Tributes & Video Biographies
Sharing Life Stories, Connecting Generations, Preserving Legacies

Post-Production and Editing Tips for Making Better Family Videos

Flickr photo:mobilechina2007

Part 5 – Final installment in a series about capturing the joy of family events on video

Last week we covered the third of four phases used in creating multimedia productions to capture the joy of family events – production and filming. This week, I finish the series by talking about phase four – post-production / editing.

When editing a multimedia presentation, especially in story form, first clearly establish the setting (time/place) and theme of the occasion in the opening. Then edit the footage to tell a story if possible with a beginning, middle and end.

Speaking of video editing, choosing the right software is important. But it is a fairly complicated topic that we don’t have room to properly cover in this article. However, there are informative reviews and comparisons of Windows-based home-video editing programs on numerous reliable websites like and There is also a very good, free program for non-professional Mac users called iMovie. If you don’t already have this covered, I recommend spending some time researching the best solution for your budget and needs.

If you want to employ a voice-over narration, here’s the top tip of the day. Record it first, then edit your video scenes to the audio track. That’s how the pros edit documentaries, TV commercials and films – simply because it works.

Otherwise, the biggest concern with voice-overs is casting the right talent and for that, I recommend (in most cases) not using the writer or others who are close to the subject. However, as head writer you can serve as director of audio production for making sure that timings are good, the delivery sounds natural and the full script has been recorded. You may also want to direct the narrator to try some impromptu readings with additional pauses for effect, alternate phrasing and different inflections. This will give you even more choices when cutting the finished track together.

Of course, before you begin editing any video, you should go through a formal scene selection process to note timings and best takes. Number each scene to match your script outline or storyboard and make some notes. Also think ahead about how individual scenes will look when edited together in the final sequence and ask yourself, which ones really advance the story in the most cohesive way and which are the most entertaining?

Music selection is another important aspect of the post-production process and finding just the right track or tracks can turn an otherwise dull video segment into something that moves and inspires people. Sound effects can also add extra dimensions to the audio. But they are purely optional in most home-video productions and can sometimes take away from a great musical background or voice-over narration. So use them sparingly and only if they add rather than detract from the overall scene.

Lastly, spend some time thinking about scene transitions, special visual effects and titles that are both informative and interesting as well as creative and fun. Quotes are always good, but you can convey almost anything in a title or super and choosing just the right font style or animated effect can really put the finishing touches on an already good show.

One other consideration worth mentioning is what we in the business call packaging and distribution. While those things are far less important and simpler for personal videos, they can still be used to add yet another degree of specialness when sharing copies with the subject’s, family and friends. So you might also want to consider doing your own custom “packaging” for CDs, DVDs or photo albums that maintain the same theme. Doing something as simple as cropping a great still image of the family gathered around a wedding or birthday cake, adding a well-designed title and printing it out on nice paper to slip into a jewel case – and you have a memorable, one-of-a-kind “album cover”.

Now that you have a more complete understanding of the process and some ideas for putting together a great multimedia production, you can capture the joy of special occasions in a way that is truly impressive, entertaining and memorable. So go to it, get creative and most of all, don’t forget to have fun!

Stefani Twyford is a personal historian sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

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