Think of all of the growth that happens during a baby’s first twelve months. From the beginning of year one to the end, they grow from tiny helpless newborns that can barely open their eyes to toddlers that may be taking their first steps, tripling their birth weight, and even saying their first words! That’s incredible! A baby’s first year is the perfect thing to document for a few reasons:
- If we’re not careful, it’s a precious year that fades away quickly and is easy to forget.
- It’s something that is worth the effort and will pay off for decades to come. Kids are obsessed with seeing themselves as babies.
- As long as you make the time and put in the effort, it is easy to see the massive growth during this period of time.
- It’s a relatively short amount of time to cover, so it can be made more quickly than say, writing a personal history can.
There are several ways you can document a baby’s first year. My favorite way to showcase this special time is by making a video montage. In fact it is one of my favorite services I do for clients. (Sidenote: A close second favorite of mine is a baby book. If you are interested in learning more about what services we offer related to baby books, click here.)
Think of a video montage like a highlight reel that includes things like music, pictures and video. With how many pictures and videos we as parents take of our kids during the first year, a highlight video is the perfect way to include all of these different types of media in one place.
I am currently wrapping up a video montage of a client’s adorable baby’s first twelve months. Seriously you guys, this baby is so cute! With the client’s permission, I wanted to share some tips and tricks I thought of while working on this project as well as other baby videos I’ve done in the past.
These video montages are intricate and take time and effort to get just right. If you are interested in seeing the level of detail that goes into Savor Your Story’s video services, or if you have some video skills and want to try your hand at making your own, this is the post for you! Over the next two posts, we will dive into four main areas: choosing content, music, video editing, and picture editing. For this post we will focus on the first two.
#1: Picking Your Content
The first important step before you even get into Final Cut Pro, iMovie, or Windows Movie Maker is choosing the right content. This is the most important step to any modern memory-keeping project. Choosing the right pictures and videos allows you to show the progression and growth of your baby which allows you to tell a story. Here are some guidelines I follow when helping clients pick the right content.
A decent sized baby video will include somewhere between 150 to 300 pictures or videos. This seems like a lot, but I promise you it isn’t. You have to be choosy when deciding which pictures and videos to include. It’s tempting to use 15 pictures from the same event, but try not to. Remember, this is supposed to be a snapshot of the whole year, not an all-inclusive baby book. Again, for more info on making one of those kinds of keepsakes, go here. My recommendation is to choose content that has a variety in subjects, locations, events, and ages of your child. You’ll also want a good balance between the number of videos and pictures.
Highlight milestones of growth across all months
Twenty years from now it will be easy to forget little milestones like when your little one first rolled over or struggled through tummy time. The main reason you are making this video is to remember these moments of progress. Make sure to pick the best one or two videos or pictures showing each developmental milestone that is important to you. Some of these may include but are not limited to birth, smiling, tummy time, rolling over, laughing, sitting, eating solid food, and taking first steps.
You will most likely want to make your video montage with the content in chronological order to show progression, but don’t be too strict. Work with the media you’ve got and make it fit the best way you can. For example, most won’t be able to tell the difference between 3 months and 4 months, so don’t worry if things don’t line up perfectly in the correct order.
Include important people
It’s common for selfless parents to want to give me videos and pictures just of their child without them in it. Don’t let this be you! You were a huge part of your baby’s year. They literally would not have made it to this point without you! Sweet interactions between parent and child are lost when all pictures are of only baby. Besides, including a variety of subjects makes your montage video more interesting.
Along these same lines, make sure to include pictures or video of baby with relatives and close friends. Anyone that has played a role in your baby’s life that you want to remember should be included.
Include important places
Include a variety of important locations in the content you choose. This doesn’t mean you had to have taken a huge trip with a newborn in tow to some exotic place. It just means to consider including a variety of places of impact that meant something to your child. Change of scenery, again, makes your overall montage a more interesting thing to watch for your audience. It also helps you tell a more well-rounded story. Places of impact may include the hospital they were born, the play mat they spent months on, the park, the zoo, or grandma’s house.
Include important events
When choosing your content to include in a video montage, it’s important to include a variety of important events. A child’s first holiday is always a fun memory. Make sure to include their first Christmas, Birthday, Fourth of July, or other holidays you celebrate. Other special occasions like weddings, christenings, or vacations that you deem important are also obvious adds. Also make sure to include the little impactful events in between. Things like tickle fights with dad or snuggle time with mom are important recurring moments that deserve to be in your video montage.
Music is an incredibly powerful tool to help evoke emotion. Choosing the right music is the hugely important second step to creating your video montage. Again, note we haven’t even entered our video editing software. Deciding which songs you may want to use helps you decide the approximate end-length of your video and is a good way to visualize the flow of your end product. Here are some tips specifically relating to music.
I often try to choose songs that aren’t too long or too short. If a song is too long the video drags on and ends up boring your viewers. If a song is too short, it’s hard for the viewer to get into a watching rhythm. Pun intended.
That said, you will inevitably run into an instance where the content doesn’t match up perfectly with the length of your desired songs. If this is the case, you still have options. If a song is too short, sometimes you can reuse the intro or another repeated riff in the song multiple times by splitting the audio and copying it in the audio section of the video software. If your song is too long, sometimes it’s possible to cut out a verse or repeated choruses. Again, just split the audio at those various points and match up the beats of the new raw edges of the audio clip. Sometimes a gradual fade in or out of the audio helps this transition seem more natural. If done right these kinds of cuts can go completely undetected by the audience.
Choose songs with the right lyrics and meaning
Many songs out there have a meaning and lyrics that don’t match the overall vibe of the song. Some songs may seem happy even though their meaning is definitely not. Some examples include Semi-Charmed Life by Third Eye Blind and Happier by Marshmello and Bastille. Be aware of this and really listen to the meaning behind the music in the lyrics before you put it in your newborn’s video! I tend to play it safe and stick with songs that have an uplifting message or are about babies for a first year montage.
Choose music with an appropriate tempo
All I mean by this is be aware of how slow or fast the song is. You don’t want it too fast or too slow. You also want a variety of tempo. Having too many slow songs makes the video drag. Too many upbeat songs can drain the viewer. This is especially important if you match the length of each picture or video clip with the beat of the song. This is definitely a lengthy process but makes your videos a cut above. Every video made by Savor Your Story matches the length of clip with the beat of the song. If you aren’t interested in this kind of meticulous work, but want this quality in your own video, contact us in the comments or on our contact us forms to get started working with us.
I usually start my videos with one or two sweet and tender songs for when they are 0-3 months. For this time period, you want something that doesn’t rush and matches the near sacred experience of holding your child for the first time. For months 4-9 I usually put in a more playful set of songs. Something a little more upbeat but not too fast that helps accentuate the large amount of growth happening in these months. There is usually a lot of laughter during this time too which matches well with a faster song. For months 10-12 I’ll either slow it down for a tear-jerking, “stop growing up” kind of ending if the baby isn’t walking yet, or have a more rhythmic exciting song for if they are. No matter what, that last song has to end with a lot of feeling.
This concludes part one of Making a Video Montage of Baby’s First Year. Stay tuned for part two in the next few weeks which will dive into the video and picture editing aspects of making a highlight video for your baby. What do you think so far? I’d love to hear what you loved or hated in the comments section. In the meantime, if you are interested in learning more about Savor Your Story’s video services, start here.