Column: Tips for making wedding, memorial slideshows

Q: Is there a simple way to make wedding or funeral videos that I can put on the Internet if I’m not very technical?

A: There’s no shortage of options for making slideshow videos, but you should think about a few things before making a choice.

The general rule is that the simpler the program is, the fewer options you’ll have for customizing the presentation. For instance, some will allow you to place images randomly on the screen, while others have specific containers where each picture will go.

I suggest that you start by determining whether you want music to accompany the slideshow, and, if so, whether you want to choose the music or use whatever comes with the program.

Using someone’s favorite songs is a great way to make the presentation really special, but if you use copyrighted music and plan to upload it to YouTube (or other sites such as Facebook) as a lasting memory, there are caveats.

The copyright owner of the music can mute or block your video, or at the very least monetize it by running ad banners at the bottom.

If you want music that won’t be subject to YouTube’s Content ID system or Facebook’s more restrictive rules, a number of places offer pre-cleared music, such as the Free Music Archive or the list of sites at CreativeCommons.org.

If you’re comfortable with how PowerPoint works, you can certainly create a slideshow and convert it to a video to upload to the internet, but I think there are better options.

Windows users can checkout Microsoft’s free Movie Maker, which strikes a nice balance between ease of use and powerful features. Their ‘AutoMovie’ themes will automatically add titles, credits, transitions and effects to your movie if you’re looking for some extra pizazz.

If you plan on using a large number of photos and/or videos, the amount of RAM your computer has will come into play. For a really large slideshow, you may have to break it up into separate movies, so use a computer with lots of RAM.

Mac users should take a look at iMovie, which also provides pre-configured themes for many common themes and is easy to use.

If those options look too time-consuming or complicated, checkout the options at Smilebox. The program and basic themes are free to use, with premium templates that you can buy if you prefer.

With Smilebox, there are only a couple of design decisions to make to get started: the background, the title color and the duration of each slide. If you want music, you can select one of the options they offer, or use your own music and then choose a transition between each picture or video.

Time is also one of the biggest factors in making a decision, especially if you want to use a large number of images and/or videos.

All of these programs will have a small learning curve, so give yourself plenty of time to get the hang of the program and have others review the video before the event.

Editor’s note: Ken Colburn is founder and CEO of Data Doctors Computer Services.

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