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Dedicating a Funeral Tribute Video to Your Loved One

Creating a funeral video is a wonderful and very special way to pay tribute to a loved one who died. It allows you to show the attending family members, friends and acquaintances different facets of their life and can help with the grieving process. In this guide on how to make a funeral tribute video, we will cover which photos and what film footage to choose, how to pick the perfect soundtrack, give useful tips on how to best compile the tribute video, what you need to know about exporting and testing it as well as the best ways to share it with your loved ones. Let’s get started with planning, though.

Planning a Memorial Video

(Pre-)planning a funeral or celebration of life is a big task. There are many different decisions to be made and things that need to be organised and arranged. If you decide to honour the loved one that has died with a memorial video, it will be helpful to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who can and wants to be responsible for creating the funeral tribute video? It doesn’t have to be just one person, but neither should there be too many people involved as it just overcomplicates the process. One or two people in charge of gathering the material and creating the memorial video are ideal. With today’s programs and apps that make it rather simple and intuitive to put a video together, you don’t need professional skills but it does help if you are at least somewhat tech-savvy. Alternatively – depending on your budget, how much/little time you have and how professional you want it to be – you might want to consider hiring a company or individual to help you/who will create the tribute video for you with the material you and your family provide.
  • Will you show the video before or after (for example at the wake) or during the funeral service? Your answer to this question determines how long the video should be. It is recommended to keep the memorial video between 3-6 minutes if you show it during the funeral service. If you show it afterwards or at a celebration of life which is much more informal, it can be longer but shouldn’t exceed 10 minutes.

Gathering Photos & Videos

Sorting through analogue and digital photos as well as video footage and choosing the few, carefully selected shots and film snippets that you want to use in the funeral tribute video might seem like a daunting task. Depending on how close you were to the person who died, this can also be a very emotional process. You will want to capture the uniqueness of who this person really was and tell the story of their life. It, therefore, makes sense to try and cover as many different eras – from early childhood until death – and areas – family, friends, career, communities/clubs, holidays/travels, time in the military, hobbies,… – as possible. 

You want your photos and video snippets to be as diverse as possible. Depending on who the person was that you are making the memorial video about it might make sense to include their favourite poem or quote. If they were a collector of any sort, very successful at a sport or a tinkerer, take pictures of their art/stamp collection/cars/…, special memorabilia, trophies and medals or unique creations they came up with. Maybe you have a voice memo or message from them that you could include? Or you could ask 2-4 close family members and friends to record a short anecdote or say a few sentences on how that person impacted/changed their lives forever and include those snippets as well.

If you are aiming for a 6-minute tribute video and want to have ~2 minutes of film footage in it, you’re looking at somewhere between 50 and 60 photos that you want to pick – if you show every photo for 3 seconds and add 1 second for blending from one photo to the next.

You can arrange the material chronologically or you could give your funeral video a theme, a red thread, and arrange the photos and film footage around that. It’s wise to decide on that before you start looking through photo albums and camera rolls.

Picking the Perfect Soundtrack

Music and sound can be extremely powerful and evoke deep emotions. It’s an art in itself to arrange photos and video snippets in such a way that they align with the melody or lyrics of a song.

For a 6-8 minute video tribute for a funeral, it makes sense to pick two songs. If you are aiming for 10 minutes, three songs will probably work best. 

In terms of which ones to pick for the soundtrack of your memorial video: Maybe there is a song or two that tell the story of the deceased one’s life or that perfectly capture their personality. Or they had a favourite song they always listened to, sang along with or whistled. Or you choose songs that accentuate the theme of the memorial video you’re creating. 

Compiling the Memorial Video

Now it’s time to combine the photo and video material you’ve chosen with the songs you’ve picked. If you have a PC you can use the free Windows Video Editor (previously called Windows Movie Maker) for editing the images and film footage into a memorial video. If you have an iPhone, iPad or Mac you can use Apple’s free standard software iMovie. Both programs are pretty intuitive to use. As most funeral homes will ask you for a DVD or USB drive with a video file on it, it is not advisable to create a slideshow with Keynote (Apple) or PowerPoint (Windows).

If you are not getting anywhere with the above-mentioned programs for whatever reason, google “video editing software/app for beginners” or have a look around the GooglePlay or App store. You will find numerous options for paid software/apps – the latter with a range of templates – that might work better for you. Most likely you’ll have to sign up for a monthly subscription. It’s advisable to read the reviews and look into the specific features of each software/app to be sure it fits your needs before investing any money.

It really depends on your previous experience/skill level in regards to video editing, how much time you have to put it all together as well as on your budget. If you decide to hire a professional to create the funeral tribute video, all you have to do is provide the material – you won’t have to worry about editing at all.

Exporting & Testing the Video

Always check with the funeral director what equipment they have available and which video format they can work with. Usually, they will ask for a DVD or USB stick and tell you what kind of file they prefer (e.g. MP4, WMV, MOV, AVI, MKV…). Make sure you export the video in a format that can be used by the funeral home. Depending on the size of the video and how fast it is, exporting can take some time. You don’t want to leave it to the last minute. Watch the video two or three times after exporting it to make sure that it runs smoothly and there aren’t any glitches or errors. Often, we become a bit blind to the details after we’ve worked on something for several hours or days. Therefore, it’s worth asking one or two people that you trust to watch it with you as they might pick up on things you’ve missed and be able to provide valuable feedback.

In terms of equipment, the funeral director will probably be able to provide a beamer as well as a sound system or at least decent speakers. If possible, try to go there one day before the funeral and do a test run. Always have a backup copy of your funeral video in case the first one stops working or suddenly goes missing.

Sharing the Video

A funeral tribute video is a wonderful way to remember and share the special memories your family and friends created with the loved one who died. As you have put a lot of thought and time into creating a memorial video, it only makes sense to share it with loved ones, so they can re-watch it whenever they feel like it. One way to do so is by uploading it to a video platform like YouTube or Vimeo – both give you the option to list a video as private, so it’s only accessible if someone has the link to it. As USB sticks are really cheap these days, you could also buy a bunch of them, copy the video file onto each of them and hand them out to a selected group of funeral guests. Burning the memorial video onto DVDs works as well. Another way to share it would be to upload it to a Dropbox or GoogleDrive folder and give people access to that, so they can download it onto their own devices.

We hope, that this blog post on creating a funeral memorial video has been helpful to you. Please consider sharing it on social media.