The holidays are a wonderful time to celebrate your traditions and express your love, appreciation and warm wishes to family, friends, and associates. Mailing cards is a time-honored way of sharing these special times. More and more, people are turning online to share holiday video cards.
Many websites have long specialized in still or animated e-cards that you can send to fit nearly every occasion. Some let you upload a still photo to insert into a template with a holiday theme. We’ll show you how to take the next step and make your own, custom holiday video cards. All you need to share your greetings is a camcorder or smartphone, RealPlayer and a Facebook account.
10 HOLIDAY VIDEO CARD CONSIDERATIONS
Even if you’ve shot video for a while, much of that may have been at events or gatherings capturing the moment spontaneously. Making a holiday video card is a bit different. You are creating a specific message and have more control over the setting and content of the video. If you’re not sure what to put in the holiday video, do a video search to see what other people have done.
Here are some of the considerations you should decide in advance:
1. Who will be in the holiday video card?
2. What will they wear?
3. Are you making different videos for relatives, friends and associates?
4. Will you shoot the video inside or outside?
5. How will you light the video? Be aware of bright lights or backgrounds behind people.
6. Will your video setting be day or night?
7. Who is going to say what and when? Is everyone going to say, “Happy Holidays … “ simultaneously, in turn or deliver special messages?
8. Is the camera’s built-in microphone adequate?
9. Do you want background music
10. How long does the video need to be?
Shoot a test to be sure you can create good quality images and sound. A little time spent planning before pressing the record button will pay off in efficiency and will make the process more fun for everyone. Keep in mind you need to capture the video in a single shot.
RealPlayer is a terrific media player, downloader, and file format converter, but it is not designed for video editing. However, you can use RealPlayer’s Trimmer tool to delete unnecessary video from the head and tail of the video. Don’t let that put you off though. One shot is all you need for a video card. Shoot as many “takes” as necessary, and then select the best.
SHOOTING YOUR HOLIDAY VIDEO CARD
The assumption here is that no one is actually operating the video camera while recording. Everyone will be in front of the camera. It’s a locked-down shot. Just let the video recorder run and simply do another take if needed. Using a quiet countdown of “1-2-3” will help everyone start on time. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when creating your video card:
Create a “Slate.” If you plan on making more than one holiday video card, list the people who will be receiving it and what to say to each. If there are several recipients, write their names in big letters on a sheet of paper. When you are shooting the video for each person, hold the paper so the camera sees it, and say the name, lower it, and then begin your message. This acts as a homemade “Slate,” making it easier to identify which shot is for which person. You can also number the “takes” if that method works better for you.
Eliminate a Shaky Shot. Compose the shot. Keep the camera steady by placing it on a tripod. Tiny desktop tripods are available. If that’s not possible, secure the camcorder or smartphone so it’s stable.
Lighting Goes A Long Way. Be sure there is enough light on the people in the video. Especially if there are lights behind them or the background is bright, such as a sunny day in the snow. You don’t need to buy expensive lighting kits, you can just rearrange the lights in your house to make sure everyone’s face is well-lit and doesn’t have dark shadows under the eyes.
Add Audio Ambience. It’s possible to include background music with your video card. Place a speaker near the microphone and play the music while shooting. Be sure you’ve tested this before, so the music is at the right level. If it doesn’t work, forget it. Your family and friends want to hear you most of all.
Testing, Testing, Testing. Shoot a test with everyone in place, then stop recording and check the playback to make sure everything is as it should be.
Roll with It. Once you start shooting for real, keep recording. If someone makes a mistake or flubs a line, just start again.
Do the Filming in One Sitting. Shoot as many versions for as many people as you want.
Check the Footage. When finished, check the playback again to make sure everything was recorded correctly.
USING THE REALPLAYER TRIMMER TO MAKE YOUR HOLIDAY VIDEO CARDS
If you don’t already have RealPlayer, you can download it free by clicking the orange button in the top right corner of this page. It has all you need to trim the video and share it with friends and family on Facebook. After importing the video into the RealPlayer Library, and use the RealPlayer trim to make sure you have only the footage you want. Simply, right-click on the thumbnail image for the imported video in the Library, and select “Trim…”
The entire video you shot opens in the RealPlayer Trimmer. Now, play and/or “scrub” through the video to find the specific segment you want. Just grab and move the “handles” at the head and tail to pick the part you want. Then, press the green “play” button to see and hear just the selected segment of the video. Continue to adjust the head and tail as necessary until you have the video card you want.
When you have it, click “Save Trim…” A new window opens, prompting you to name this clip, and save it in the RealPlayer Library. This is a “non-destructive” process. A copy of that segment from the original video is made. Nothing happens to the master version of the video. As many different clips as you want can be made without altering the original.
POST THE HOLIDAY VIDEO ON FACEBOOK TO SHARE WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS
After all your holiday video cards are created with the Trimmer, it’s time to upload, post, and share them on Facebook.
In the Library, find the thumbnail for the clip and hover the cursor over it. A menu pops up. Click “Share” and the sites you can send the video to are listed. Click Facebook. RealPlayer opens a Facebook login window.
Once you’re signed-in to Facebook, you’ll see a thumbnail of the video and a field where you can enter a title. Then, click “Share.”
A progress bar and timer will display the upload progress. Your holiday video cards are likely to be short. Thirty seconds – a minute – or maybe three minutes max. Facebook currently has a 1 GB size and twenty-minute limit on what you can upload.
If you’ve done this before, you know — but if you haven’t, don’t worry that the video you are uploading to Facebook is being broadcast instantaneously to everyone on the planet when you click “Share.” It appears on your Timeline (aka Wall), and by default, is locked in the “Only Me” share setting. No one will see the video until you authorize it.
To share more than one video card with specific people on Facebook, repeat the process of selecting, naming, and uploading the clips. Then go to your Facebook Timeline to set the sharing for whoever you want to see what. “Custom” allows naming a specific individual(s) on Facebook who will receive video. You can of course also share with everyone on your Friends list or the Public – only for people with Facebook accounts.
Familiarize yourself with Facebook’s privacy settings and procedures to know exactly who will be seeing your posts.
SHARING HOLIDAY VIDEO CARDS IS FUN AND TELLS PEOPLE YOU CARE
Video and social websites were just made for each other. Both are accessible by more and more people everyday. They combine to create a unique type of communication that is personal and compelling. And, those messages can be private, shared with specific friends, or available for the public to see. It’s simple to make your own video cards this holiday or for other special occasions.
Have you sent a holiday video card to anyone? Have you ever received one? Let us know in the comments below.