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Get ready for the holiday season–webDotWiz Online column Nov 25 2010

Last year a number of people created a seasons greetings movie from some photos taken during the year and emailed it instead of buying and snail mailing traditional cards. The movie was well received so it’s time to get ready for this year’s holiday season. The tools we’ll use are Live Photo Gallery and Live Movie Maker. If you haven’t got these apps yet, download Windows Live Essentials 2011 from download.live.com.

Browse and tag photos

In Live Photo Gallery browse through the photos you’ve taken this year (or older photos if you prefer). We’re looking for about twenty photos to keep the movie short and pithy. Think of a tag, such as Xmas movie 2010. You may want to create different movies for different groups of family and friends, so expand your tag with a number or letter, such as Xmas movie 2010 1 or Xmas Movie 2010 a.

We’ll be using this tag later on to group together all the photos for the seasons greetings movie by using Find in Live Photo Gallery so that we can then simply create the movie and all the photos will automatically load into Live Movie Maker.

To easily bring up all your 2010 photos in Live Photo Gallery, click the Find tab, then the Year icon and select 2010. If you need to, click Search all in the main window.

Alternatively you may want to focus your photos on people so then you can use Live Photo Gallery’s face recognition function. Simply click on a face in the face gallery either on the Home or Find tabs.

As you browse your photos, click the middle of a photo to select it. Then tick (i.e., click) the selection box at the top left of each photo you want in your selection. Remember if you click the middle of a photo, you’ll lose your selection so you’ll need to start again.

Once you’ve selected a group of photos, click Add descriptive tags in the right pane to tag all these photos (we’re using something like Xmas movie 2010 as a tag).

Once you’ve got about twenty photos, click on Find, the Tags icon and click Xmas movie 2010 to bring up all your photos as a whole. Now add a caption to each photo or a caption on the first photo of a group of photos. Now your audience will have some information about the photo when viewing the movie.

The reason for grouping about twenty photos for your movie is that each photo will display for five seconds (unless you change this time in Live Movie Maker) so we’re keeping our movie short. As well, we’ll be adding a title and credit image to our movie. The free music clips from last year are also short so twenty photos or so is a good number.

After you’ve added captions, it’s time to move everything over to Live Movie Maker.

Creating the movie

Select all your season greetings photos using CTRL+A. Click on the Create tab in Live Photo Gallery then click the Movie icon. Live Movie Maker will start up with your photos already loaded.

If you want to change the order of photos, click the photo you want to move and drag it to its new position. Just remember to use drag and drop you need to have placed the big black bar next to the photo you want to move.

Last year Windows Live made available a free collection of title and credit images as well as music clips. Maybe we’ll have the same this year but while we’re waiting, download last year’s free pack from the web address in this week’s sites list. The file is a zip file so right click it after downloading and extract the files into a folder on your computer.

Position your cursor on your first photo in Live Movie Maker, and on the Home tab, select Add videos and photos to load one of the titles from the pack. Place your cursor on the last photo and load one of the credit images.

You’ll want to add a personal greeting on the first image so click it and type in your text. Similarly you can add your own message to the credit image.

To add music, click the Music icon on the Home tab (after place the cursor at the start of your movie). After loading one of the free pieces of music, you’ll see its duration and you may need to add another music clip or two to fill out your movie.

Now you’re ready to save your work. Go to the File menu (the blue rectangle at the top left), choose Save Project as, give your project a name and click Save. This step saves your collection of photos, title and credit, and the music so you can return if you need to for some editing.

There are a couple of options as to saving your movie. The simplest is to save it to your Skydrive online. When the uploader comes up you’ll have to decide who you’re going to share your movie with. One option is set viewing permissions to Just me and later use Share in Live Photos to send out invitations to family and friends so they receive an email with the link to your online video so they can view it.

For those family and friends without email you’ll have to save your movie on your computer and use Windows DVD Maker to create a number of DVDs to pass around or mail.

Use Word or PowerPoint Web App

An alternative to creating a season greetings movie is to put together a Word or PowerPoint document in Office Web Apps and share it with family and friends even if you or your friends don’t have Microsoft Office installed on their computer.

After you’ve signed in with your Windows Live ID, go to your Live homepage, click Office and create the appropriate type of document (Word or PowerPoint being the most suitable).

You can insert photos into both. With PowerPoint you’ll need to browse through the different themes available to choose the most suitable one for your season greetings document.

In comparison to the desktop version of Word, the Word Office Web App doesn’t have all the styling features in desktop Word so you’ll have to use some creative genius to spice up your greetings document. Give the PowerPoint Office Web App a try to see if there’s a theme that satisfies your requirements.

Regardless of the type of Office Web App document you create, once it’s saved you can share (i.e., have Live Skydrive send an email) with family and friends without any further effort.

Another option is to use Docs.com to share a season greetings document with your Facebook friends.

You can see there are lots of choices to make life easier to share season greetings with family and friends this year.


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Posted using Windows Live Writer 2011.


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