The Adventure Starts Here: How to Make Family Vacation Videos

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

How to Make Family Vacation Videos

I really enjoy making family vacation videos.  While I am a huge fan of photos (and take way too many), I especially love making and watching videos from our adventures.  My love of making (and watching) these videos is kind of funny since I opted against having a videographer at our wedding because I didn't think we'd ever go back watch it... what did I know!?!  I started making vacation videos back in 2011 after my younger brother made an amazing video of his trip to Iceland (more of his videos here).  I asked him what program he used and the rest is history.  Here's my most recent video... of our family beach vacation in Rhode Island.  

Along the way, I've taught myself, asked some questions, and come up with a few tips that might be helpful if you are looking to make your own family vacation videos. 

1. Take videos of everything.  Start from the very beginning of your trip and record short clips of every part of you trip.  You'd rather have too much footage and decide not to use it in your final product than feel like you don't have to enough to truly represent your vacation.  I figure, if I take a photo of it, I also take a 2-3 second video of it.  This works especially well for including the stationary details, like food!  

2.  Use multiple devices.  Since you will want to record a lot, my suggestion is to have multiple devices handy.  I personally use my iPhone, my Nikon AW130 for underwater video, and ask family members to use their iPhones too.  I know many people use their DSLR for video, but I personally have not spent the time to feel 100% comfortable with it just yet.   A GoPro would be great to use as well! 

3.  Get in front of the camera sometimes.  I know from experience that it's easy to become the documenter and not be in any photos or videos.  We now make a conscious effort to take turns with who is in front and behind the camera.  This past trip, my mom was a huge help and took videos with my phone while I took photos with my DSLR.  When I wasn't taking photos, I would take some quick videos (so she could be in them as well) and even handed it to Chris at times.  

^^^ my mom on video, me on camera :)

4.  Take video first.  If you don't have multiple people available, so that you can shoot video and photos at the same time, I suggest shooting video first.  If you want your videos to show true emotion, you will want to video your kids' reactions first off and then take your photos. It's much easier to stage a photo than a video.  For example, in this video, I recorded Noah and his cousin Aidan, having fun with the beach chairs.  I recorded them putting the chairs up and down a few times, smiling and laughing at each other and even sticking their tongues out.  After I captured the moment on video, I switched to taking photos.  I don't think I would have gotten the same excitement out of them if I waited til the end to take the video.  

^^^ we handed the phone off to Chris and he took photos and video of us playing catch

5.  Don't worry about random conversations or background noise.  I don't know about you, but people tend to get shy and stop talking when they know you are recording them because they are worried about sounding silly.  This can make for a very awkward video.  This was actually one of the main reasons I didn't want a videographer.  Too many times I was caught on camera having an awkward conversation when getting ready as a bridesmaid ;)  Recording on a phone helps with this because people aren't sure if you are taking a photo or a video.  I've also put my family at ease by saying that unless someone is saying something really cute or something related to the vacation, all their talking will be covered by a song.  And on this particular trip, the wind at the beach was pretty loud.  I was so relieved to be able to cover that all up!    

Now that you have all your footage, how do you actually make the video???  These next steps are how I personally make my videos, but there are probably many other ways you can do it.  I have a Mac and use iMovie, so if you only use a PC, this won't be of much help.  And for any iMovie users out there, if you have any tips for me, I'd love to hear them... I'm always learning!    

1.  Upload all your photos onto your computer in Photos.  When I get home from a trip, I upload all my videos (from all my devices) into Photos.  I then open up iMovie and all my videos are right there.  You may have to search in the "My Media" section depending on how your organize things in Photos (albums, collections, moments, etc).  

2.  Create a new project and start dragging your video clips down.   My personal method is to pull down the clips in their entirety and then edit them in the "zoomed in" view.  For vacation videos, I prefer the end result to be 1-2 songs long, so I make sure to clip my videos down so that everything fits.  This usually takes going through it many, many times... this is the most time consuming part.  And while you may think you need longer video clips, you can often use just a few seconds of each activity to get your point across. 

^^^ you can find all your videos in the Media section above.  Then just drag them down to the bottom section to start making your video.  

3.  Add music.  While I would love to give you some amazing advice on how to pick your songs, I really don't have a quick fix.  Throughout the year, as I hear songs on the radio or on TV and movies, I will make a note of the song so I have a running list when it comes time to make videos.  My videos are all very family oriented, so the vibe of my songs are all very similar.  

As for the technical side, you can access all your iTunes music in iMovie.  You can just type the name of the song or artist you are looking for in your library and then drag your song down into your project on the bottom.  

Depending how you want your final video to be, you can either lower the audio of your videos and just have the song playing, or you can lower the volume of the song so that you can hear the sound from your video.  If you don't alter either, you will have competing audio.  You can change these settings on every clip you add to your project, or select all and change the settings once.  Once your music is added, you will probably want to go back and edit your clips some more so that your video is the correct length.  Also, some of your clips might work better with a certain part of a song, so you can fool around with that now too.  

^^^ to adjust the audio of each clip, click on the speaker icon (in blue).  To have the video's audio lowered, lower the circle so it says 0% (like I have above).  If you want the song's audio lowered so you can hear the video's sound, select "lower volume of other clips".  

The next thing I want to learn how to do, is to add a song where it's just the music and not the lyrics.  There are a few songs I would love to use in future videos, but parts of the song's lyrics just don't work with the theme of my videos.  So if you know how to do this, please let me know!

4.  Add transitions and text.  To make the transition from each clip look a little smoother, it's nice to add a transition.  There are a lot of options, but I always use Cross Dissolve... but that's just a personal preference.  

I also like the add Titles to the beginning and end of my videos.  I will occasionally add a title in the middle of my videos (like I did this time) if we are going to multiple destinations on a vacation.  

5.  Save and share your video.  Once you are totally happy with your finished product, it's time to save and share it.  First, I save it as a "file" so that I can back it up on my hard drive and dropbox as well as add it to YouTube.  Since these video files are pretty large, I find it's best to load to YouTube (I save them as unlisted) and then send the link to family and friends.  This is also how I share my videos on the blog.  Back in the day when I had a DVD drive in my laptop, I would burn a copy to a DVD for anyone that wanted it, but that's a little old school these days.  I also save a copy to my iTunes so that I can easily watch it on any of my Apple devices, like my iPhone and my Apple TV.  When I make Noah's annual birthday video, we play it for our families on our big TV using Airplay from my iPhone to Apple TV.  

Wanna pin it?

And in case you are interested, here are some more of my past family vacation videos...

And some super long birthday videos!
So tell me, do you take videos on your family vacations, or do you just stick to the photos?

*affiliate links used


  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE. With each new post, I'm dying to get to the beach next month!

  2. This is amazing. Definitely keeping this post for future reference!

  3. Meghan, you are amazing!! I hardly ever take videos but your one second video a day compiled at the end of the year video is always coming to mind. Ill have to start playing around with that more!

  4. This is great Meghan. I take SO many photos but really suck at taking video. A Go Pro is definitely on my wish list too.

  5. How fun! Thanks for the shoutout to my videos too ��

  6. I couldn’t love this anymore, friend! So great. The clips of the boys in the chairs and you with your camera are my favorites! You are adorable. You’ve inspired me to get busy with the 100s of videos I have on my external (since we got our GoPro a few months ago). Great tip about taking video before photos! I am such a photo-gotta-haver that I usually always take photos first. But that makes a lot sense. And…just another reason I need a Mac.

  7. What is it about videos set to music that make me a little misty eyed? Such a mom! I made one of these for fathers day for Jeff like two years ago and stopped. I need to start up again. You've inspired me with that few seconds of the boys lowering their chairs to recline. That was precious!


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