My son just turned one a few weeks ago, and we are finishing up work on a movie assembled from photos and video taken during his first year. We put together a similar one for my daughter after her first year, and we liked having it so much that we make one of these video scrapbooks each year. It’s a way of taking the hundreds of photos and videos of little moments that we capture over the course of the year and distilling them down to some of the most cherished moments that we’ll want to look back on in future years.
The past versions of these movies were burned on DVDs and sent out to a handful of family members, but as technology has evolved, I have found the physical disks to be cumbersome. Periodically my daughter asks to see them, and I have to rumage through the cases of DVDs to find the one I want. There are also more far flung family members who may have a passing interest in seeing the video, but the hastle of burning and mailing the DVD means that they will never see it.
We now live in world of online video, so posting these movies is the natural way to share with a broader audience and more easily access them in the future. We usually use Google’s Picasa web for sharing photos and short video clips, but it doesn’t make good long term storage for these movies. Picasa limits the amount of storage available, and they do not let you embed individual movie clips into other websites or let the person on the other end download them if they so choose.
Most people turn to YouTube for this kind of video sharing. There is no fee for storage, sharing the videos is easy, and you can embed them in other websites. However, you can’t upload a video longer than 15 minutes. This is an improvement from their previous limit of 10 minutes, but it still falls short of the length of videos I am trying to upload, which run around 20 minutes or so. Sure, you could break them up, but this makes for a lousy viewing experience. Users are also constantly baraged with links to other videos.
I found another website that better meets my needs: Vimeo. I’ve come across Vimeo clips on several other sites on the web, and after a little investigation I saw that it was a good fit. There is no limit to the length of the movie you can upload, and there is no limit on the storage. What they do limit is the amount you can upload for free on a weekly basis (500 MB). My 20 minute videos clock in at a little under 300 MB, so this is adequate for what I want to do, and a $10 a month ($60 a year) ups the weekly limit to 5 GB and allows for uploading HD.
Vimeo targets more towards a professional crowd than the YouTube, which seems more focused on getting a viral hit. It gives much more control about how you distribute the content, and it doesn’t automatically push more videos at the user.
Creating an account took just a few minutes, and I was immediately able to upload the video of my daughter’s first year. WIthin a half hour after that, it wa processed by Vimeo’s servers and ready for viewing and embedding:
That original video was done on a PC using a product from Wondershare called DVD Slideshow Builder. It was my first attempt to build a video like this, and the tool was a little crude. It was missing many key features like audio ducking (dropping the background music level so you could hear voices in a video clip) and had limited photo options.
When we upgraded to a Mac, I was ushred into the world of iMovie and its far more sophisticated editing studio, configuration options, and Ken Burns effects (the gradual pan/zoom effect on photos, which gives the stills some movement). Our follow up video which covers the period from after my daughter’s first birthday up to the birth of my son was much more polished. I promptly shelled out the $10 for a month of Vimeo Plus so that I didn’t have to wait until next week to upload it:
My son’s first year video is almost done, and we are also going to create a second video this year that chronicles the adventures of the rest of the Rothman-Shores. Both my wife and I are younger children, and we didn’t want our son to get short changed by not having his own video. In future years we will go back to one video per year, at least until our kids no longer have the patience to let us photograph them anymore.
I don’t expect them to be of much interest to anyone outside of family, and I will still burn DVDs for the closest family members who don’t watch much web video. But I like the fact that I can now access the movies from any computer anywhere, without the clutter and 15 minute chunking of YouTube.