How to Make Homemade Movie Collages Using iMovie


Over the past year or so, I’ve started taking more videos. I will always love taking pictures, but videos are really fun because they capture things in a different way than a still photo. I’ve put together videos of our last few family trips to the Bahamas, Virginia, and Chicago, and I’ve made some videos of R as she’s grown over the past 12 months. 

Lately I have received some questions about what equipment I use to put together the videos, so I want to briefly explain my process to you! I am purely self-taught, and there are a lot of things I don’t know about making videos, but hopefully this is helpful to you and maybe inspires you to start making videos of your own!

Taking Videos: Equipment
You can absolutely use the video function on your smart phone, and I do for a lot of my videos. This would be the easiest route if you didn’t want to buy new equipment. If possible, I prefer taking videos with my DSLR (I have a Canon Rebel t2ii), because it’s a higher quality, and I can use manual focus to get artsy about it if I want.

Most recently, Jordan and I decided to invest in a handheld camcorder. We used our Discover card points and bought it as a joint birthday gift. (Note: this is not a sponsored post! Panasonic has no idea who I am.) I used it for the first time in Chicago and thought it was great. It’s not as high quality as my DSLR, but it’s higher quality than my iPhone. We hope to be able to use it to take more home videos of R and future babies throughout the years.

Taking Videos: Tips for Getting the Best Shot
I’ve found that it’s best to try not to move around too much when you are taking videos. If you do scan or pan the scene, do so slowly. Especially for travel collages, when you are only using 2-3 seconds at a time, if those 2-3 seconds are constantly panning, you will make yourself nauseous trying to watch it later. You might feel dumb pointing a video camera at a scene and not moving or panning at all, but you will like it for later when you put your clips together. (At first when I did this Jordan thought I was a nutter, but after watching my videos later he understands the method to my madness.)

Just like it is for pictures, try using different perspectives. For my Chicago video, I took shots pointing up at the sky showing a tall building, I took shots pointing down at R in the stroller. I turned the camera around and took a shot of myself (a video selfie, if you will), I zoomed in close on R crawling on the bed, I zoomed out and showed a full shot of the bean, I bent down and showed just people’s feet in the water of Lake Michigan… you get the idea. This gives a full view of the scene from different angles and keeps it interesting.

Making a Video Collage Using iMovie
I have a Mac laptop at home, and I use iMovie to make my videos. Unfortunately, I can only talk about iMovie because that’s what I have experience with. If you have a Mac and don’t have iMovie, you can buy it as an app for $14.99 and it downloads to your computer. In my opinion it is definitely worth the money! I have found it to be very intuitive, and it’s easy to add music straight from your iTunes library to your video. I’m not sure if you can buy the iMovie app even if you don’t have a Mac, but maybe you can! I believe there is also a version of iMovie for your phone or tablet.

Below is a very brief overview of my process for making my video collages:

Before you do anything else, upload your video clips to your photos by connecting your device to your computer. Then, open iMovie. Any clips that are in your photos should be visible by clicking "photos library."

A second option is to upload video clips directly into iMovie, but I personally think it’s easier to get them from Photos. If the photos don’t load, quit Photos and quit iMovie. When you open it back up, they should be there.

Start a new movie project in iMovie. Now is the fun part! Once you have located your video clips from Photos, simply drag and drop pieces into the movie project. You can easily choose which sections of the clip to include, and it even tells you how many seconds it is. Typically for travel videos I use 2-4 seconds of a clip at a time. This seems to be the optimal length for viewing. Any shorter and it feels choppy; any longer and I start getting bored. Of course, if there is a specific thing that is happening, feel free to use a longer clip or shorter as you want to!

I wait until I have all my clips mostly in place before I start adding text, transitions, music, or messing with any of the other settings. Adding text is easy. Just click on "titles" at the top and drag and drop your chosen text onto the part of the video where you want it. You can change the font and font size based on what you like. 
Transitions are things like fade to black and stuff like that. Again, just click the one you want and drag/drop on the part of the movie where you want it. Easy! You can get crazy with transitions, but I guess I’m a minimalist because I prefer to only use them at the beginning/end of the video.

For audio, it’s easiest to choose a song you have in your iTunes folder. If you are using iMovie, all the songs you have in iTunes are available to drag/drop right onto your movie. If you use a song that is under copyright protection, YouTube will automatically add ads to your video that the copyright holder will monetize. For example, I used a Keith Urban song for my Chicago video, and so there are ads on that video, and I don’t get any money from those. 
However, for my Virginia video and my video of R 0-9 months, I used a copyright-free song that I downloaded (for free) from this YouTube library. You can go there to search those songs. If you use one of these, no ads will appear on your video. It downloaded to my iTunes, and I was able to open it in iMovie and add it to my video.

One trick I like when using music is to “fade in” and “fade out” the song at the beginning and end of the video. It’s easiest to click on this tiny arrow (see below) and drag it out as far as you want the fade to go.
When you are all done with music and text and all your clips are in order, click "File > Share." You can then save it to an external hard drive or upload to YouTube or share on Facebook or wherever you want to! I usually save it first as a "File" and then you can share to YouTube, etc.
So that’s basically it! That was a super quick overview, but hopefully it was helpful to you. Again, I am not an expert, but I have had a lot of fun making videos over the past year, and I hope to continue to make more of them!

Please leave any questions in the comments and I will answer them so others can see.
Happy movie making!
17 Perth said...

This is super helpful!!

The Lady Okie said...

Oh good! I hope it is :)

Emily said...

Love all the screenshots to help with this!!! I made a video in May---can I rewind and you do this post in May to help ;)

Michelle said...

This was so helpful! One of these days I'll get brave and try it.

Allison said...

I've wondered what you used to make your cute videos! I agree, there's just something a video can capture that a photo can't. Thanks for sharing!

The Lady Okie said...

Sure thing!

The Lady Okie said...

Do it! They are fun :)

The Lady Okie said...

Ha! Sorry... that just means you need to make another one :)

Kayla MKOY said...

I started using iMovie about a year ago to just mess around with it and have LOVED it. I made a "mini movie" (or whatever you want to call it) of my quick weekend to Nashville with my girls. I've made both a Thanksgiving and Christmas video that was spent with family, and my next project is the week we just spent at Christ in Youth camp with our students! I'm so excited. I never grew up having a ton of home videos so I'm trying to change that now!

Caroline @ In Due Time said...

This is so helpful! Thank you. We have the same camera, but honestly never use it anymore. We just use our iphone ;)

I am so grateful for this tutorial!

Maria said...

Thank you! Thank you! I did some phone videos on our latest vacation and was wondering what in the world to do with them. I cannot wait to play around with them tonight on iMovie.

On a kind of unrelated note, I feel like I'm using my camera for photos/video MUCH more than my real camera. It makes me sad. I want videos, phone pics to share, and fancy pics from my DSL. Oh the problems we have these days...

Kristen @ See You In A Porridge said...

this is great! and the method to your madness with the not panning makes total sense. we don't have an apple computer anymore, womp womp, so i will see about finding the windows equivalent to this!

Rach said...

Yay! I love making videos and it's fun hearing how other people do it as well! I don't have a Mac, but a friend of mine does and I've seen her using iMovie. It definitely has lots of great options! :)