editing programs available online. Your first step is to gather images the family wishes to include in their video. If they don’t have a digital photo, you will need to scan the image and save it to your computer. However, there are many auto-feed photo scanners out there that can scan 20 photos in 1 minute - which would save quite a bit of time. Once you have collected all the photos, you will be ready to edit.

  2. Editing –  The most popular arrangement of photos in a memorial video is to start with childhood photos and move through that person's legacy. Consider asking the family to have their digital collection arranged chronologically or in the desired arrangement they will playback. You may also want to ask a few personal questions about family members such as, "Who is this person in this photo?", "How are they related?", or "What was your loved one's relation to this person or place?"Be sure to take notes -- every detail they share can be included in the video and add a very personal touch. Add each photo to the editing software’s timeline in the play back order.

    • Consider the music - Collaborate with the family to see what type of music best suits their loved one's personality. If the music has a slow beat or rhythm, you will want edit the duration of a photo to about 5-6 seconds and not any longer. If it is a photo with lots of details or people, you can add a few more seconds, but don’t do this for all your photos. If the song is a bit more upbeat, try to time the cut for each photo to the beat.

    • Transitions - Should you fade in and out or just cut right to the next photo? A typical rule of thumb is to use faded transitions when using slower music. It will provide a smooth and relaxing display of one photo to the next. However, if you have more upbeat music, then you may want to consider leaving out a transition; again editing to the beat. The use of whimsical transitions such as a barn door, flying star, or other similar transitions are out-of-date and are not recommended.

    • A beginning and an end – A title card in the opening of your video will tell viewers what they are about to watch. Opening with a soft fade into the first image also is an effective introduction. If you decide to use a title card, it is popular to display the person’s name in the beginning and a phrase at the ending (i.e. “In loving memory,” “We will never forget you,” or “you’ve touched our lives”).

      See a good example of the uses of title and overlay graphics in this video:

    • Consider other elements – You have your photos, music, and your introduction and an ending. What else is there? One element that is very effective is the overlay of captions during the video. These captions can add additional personal touches. Common things to add are places she or he lived or traveled, accomplishments, and special moments with friends and family. Be sure to leave the overlaid graphic up long enough for a person to read it.

  3. Duration – A family may try to hand over decades of photos of their loved one that want in their memory video, but realistically you may not have enough time dedicated to create a full-length feature film. When considering a pricing model for this concept, consider breaking down the options to the number of photos. A collection of 60-70 images will likely produce a 5-6 minute video. 

  4. Make it uplifting - Discuss including fun images of the family's loved one. Fun images allow families and friends to connect with that person’s past memorable moments and can create a more uplifting environment. Fun images could include a photo of that person sitting on Santa's lap. Or maybe there are photos of them getting their face smashed into a birthday cake.

    Here is a great example of adding fun photos and videos. The silliness of some of the photos and videos just makes you smile.

  5. Music – Depending on the individual and his/her personality, suggest to the family to choose music that matches that person. Were they a light-hearted individual and the family wants a whimsical video? Then use fun and upbeat music. Maybe they were compassionate or thoughtful – consider softer music. You could also use a combination of both. Group photos together according to the music. For instance, you can start the video with a slideshow of childhood photos and memories with a slower song. Then when you get to sillier images, you can then change the pace of the video with more upbeat music.

  6. File Formats – The most common video file format is a .mp4. You can also use .mpeg or .mov but the final output (file size) can be large. These files play on most computers, but you may also need to create a DVD.
Offering memorial videos to your families has many benefits. The best part is seeing how families react and reminisce with the display of their loved one's legacy.
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