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Making a Kid's Party Video Montage

Want to celebrate that special landmark birthday with some cool footage? Here's how to do it yourself – or hire a pro

Got a sweet 16 or graduation party on the horizon? Make your child's day extra-special with a video montage of that little girl growing up. From birthdays to bar or bat mitzvahs and anniversaries, video montages give the opportunity to celebrate someone special – and reminisce. Whether you it yourself or hire a professional, here's how to get it picture-perfect.

Key elements

"If the pictures are nice and visually clear, it helps me make a nice video montage," says Roland Franklin of Roland Franklin Video in Redford. No one wants to see out-of-focus photos on their special day. By using only the best images you can find, the overall presentation will be nicer.

Also, pick images or video clips that can be pieced together to create a storyline. Franklin suggests starting with baby pictures and moving your way up through the years. For a graduation, for instance, incorporate school pictures from each year with senior pictures and other memories.

Enhance your montage adding music. But be careful not to add music that clashes with the photos. If start with your son's baby pictures, select a song from a favorite childhood movie. When you hit the tween and teen years, include one of his top iPod playlist picks. Think of the music selection as a movie soundtrack, where the music matches the mood of the portrayed image.

Once you've selected the photos, properly space them. Franklin suggests displaying each photo for four to five seconds. Display images with captions for seven seconds to give viewers time to read.

And if you want to keep your audience's attention, don't get carried away with time. Eight to twelve minutes is ample time for a video montage!

Do-it-yourself

DIY montages are cost-effective and, with a little patience, you can create a memory to share with guests that will last forever.

Sites like OneTrueMedia.com have step-by-step directions to upload your pictures, videos and music. It's free to join, but a premium upgrade – which includes expanded editing and downloading options – has a fee of $3.99 a month or $39.99 per year.

A bit more enterprising? Try downloading Windows Movie Maker or, if you're a Mac user, download iMovie. Both are free and allow more flexibility – but keep in mind that they're also a little more complicated. If you run into any problems, visit the Microsoft or Apple sites for tutorials.

Hiring a pro

If you're not hip to the latest technology, hiring a professional is definitely the way to go.

"What we do is make works of art through technology," says James Sholtz of Northville-based Ascend Multimedia. With a filmmaking background, Sholtz takes photos, both digital and hard copy, and creates a motion picture-like montage for customers.

Franklin of Redford notes that professionals are software-savvy and take all the elements, from pictures to music choice and graphics, into consideration.

"A lot of people don't tell stories with montages," Franklin says. From choosing the wrong photos to improperly spacing them, these mistakes can ruin your creation.

Hiring a pro may put a bit of strain on your wallet, but pricing for this service ranges depending on the videographer. When looking for the best price, do your homework. Research online, call around and ask friends for a reference.

For Sholtz's services, packages range from $150 to $350. The number of pictures used, in addition to graphics and other elements affect, the bottom line. "The price involved is worth it for most people," Sholtz says.

Hiring a professional saves you the time and frustration that goes into putting together your own montage.

"I think it's a fabulous service. Photographs fade, they deteriorate," Sholtz says, but montages filled with memories will last forever.

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