My mother, Eleanor Creekmore Dickinson, turned 80 last month. To celebrate, I made a video from pictures of her life provided by many members of the family. The video contained a selection of the 1,346 best pictures I found from the last 150 years. Recent photos were available in digital form but older images had to be scanned. I was able to use some pictures from the 80th birthday video I made for my father, Wade Dickinson. However, scanning technology has improved so many of those 2006 photographs had to be re-scanned.
Here is the process – how the video was made, with generous technical support from my husband John and music advice from my daughter Jessica and brother Pete:
- Decide when the story starts: establish the historical, social, and geographic context
- I started 80 years before my mother was born, with ancestor pictures.
- I included pictures from my mother’s parents’ childhood, courtship, and marriage.
- Collect many many images
- Include pictures from each decade, if possible.
- Show important people and places: siblings, the house where she grew up, where she went during the summer.
- Scan yearbooks, invitations and announcements, certificates, awards, diplomas and other documents important to her life.
- Presenting both formal and informal pictures tells a fuller story.
- Include images from both family and work life. My mother is an artist, so I included pictures of her drawings, paintings, and sculptures.
- Scan pictures
- Crop if needed to focus on what is important in the picture.
- Leave off photo borders and frames (not always possible with old fragile photos).
- Scan many more than you will need so that you have a choice of images with both landscape and portrait orientations
- Put the images into a web page photo arrangement template.
- I used the “Keepsakes” photo layout pages which are part of Apple iPhoto – there are other programs available.
- I included a variety of page layouts for one to six pictures per page – keeping the same color background for each page for continuity.
- I wrote footer notes with dates and names and key places – sparingly, not on every page.
- I had planned to display the image sequence using iMovie but that application badly degraded the image resolution, so I used iPhoto instead.
- Collect music to go with the images
- We wanted a music medley with tracks from several periods in my mother’s life. Some songs I bought from iTunes. Jessica sang others and sent me the recording.
- We wanted the music selections timed to start and end as certain images displayed. This required much work.
- John exported the iPhoto slide show into iMovie to create a timed sound track. He then exported the sound track back into iPhoto for the image display. This was complex but created the best sound/image combination using the tools we had.
- Decide how long the show will be – we aimed for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Show early versions to friends and relations and ask for feedback.
- Make a paper book of the video for a lasting momento. This is very easy to do with iPhoto Keepsakes but there is a 100 page limit. The resulting book arrives quickly and is of good quality.
- This project took about 40 hours of work over two months to complete.
- My mother loved it!
Images Copyright 2011 by Katy Dickinson
28 March 2014 – links and references updated
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