How to create a life story in a short video

Creating Your Legacy
Phone showing a video of happy friends.

Back in the day, some people's parents would make family home videos using camcorders and then transfer them on to VHS tapes.

If you have some of them lying around, you can gather those family movies, and digitize the videotapes using cables that can be purchased cheaply online. These simple pieces of equipment will allow you to smoothly transfer those charming home videos onto your computer or external hard drive.

You can then upload the videos to your favorite hosting platform, like YouTube or Vimeo. Likewise, you can share these timeless videos on your Memories Living Timeline, so that your friends and loved ones can reminisce with you no matter where they are.

In this article, we'll look at how you can edit old footage — and even new videos — to create a life story video.

1. Choose

First things first: choose which video clips you want to include in your life story.

More often than not, we record video in bite-size scenes. Thankfully, almost all smartphones, apps, DSLRs, and video cameras automatically save video clips in chronological order, with the time and date included in the file name. This will allow you to select certain clips in a folder without having to reorganize them manually when you transfer them into a separate folder.

Remember, to select multiple files that are in different areas of a folder, press and hold the Ctrl key while clicking. For MacBook, press and hold the Command key while clicking. Don't stop holding the Ctrl or Command key until you're finished selecting all of the files you need. Afterwards, do not click on anything other than any of the files you selected. For instance, if you click on a file you didn't select, or the white space (background) in the folder, then you might have to start the selection process all over again.

2. Gather

After selecting the files you want to use, right-click one of the files you selected, and choose Copy. Now, create a new folder in any parent folder or drive you prefer. Title it something like "Life Story" or "Family Memories". Just be sure that it's easily identifiable so you don't confuse yourself in the future when you need to find it.

Now, paste the files you copied into the new folder. These will be the copies you will use for your project. This will prevent you from accidentally deleting, editing or corrupting the original files. It's kind of like making a Xerox copy of your social security card or birth certificate when applying for a job or a visa. The originals are just too important to risk losing or damaging.

In this project folder, you can now re-arrange the clips if you want, but since you're creating a life story, you should probably stick to its original chronological order. This is the folder where you can gather more files from other folders in other flash or cloud drives.

3. Use editing software or apps

You can download a lot of video editing software free of charge. In fact, if you have a Windows laptop or desktop, chances are you already have a program pre-installed for video editing. If you'd rather use your smartphone to edit the video files, there are numerous free apps in the Apple Store and Google Play.

However, keep in mind that some of the free video editing apps have in-app purchases. For example, you can download an app for free, but you may have to pay for a "premium" version to take the app's logo watermark off the videos you make.

4. Trim and transition

Now that you've uploaded all of the video files into your editing program, it's time for the fun (and hard work) to begin. You can use the trim tool or function to cut out parts of the video clips that you don't want to include, and these are usually found in the beginning. For instance, a video clip might contain someone singing in front of the camera, but the beginning parts are filled with chatter and background noise from the audience. You can trim this beginning part so that the video clip will start at the point when the main subject begins.

After trimming each video clip as you need to, you can apply transition effects in between scenes or clips. This will make your movie seem smoother, the way a dreamy memory looks in your mind. One favorite effect is cross-fade, and depending on the look and feel of the film, some also use fade-out to black at the end of each scene.

5. Add music and sync

You can add music files to create a soundtrack for your movie. However, be sure to either mute the audio of the video files or minimize the volume if you want to include the original audio of the video clips. Next, sync the music to your video reel: there will be separate layers on top of each other in your video editor, with the music usually appearing as the bottom track. Make sure the music track starts when the video track begins. You can even add a fade-in and fade-out effect to the start and end of your video track if you like.

6. Add graphics and effects

You can add text to your movie, such as a title card at the beginning of the movie and a credit roll at the end, just like a professional film! You can also add text within the scenes that will overlay on top of the visuals. This is a good technique to use when you want to label the location or date of each scene. Some video editing programs have free graphics and special effects available for you to use.

7. Save your files

Make sure to save not only the finished movie itself (usually termed an "export") but also the project file itself. That way, if you want to revise or re-edit the movie, you won't have to start from scratch.

When you save your movie, make two versions, the first one exported in high definition that you can watch on a TV screen or through a projector. Then, export a smaller sized video file for viewing on smartphones and tablets. The second version is important. Read the next step to find out why.

8. Upload and share

The reason why you want a small-sized file of your movie is because the larger, high-definition version might be difficult to upload online. Many social media sites, blogs, and websites (except YouTube) place size limitations on video uploads. If you're planning to upload on your YouTube channel, then you can use the high-definition version.

Whichever you choose, what's important is that you share your life story — either with the world or simply with close friends and loved ones. You can also upload the video on a website dedicated to storing and sharing memories, like Timeline