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Ratings & Reviews
Make a Home Movie DVD with All Your Short Videos
Great way to turn all of those short videos on your camera into an actual home movie DVD for people to watch and save. Makes a great family gift!
(0) Ratings & Reviews

A few years ago, I was wondering what to do with all of the short videos I had managed to collect on my camera. Most of my videos were just a few seconds or minutes long, but they captured some pretty sentimental moments with my son and our family. I decided I wanted to organize my videos on a home movie DVD that we could all watch on the TV. Our home movie has turned into an annual family Christmas tradition and I find the kids playing it over and over again throughout the year because they get a kick out of watching themselves on TV and remembering all of the fun and funny things they've done.

Through some trial and error, I've learned that it's easiest for me to actually create the movie by saving all of my short home movies to my computer and then importing them into Windows Movie Maker. The computer that I usually use at home is a bit old so, once a year, my husband brings home a faster laptop from work so that I can borrow it for the weekend to make our movie. So if you start using Windows Movie Maker at home and it feels like it's just moving too slowly, you might want to see if you can borrow somebody else's machine for your project and save yourself A LOT of time and frustration.

I like Windows Movie Maker because it's the easiest way for me to pull together a bunch of different videos, lay them out in a sequence, and quickly add the little titles, menus, opening and closing credits, and captions that help tie the movie together. The program is pretty self-explanatory and easy to use - even for a relatively computer-challenged person like me, but it did take a certain amount of just playing around with things and trying them out.

I generally divide my movies up by month but you can do whatever makes the most sense for you. For example, I usually start our movie with some videos shot during the previous Christmas so I'll start with the title "Christmas 2012" and then play all of the Christmas movies. Next I'll usually have "January 2013", etc. I also insert special titles for big events like "First School Bus Ride" or "Chloe's 2nd Birthday Party", etc. There is a ton of space here for being creative. You can put captions at the bottom of the videos or use different colors and fonts and effects if you'd like.

The version of Windows Movie Maker that I use does not give me the option to burn a DVD once my movie is finished so, once I've saved my final movie, I open it in Windows DVD Maker to actually burn the DVDs. I have a stack of blank DVDs that my husband picked up at Best Buy a few years ago and each year I grab a couple of them for this project.

I like the "homegrown" look for this project so I just label the discs with a sharpie. I know there are much fancier and more professional looking ways to label a disc, but this fast and easy way works great for me. (I also write our family name on the discs and boxes but that seemed like a weird thing to post on the internet so I'm leaving that part out of the pictures here.)

The first year that I tried this project, it occurred to me at the last minute that it'd be nice to put the DVDs in movie boxes, so I just grabbed some old DVD cases from our collection and improvised and I've been doing the same thing every year since. I pick out a couple of perfectly good movies that, for whatever reason, I just don't see us itching to watch any time soon. I pull out the old movies (I do save them inside their paper covers in the back of our DVD drawer ) and use their paper cover inserts as a template to cut out a piece of white paper that's the right size to fit in the box.
Next, I insert the blank papers back into the DVD cases so that I'm sure they fit and so that they become creased in the right spots.
I pull the creased blank papers out and the creases help the kids and I to see where the back, front, and side of the covers are as we decorate. My kids get really excited about the movie project and they love to decorate the boxes. My oldest is getting to where he can write some of the titles. We usually just use crayons and markers because I really do like these to look homemade.
We make a special home movie box for our family as well as for each of the grandparents and my brother. Every year, we have the grandparents and my brother over for Christmas dinner. They open their home movie DVDs as part of their gifts from us (really they are the only people who love us enough to enjoy our home movie enough to consider it a gift). After dinner, we play the home movie DVD in the background as people sit around and talk and eat pie and play with toys. It's become a fun and relaxing family tradition. Plus it gets all of those old videos off of my camera and into a way more usable and enjoyable format.