How to Make a Bar Mitzvah Video
Over the years, I think I’ve recorded hundreds (thousands?) of little family video clips. So if you’re wondering, yes, of course I created a video to celebrate our son’s bar mitzvah.
It was a highlights reel of sorts, containing some of his greatest hits to date… at least the ones that I happened to capture on video.
Fortunately, I’ve been diligent over these past thirteen years to label each of my family video clips and organize them into folders by month and year. (That’s a lot of folders!)
Over time, I’ve also created a variety of little ‘finished’ family videos that reflected different moments in our family’s story (birthday parties, vacation trips). These particular videos were especially useful to identify the clips I needed for the bar mitzvah video.
Not a Documentary
So years of good digital organization set me up nicely to begin my project. (I’ve got all of my video files stored in an external G-RAID drive.)
But really, any way I looked at my task, it was still absolutely overwhelming. (And I wasn’t even considering using any photos.)
So instead of trying to accomplish the impossible and somehow jam in every perfect clip to tell the ‘total’ story, I decided instead to enjoy my trip into the past and simply use what I uncovered in my digital archives over the course of several hours during three separate research sessions.
Capture the Spirit
Sure, there were a few video moments that I had specifically remembered and searched for. (My wife also had a few clip requests.) But for the most part, my process of rediscovery organically led me to the clips I used. If I had repeated my exercise the following month, I could have easily collected an entirely different grouping of clips that were just as delightful.
I realized as I went along that the video would mostly reflect these three factors:
- Our son’s growth across the years
- His family and friends
- Some fun moments
It would never be a complete reflection on his life to date. And that was fine.
Keep a Simple Structure
This understanding freed me to focus on creating a video that was simply enjoyable to watch. And it was ‘relatively’ simple to make.
It ran seven and a half minutes. Each clip was 10 to 15 seconds long. And I organized them chronologically (using Final Cut Pro on my iMac) with a date stamp graphic in the bottom of the frame. I think the dates were useful to show the passage of time. I used a couple of his favorite pieces of music to support sections that were more visually oriented. And I popped in a title at the top and a ‘congratulations’ graphic at the back.
Finally, my wife and I recorded a short video message to our son that I included towards the end of the video.
Make a Few Drafts
That was it. I made three drafts before locking the final cut.
The first draft was a just a long string of clips in the right order. The second draft was a shorter version. (Everything can’t make it in. Always remember that less is more.) The third draft added a few more clips that my wife had remembered. (Don’t forget to collaborate!) And the final cut was where I polished it all up.
There are any number of ways to make a bar mitzvah video. This was the path I took.
A Video for the Past and the Future
We showed my finished video to our son, and I think he enjoyed it. He did smile a few times. To be fair, I can understand how he may not be as excited to see his toddler clips as we were. (My wife and I were delighted with the trip down memory lane.)
But beyond celebrating an important milestone for our son, I also see this video as a piece of family history that reflects our son’s first thirteen years. And I hope it’s something he can return to years into the future and enjoy.
My wife and I certainly will!