Archive for May, 2012

Graduation PhotoShows


The graduation slideshow has become de rigueur for the late afternoon, hosted by your parents, no you can’t leave yet, party.  While the embarrassment of your student is, admittedly, one of the desired outcomes; you want that embarrassment to come from potty training photos and bad haircuts, not from watching a boring slideshow.  Here are some tips to make yours memorable for the right reasons:

It will take longer than you expected – a lot longer.  It’s not brain surgery, but it does require skill and creativity.  Be prepared to spend some time learning the software you decide to use. Most of the programs you can purchase are similar; Windows Live Movie Maker is a pretty good free program.  If you do not have a working knowledge of computer file types, plan to spend even more time.

Consider hiring someone to make it for you. In addition to taking skill and time to create, it will be emotionally draining.  Trust me, I’ve made these for family members and cried the entire time.  It plain wears you out.  As a bonus, when someone else makes it, you get to be surprised with everyone else.  Sure, you know what photos and songs will be used, but you haven’t seen it put together.

Decide which photos to use before you begin.  Don’t waste your time scanning photos you won’t use. Go through your photos several times and weed out unwanted and similar shots. In general, close-up photos work better than group or distance shots.  Be sure to include “milestones” like the first day of school.

Establish a working plan. Most shows display the photos in chronological order, but I’ve seen them grouped by subject matter too.  It is easiest to scan them in the order of display and give them a meaningful filename.  If you borrowed photos from other people, scan one person’s photos at a time for an easy return.

Use the effects sparingly.  A common rookie mistake is going overboard with the effects and the captions.  We are all happy that you learned a new skill, but too much can distract from your show.

Don’t obsess over the timing or ordering.  It’s alright if you end up with a few photos out of order.  Most people won’t even notice and those who notice won’t care (if they do, they are perfectly awful people and shouldn’t be invited to parties).  Don’t try to match every photo with a lyric; it will just add time and most people won’t notice.  That said, having a few is kinda cool (I was very happy with myself when I matched up “blowing out the candles on another birthday cake” with a photo of the same.  I pointed it out to several people; they were not as excited as I.).

Choose the songs wisely. Go easy with the slow, crooning ballads; overused, overly sentimental songs can drag down a show. Use some up-tempo tunes and be sure to include some new songs.  Here are 10 songs from the last 10 years:  My Wish, Rascal Flatts; September, Daughtry; Raise Your Glass, Pink (it’s Pink, so use the clean version); My Best Days are Ahead of Me, Danny Gokey; Unwritten, Natasha Bedingfield; Times Like These, Foo Fighters; 100 Years, Five for Fighting; We Are Young, Fun; Say Goodbye, Skillet and Time of My Life, David Cook. Whatever music you use, put it in after the photos are arranged.

Edit frequently and keep it short. Your goal is a 10 to 20 minute show; after that people start to get bored.  Most photos need to be displayed for only 4 or 5 seconds (detailed or captioned photos will be longer).   Playback your show repeatedly and delete or change anything that slows it down.

Test it early on the player you will be using at the party. A burned DVD will work in most players, but you still need to test yours beforehand.  It will take longer, but select a slow burn speed to improve player compatibility.

When it’s over, see if the men are holding back tears; if they are, you did well!