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How to Make a Photo Montage

Updated on December 6, 2007

Set Your Life to Music

It's been said a picture is worth a thousand words, and music can take you back.  Put these two items together and you have what is often referred to as a photo/video montage.

A photo - video montage is a great way to share memories with friends and family.  Over the last decade it has become almost a standard at weddings, birthday & retirement parties and memorial services. 

Being in the video production business I have had an opportunity to see photo - video montages of all types and quality.  

In fact over the years I have made numerous photo - video montages myself and I would like to share with you what I have learned.

Use these tips and on the day of your big event there won't be a dry eye in the place.

Organizing Your Photo Montage

Before you get started on your photo - video montage you will want to get organized. I usually start by making a pile of pictures I want to include in my montage. If I have digital pictures to include I will print copies (you can print small and black and white for this phase).

Once you have the pictures you want you will want to take some time sorting them in a chronological order or based on some theme. Family, Friends, Vacations, Special Events can be some categories.

Now comes the hard part. Pairing down your selection. I have found over the years that 6-10 minutes a good length for a photo - video montage. I generally plan for 10 pictures a minute or a picture every 6 seconds. At 6-10 Minutes 60 to 100 pictures will be plenty.

Once I have my quantity of pictures I can choose my music generally 2-3 songs will be plenty.

Freeze Frame, What Do You Need!

Pictures of Course!

Of course you need pictures but you are going to need a few other items to get your montage from scrapbook to the big screen.

Here is a list of items you might need to get your montage started.

Media

-Pictures (Paper and or Digital)

-Music Files

-Memory Stick

-Blank DVD or CD's

Hardware/Software

-Digital Camera/Video Camera

-Scanner

-Computer/Laptop

-DVD Burner

-Internet Access

-Montage Software

Display Equipment

-DVD Player/Cd Player

-LCD/Video Projector

-Screen

-TV

-Speaker or Sound System

Not all items are needed depending on the route you choose to display your video montage.

I will go into more detail about these items so don't be intimidated.

Preparing your Digital Pictures

Lets assume you will be using a digital or computer based solution. You will need to scan your paper pictures and import your digital pictures.

Tip:

I recommend scanning pictures at 150 DPI (dots per inch)and generally in the jpeg format. Your program will dictate but generally a jpeg is most compatible.

I also like to name my pictures in the order I will use them in the video.

Example 01.jpg, 02.jpg and so on.

Notice I used a 0 before single digit numbers, if you just title your pictures, "1.jpg" then after .1jpg it will sort 10.jpg after 1.jpg.

Your next step will be cropping pictures. The closer you can get to somebodies face the more interesting the picture. Many of the video editing or picture montage programs have some cropping features. If not you may need to use a program like PhotoShop or Paint.

Selecting Music

Its now time to select your music. There are numerous ways you can sync your slide show to music. One of the least technical is creating a slide show that will start at the same time as a CD audio track. This is a simple low tech option for those who do not want to take the time to learn a montage program.

Other programs will allow you to import digital audio files. MP3 files are the most readily compatible audio format.

Some of the more advance programs like Adobe Premiere will actually allow you to trim and mix your audio tracks. For new to intermediate I recommend using full songs.

ProShow Gold the program I recommend has the most features and the easiest interface to learn.

ProShow Gold has a feature which will allow you to automatically sync your picture to the music at a click of the mouse.

I recommend you do some customization.

Selecting a Photo - Video Montage Program

Entry Level Option

Windows Slide Show

Use Slide Show Program included with Windows. Open a picture file, on the left of the window there will be an Option title Picture Task. Select the "View as Slide Show Option." Play CD along with Picture Show.

Intermediate Options

PowerPoint

PowerPoint has numerous slide transitions features that will allow you to time your picture transitions with custom movement and fades. It will also allow you to add some text titles. Newer versions of PowerPoint have features that rival many advance video editing options with custom movement. You can also sync your audio tracks, however, not a very consistent option.

ProShow Gold

ProShow Gold is an intermediate program with profesional results. You have complete control of your transitions and picture movement. The ProShow Gold interface actually allows you to make some minor edits to your picture right in the program, with rotation, color correction and cropping.

ProShow Gold also has a nice automatic feature which will add auto transitions and timing to your montage at a click of a mouse.

Advanced/Professional

Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro

If you are a video aficionado one of these programs is a good choice. With these programs you will have complete control of your slide show, with complete suite of transitions and editing features.

Media Format

Its now time to plan how you are going to present your photo - video montage.

I recommend you use a LCD projector and laptop to present but often times a DVD player and TV are the simplest and most available option.

You will want to choose based on your audience size or presentation format. A TV will work fine for a montage being presented to a crowd of 20 or less or as a display for people to stop and watch throughout your event.

For large groups I recommend a video screen of at least 6' wide.

For the basic option you will need a computer to present and this may limit your options to an LCD projector or the local monitor on your laptop.

The intermediate options will allow for you to produce a DVD or Video CD which are generally compatible with a computer or DVD player.

You will want to test any of these options in advance with the final media and display equipment to ensure compatibility. This is the time to find out your media is not compatible with the DVD player. Once you get to your event it will be a major disappointment to not be able to display your creation.

Bring, Rent, Buy or Borrow

Plan early. Video projection equipment can be expensive to purchase or rent. LCD projectors in many hotels cost $200-1000 per day to rent. You will also want to explore there policies for bringing your own equipment.

Occasionally a facility will have a union contract and require you to hire a union technician to operate your AV equipment.

Your best option is if you work for a corporation is to request to borrow a company projector if they allow. Use this as an opportunity to learn how to use the equipment.

In todays business world having presentation technology experience is a must. Feel free to use this pitch when you ask to borrow from the office.

Another option is renting directly from an AV company or your photographer. Generally AV companies are cheaper if you call them direct versus ordering through the hotel or venue.

Most importantly plan ahead, unexpected expenses can be difficult when planning a party.

Photo Montage Programs on Amazon

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