How to Create a Memorial Video for a Funeral: Step-By-Step

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The funeral of a loved one is an opportunity to say your final goodbyes as a family. It brings everyone together in remembrance of someone special. Recently, it’s become popular to use visual elements in funerals, whether they’re used during the service or on online memorial sites. These focus the guests on the deceased loved one and serve as a powerful reminder of the legacy left behind.

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One of the most common ways to pay tribute to a loved one at a funeral is with a memorial video. With so many modern tools available nowadays, it’s no longer complicated to make the perfect video in honor of someone special. You don’t need any fancy equipment, software, or skills to get started.

Keep reading for a step-by-step guide to creating a memorial video for a funeral. 

COVID-19 tip: If you're hosting a Zoom memorial service using a service like GatheringUs, ask if you can create a digital memorial slideshow or video to share with your virtual guests. You can scan physical photos to add, upload live videos, add songs, and other digital mementos to your slideshow.

Step 1: Pick Who's in Charge

First, name one individual to be in charge of creating the video. Since there are a variety of tools that take the heavy lifting out of this process, you don’t need several people working on the video at once. Having too many people not only overcomplicates the creativity of the video, but it also might be complicated with gathering content. 

Ask for a volunteer or name yourself in charge of the memorial video. While you don’t need any tech skills, it definitely is a perk if the chosen video maker has some familiarity with video editing software or tools. In addition, make sure the chosen party understands the type of video needed and reviews some examples before getting started. 

If you can't find a volunteer and are already planning an online or virtual funeral, you might want to consider using a service. Virtual funeral planning services, such as GatheringUs, offer slideshow creation, custom playlists, and tech support as part of their planning packages.

» MORE: How do you host a virtual funeral? Start here

 

Step 2: Gather Content for Your Video

Now it’s time to gather content. This doesn’t have to be just photographs of the deceased. You can be as creative as you want with what to include. Some ideas include:

  • Photos: Photos are a natural choice for a memorial video. Look for a variety of images that represent a life well-lived starting from birth. These can include family, friends, and other meaningful life moments. 
  • Videos: If you have any videos of the deceased, these make a great addition. If not, consider adding video reflections or tributes from close friends and family. This is a good idea if you have some guests who are unable to attend in person but want to say a few words. 
  • Memorabilia: Our lives are captured in more than just photos and videos. Things like artwork, letters, costumes, and trophies are all a way to highlight who we were. 
  • Literature: A lot of people like to include quotes, poems, and prayers that meant something to the deceased or the family. 

Consider the story you’re trying to tell. We are each made of a complex collection of experiences, memories, and belongings. Piecing all of these things together is a powerful way to honor someone’s life. 

Step 3: Store Your Media Collection

Before you get started actually creating the video, take some time to get organized. While collecting photos, videos, and memorabilia from friends and family, organize everything in one place. It’s helpful to digitize this collection so it’s easy to add to your video when the time comes. 

To simplify this process, share a folder with friends and family that they can add to from their own devices. This is simple to do with a cloud storage solution like Google Drive, Dropbox, or Onedrive. If security is a concern, set a password to keep your loved one’s privacy safe. 

Step 4: Choose a Soundtrack

Next, choose your music. Most memorial videos for funerals are anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes. Consult with your funeral planner to determine just how much time you have to fill within the service. You don’t want to encroach on other aspects of the ceremony. Once you know the timeframe, choose 1-3 songs, hymns, or other memorial service songs

You can choose anything that feels like a good fit for your particular video. Most people choose songs that mean something to the deceased. For instance, if they were lovers of rock ‘n roll, playing a song from their favorite band is a great way to honor their interests. 

Another option is to match the songs with the photographs. When sharing life’s biggest moments, you might realize multiple songs are needed to capture the feelings. Music is a powerful way to evoke emotion, so choose your soundtrack wisely. 

Step 5: Put Together the Video

It’s finally time to put it all together. Similar to a funeral slideshow, there are a variety of free and paid tools available. Here are some of the most common options:

  • Free software: Your computer or smartphone might already be equipped with video editing software. Windows Movie Maker on PC and iMovie on Mac are both great options. Otherwise, you can download some free software online that fits the bill. 
  • Slideshow tools: You also can use a slideshow maker like Powerpoint, Google Slides, or Keynote. However, most funeral homes prefer your final product to be in a DVD (video) format, not a slideshow. Keep this in mind if you choose this route. 
  • Video apps: Next, there are a variety of video apps that do a lot of the work for you. They usually have preset memorial templates that are expertly designed, saving you a lot of time. Though these usually cost a small fee, they could be worth the convenience. 

There is an option for every budget and experience level. What you choose depends on how much time you have available, your resources, and your comfort level with basic video editing. 

Step 6: Export and Test Your Video

Once your memorial video looks perfect, it’s time to export. As mentioned before, most funeral homes prefer this to be in a video format, not a slideshow format. That means you’ll need to export as .mp4, .mov, or .mpeg. However, pay close attention to the file size. 

When your video exports, take some time to watch it back and ensure everything looks right. You might notice small errors that weren’t easy to see before exporting. This is normal, so leave time for this in your process. 

Step 7: Prepare Before the Funeral

Last but not least, be sure to do some preparation before the memorial event. Talk to your funeral director about what you’ll need to have with you. They might request a DVD, a flash drive, or an emailed video prior to the big day. You might also need a screen and projector, though these are usually provided by the facility. 

Always be sure to have a backup of your video ready. Whether that means burning 2 DVDs or having a version saved online, be sure you have something else just in case. One common option is to upload your video to a platform like YouTube and set it to private. This way, it’s always accessible online, and you can share it with friends and family after the service ends. 

Finally, test your video before starting the service. Make sure the volume is correct and that everything runs smoothly. From there, just wait until it’s time to press play. 

Dedicate a Video to Someone’s Life

While it’s not possible to sum up a lifetime of emotions and experiences in a short video, a memorial tribute is a great way to honor someone’s memory. Memorial videos are increasingly popular, and it’s easy to see why. Not only are they more accessible than ever before, but more people are documenting life’s everyday moments than ever before. With so many photos, videos, and mementos to choose from, creating a narrative of someone’s time on earth is no longer the chore it once was. 

Whether you’re planning an in-person video viewing, a Zoom funeral, or another virtual event with a platform like GatheringUs, a video memorial is a great way to come together after the loss of a loved one. We’re lucky to live in an age where it’s possible to relive these special moments even after death. Memorial videos are real-life proof that those we love never leave us, and that one’s legacy really does go on beyond death.

If you're looking for more help with funeral planning read our guide on funeral terminology and examples of a funeral's order of service.

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