How to Create a Meaningful Memorial Tribute Video

Memorial tribute videos are a beautiful and meaningful way to say goodbye to a friend or family member.

Tribute videos can help you illustrate how a person lived and honor that person’s memory. They’ll also be a great opportunity for people to get to know a different side of a loved one, through the story of the photos you share.

Most importantly, working on a memorial video can be a healing part of the grieving process.

Grieving families might get overwhelmed by this process, though. If you’re not sure what tool to use, how to choose the right photos, how many images to include, or how to add music to the video, creating a tribute video can seem like an insurmountable project at a very tough time.

Creating memorial tribute videos is a service we offer here at Picture This Organized, but we wanted to give a quick explanation, for anyone who would like to create their own video for a friend or loved one. However, if this project is too overwhelming during this time, we would love to help you create a beautiful video to honor your loved one.

How Will Your Video Be Used?

The first thing to consider is how the video is going to be shared. How the tribute is viewed actually determines the style and length of the video, so answering this question can make the entire process easier.

If you’ll be sharing your tribute video during a memorial service, we recommend:

  • Including photos and songs.
  • Limiting the length to 6 to 8 minutes.
  • Using around 80 to 100 photos.

If you plan on sharing the video during the reception after the memorial service, we recommend:

  • Including only photos (no music), and playing the video on a loop in the background at the reception.
  • Making the video 10 to 15 minutes long.
  • Using around 100 to 120 photos.

How to Choose the Photos for Your Tribute Video

When you’re sitting in front of a mountain of photo albums or digital images, you might feel like narrowing down thousands of pictures is impossible. Selecting your photos will be easier if you keep these guidelines in mind.

Consider your loved one’s life, and the themes that honor and represent that person. Each photo selected should reflect one of these themes. Need some examples? Think about photos that:

  • Show the person’s hobbies, passions, and interests.
  • Illustrate your loved one’s personality.
  • Including that person’s childhood. A lot of the people in the room won’t be familiar with these photos, and they’re a wonderful way to spotlight a new side of the person.
  • Showcase relationships with family, friends, or other communities.
  • Highlight special moments and memories, including graduations, holidays, weddings, and births.
  • Include vacations and favorite travel destinations.

When we help a client create a memorial tribute video, we interview the family to make sure we have a full understanding of their loved one, and what that person’s life was about. Then we review the photos the family has selected, to make sure they tell an engaging story and show the full spectrum of that person’s life. If the photos are in print form, we will scan each photo and make a digital copy to be used in the video.

Keep in mind, there will be guests at the service who know your loved one from many different areas of that person’s life, so it’s a good idea to have pictures representing each of the person’s unique communities. The tribute video can be a way for them to get better acquainted with a side of the person’s life that they didn’t know much about.

Choose a Tool to Create Your Video

There are a number of easy-to-use tools you can use to create a slideshow video for your tribute.

If you’re a Mac user, you can use Apple’s iMovie, which allows you to create your own transitions, effects and titles, and add your own audio clips or songs. Check out this article for details on creating your video with iMovie.

You can also use Apple’s Photos program to create your slideshow video. You can drag and drop photos to reorder them, add text to your slides, and choose from some of their pre-made themes. Apple Photos has fewer features than iMovie, but it’s still a great (and simple) way to create a professional-looking video. Here’s a quick tutorial on creating a slideshow video in Apple Photos.

In both iMovie and Photos, you can import photos directly from your photo library, and use songs from iTunes library.

If you’re a PC user, you can use Animoto to create a slideshow video. Animoto is a very user-friendly program that includes animated templates with different backgrounds and effects. You can download different sizes of your finished video, share it to social media, or link to your video in an email or other document.

The cost for a personal Animoto account is $8 a month, but you can sign up for a free trial. With the free trial, however, the Animoto watermark will show at the end of the video.

Unfortunately, adding captions or title slides to Animoto is not as easy as it is with other programs, so be aware that it might take you a little longer to figure that out.

To see what Animoto can do, check out this article to get a tutorial.

How to Start Designing Your Tribute Video

Once you’ve got your images selected and your tool picked out, you’ll need to order your photos and think about the transitions between each image.

Ordering your photos is pretty straightforward: You can show your images in chronological or random order, or grouped by life events.

Typically you want to be able to linger on each photo for one to two seconds, at most, with transitions of less than one second transition between each photo – so we recommend using the settings as the default on your video.

You can customize those transition times, though, for individual photos. For example, if you want to spend more time viewing a particular photo, like a large group or event shot, you can either lengthen the time that the photo shows in the video, or increase the transition time between that photo and the next one in the queue.

Depending on the program you use, you may also be able to choose automatic transitions that change the photos in time with your music.

Choosing the Songs for Your Memorial Tribute Video

Select a couple of songs that represent your loved one, to accompany your video. If you’re stuck for ideas, ask other family members or friends for suggestions.

If you’ll be adding music to your video (to play at the service), your video will be somewhere between 6 and 8 minutes long. The easiest way to avoid having to edit the audio is to select two songs that are each 3 to 4 minutes long.

You can also edit the length of the song(s). We recommend making sure that the first song starts immediately at the beginning of the video, so there isn’t a long gap between the first slide and the start of the first song.

It’s a good idea to fade the sound between the end of the first song and the beginning of the next one so there isn’t an abrupt transition from tune to tune. With most slideshow programs, you can adjust and edit this transition.

After you’ve added your songs and edited your transitions, you can finish your video and get it ready to share with the funeral home, church, or venue where the service or reception will be held.

Sharing and Backing Up the Video

Typically, your memorial venue will need your video delivered on a flash drive or DVD. The funeral home or church will have guidelines for the storage type they prefer, so just ask what they need.

You can also share your video with people who can’t make the service, or with folks who want to see the slideshow again.

Here at Picture This Organized, we like to use Vimeo to upload and share videos. You can share your video publicly, or create a password to allow access only to friends and family members.

You can also upload it to Dropbox or Google, and simply share the link to the file.

With all of these options, people just view the video using a link, rather than having to download a huge file (video files are often pretty big). You can also share the link to the video via social media or email.

As always, we recommend backing up the video to your backup drive, to keep in the family archives.

Creating Your Own Memorial Tribute Video

Memorial tribute videos can be a beautiful, meaningful, and moving way to help people honor and remember their loved ones. They can also be an important part of the grieving process – particularly for the people who create the video! In a time of dealing with difficult emotions and organizing a lot of logistics, Picture This Organized is here to help you. Contact us to schedule a consultation to see how we can assist you in making a video tribute.

19 thoughts on “How to Create a Meaningful Memorial Tribute Video

  1. Would like to add my not too common sense ?, Animoto is $16.00/month when you go month to month. If you by the annual subscription then it equals out to $8.00 a month. I do the month to month often based on my work needs.

  2. Great instructions! If you do decide to do it on your own, check out to find cool script fonts. Use to find free stock footage for backgrounds and try for free music. If you have the budget for it, you should also consider hiring a professional video editor to create your video.

  3. re: Your concern about Animoto limitations. When Microsoft dropped MovieMaker, I found VSDC a viable substitute. Its free version is full-featured (after disabling “hardware acceleration”), works on both PCs and Macs (can’t vouch for Mac) and doesn’t watermark.

    1. Hi Dave:
      It depends upon how many photos you have and how the slideshow is being viewed. If it’s during the memorial service then I suggest just a couple of seconds per photo. If the slideshow will be playing during the reception, then you can go longer. Hope that helps!

  4. I left a voice mail but may have forgotten to leave a callback number 714-932-9779

    You can read my bios and see samples of my work at my website below. I’ve also included a link to a couple of samples of Celebration of Life Videos.
    I would love to brainstorm some ideas with you,

    Dan 714-932-9779 This is a long version that replaced the family having to get up and speak at the ceremony. The audience gets to laugh with tears in their eyes as we take them through an inside look at the beloved. I shoot with high-end cinema gear all the interviews at my home which is very close to your Fullerton location. Obviously this version can be cut down to 5-8 or 8-12 mins as well. Samples of what can be done with pics and iPhone footage in a more traditional non-interview format.

      1. I’m making a retirement video for a Battalion Chief, but I want to include a tribute to a fallen firefighter
        Where in the video should this tribute be placed . I do not want to be disrespectful

        1. How nice of you to be honoring these public servants!

          I think you need to separate these into two videos – a retirement video and a tribute video. This allows each of them to be fully honored.

          All the best to you!

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