Make a unique graduation gift for your child or grandchild by creating a slideshow of photos. Add some great music and you will have not only a wonderful gift but also a perfect highlight of your graduation party. You can do this yourself or ask a more technologically savvy friend or relative, or even hire someone to put this together.
- 50 to 150 photos (you can include short video clips too).
- Music (see my list of suggestions and links to Amazon where you can buy them).
- Quotes: a favorite quote or motto, a family joke, or a school slogan.
- Wish: a short statement or wish from you for the graduate. You might want to videotape friends and family to let them give the graduate their thoughts, advice, and congratulations.
- Windows Moviemaker, iMovie or another Slideshow/video program or app: a program should be installed already on your PC, Mac or phone.
- “My Wish” by Holly Tucker. Very upbeat and inspirational song which talks about the wishes for the future. See video above for Tucker’s performance of the song on “The Voice.”
- “Do Life Big” by Jamie Grace. An upbeat song with a great message for the future to “Do Life Big.” This song is really encouraging and great for a faster part of the slideshow with photos of the crazy and fun part of high school.
- “Graduation (Friends Forever)” by Vitamin C: Song lyrics and music are bittersweet. Song remembers good and bad times in school and imagines what the future will hold. Chorus “Come Whatever we will still be Friends Forever.” Lyrics are at Graduation (Friends Forever)
- “I Believe I Can Fly” by R Perry: a Slow song which captures the mood of looking toward the future in the chorus “I believe I can fly.” You might just want to use the chorus, which could be a good ending to a slideshow. See the song and lyrics on Youtube.
- “Whenever You Remember Times Gone By” by Carrie Underwood. Terrific song for graduation videos by this country singer, with the reminder that, “whenever you remember I’ll be there” and that we “reached the dream together.”
- “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” by Randy Newman. A reminder from childhood, this song from Toy Story is great for shots of graduates and friends. I love this version by a dad and his 4 year old daughter.
- “These are The Special Times” by Celine Dion. Soft and sentimental reminder of the past times. This might be especially good for the opening of the video. Lyrics here.
- “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus. Upbeat lyrics and music for remembering that there is always more ahead.
- Put the pictures and videos in a folder on your computer or tablet. You probably will want them to appear by date, so set the “View” to “by date taken.” If you want to move them around in the slideshow later, you can (if for instance, you want a graduation picture first).
- Rotate any pictures that need it (don’t worry too much about mistakes, I forgot to rotate one picture in my slideshow, but that’s O.K. because it gave everyone a laugh!)
- Organize your videos and photos. Move around the pictures and videos so that they are in the order you want. You might want to “rename” them with a number to keep track of the order you want.
- Open Windows Movie Maker or iMovie and start a new project. I used Windows Movie Maker so the following example will give instructions from that program. See the video on using iMovie if you are using that program.
- Import your pictures and videos into the project.
- Add Music (you will be asked if you want to put your music in now, but you can say no if you aren’t ready and do it after you have finished the slides by clicking the “Add Music” icon on the home page).
- Pick out the “Auto Movie” theme you want to use. This will set up transitions and motions between slides and also let you put in a title and credits at the end (I used “Pan and Zoom” because I like the way it makes the pictures seem to move and highlights the photos).
- Add the Quotes you want to include (such as a quote, motto, joke, message or explanation of a photo) by clicking on the picture and “caption” which lets you print text. You can also add a slide of just words by clicking on a slide and then “add Title” before that slide. You can change the color of the slide, as well as the font by going to “Video Tools” and using the font and “background color” tools.
- Add your title and credits information. This is your chance to add some humor, or to add something personal.
Windows Movie Maker automatically sets each slide to go for 7 seconds, but that can make the slideshow seem too slow, and if you have a lot of pictures, it can make it too long. I generally set the slides for about 3 seconds. Making several graduation slideshows this year, I realized that this was an important step because, in several cases, we wanted the slide to show a certain length.
- To adjust the duration of each slide, go to “Video Tools” and set the “Duration” button to the number of seconds you want.
- The button lets you set 1-30 seconds automatically, but you can also manually set 3.5 seconds.
- To set all the slides the same, highlight them all and then set the duration. At the bottom of the slideshow, you will see how long the whole show will be with the slides set to that amount of time.
- If you want some slides longer or shorter, then click on them and adjust them individually (I did this for text slides that I knew would take longer to read).
Save Project: You will want to “Save Project” your regularly as you work on it. “Saving” means that your pictures, videos, captions, and music will all be saved in that order for you to work on later. When you play these in Moviemaker, the program accesses them in the folder they reside in on your computer. You can view what you’ve done in Windows Moviemaker on that computer in a small or full screen. However, you need to be careful not to move any of the videos or pictures from whatever folder you imported them in because then Moviemaker can’t find them (that is why it is often a good idea to copy whatever you are going to use into a new folder just for your video production).
Save Movie: When you are done with your movie, you can save it for watching or sending. When you “Save Movie,” all of the files are transformed into a Windows Movie Maker video, which makes the file a lot smaller as well as making it so that you don’t have to worry about whether you’ve moved the original pictures or video around on your desktop. Here are the different formats you can save your movie into:
- high definition (on a big screen)
- phone (several types)
Publish: Another way to share your movie is to “Publish” it to one of the popular sharing sites. Movie Maker has buttons that lead you through this process for:
Adjust or Add Music. I usually wait to add the music until the slide show is done because that lets me add the music where I want to put it in the slide show and also lets me adjust the speed of the show.
Watch Your Movie. Before you publish your movie and make it one you can view on a computer, through email or on a T.V., you should probably preview it all the way through. I didn’t do that on mine, and that is why I have one picture in sideways! If you skip this step like I did, you may regret it, or you may just get some extra laughs!