R aise your hand if you’re a millennial and own a camcorder. Yep, that’s what I thought. Zero hands raised. If we get technical about it, almost all of us have a video recorder that we keep in our pockets at all times – the magic of smart phones, right? But gone are the days when you see people whipping out bulky video cameras and filming birthday parties or dance recitals or special picnics in the park.

A couple years ago, I started to realize this was a problem for my little documentarian heart. Some of my favorite moments of adulthood have been looking back on home videos from when my siblings and I were little.

My parents were great about lugging out the big camcorder for various holidays, special events, and just everyday life (those moments of slipping on shoes and toasting bread as Hafiz says). My mom and dad captured a lot of great moments and looking back at that footage is a treat. If there was extensive video footage of my parents when they were my age I would be crowing from the rooftops about it. There’s not, unfortunately, but it would be SO FUN to watch if it existed.

But therein lies the rub: I don’t own a camcorder that I use to capture special moments and, although I have the capability of recording video on my phone, that takes up a lot of space. Plus, I’m simply not in the habit of taking long chunks of video for various events. On top of all this, I DO think there is a fair amount of video footage my parents took that was just plain boring. You have to sift through a lot to get to the gold. I’m not complaining, I just think there’s a way of getting wonderful snippets without recording 10 minutes at a time. One solution to this has been the One Second Everyday app that I wrote about awhile back. I still love that but I wanted more.

Enter: Snapchat and Instagram Stories. I’ve come to realize that these two mediums are my generation’s version of home videos. We DO capture moments on film but just in a different way than our forefathers did.

Here’s the thing, though: if those small snippets aren’t consistently saved to the film roll on your phone, they disappear into the ether. And even if you do tend to save some of the snaps or IG stories to your phone, there’s a high chance they’re just left there or eventually saved onto a computer without a great way to sit down and watch them like you would with a home video from the 80s. (All the best home videos were filmed in the 80s, right?)

So here’s what I started doing over a year ago. I began to save literally EVERY SINGLE Snapchat or IG story that I filmed. Some people may shake their heads at that. “Isn’t the whole point of these apps that you’re just sharing throw-away little moments that aren’t that significant? They’re cool for 24 hours but then you move on to the next thing?” Not in my book.

I love the fact that my quick, 10 second videos of everyday life are just that: fun peeks into exactly what life is like right now. A glance at the insane moving process we take every 6 months or so. A peep of Bobby and I snuggled on the couch with a cocktail. A look into Graham’s total adoration of squirrel chasing (the other day in the park he whipped past the basketball court in pursuit of a squirrel and a kid said to his friend, “Dang, that dog is dedicated.”). I love that I’m able to capture these everyday shots of our lives right now and I want to preserve them for the future.

Here’s the process I’ve developed:

1) Save the video to my camera roll. For Snapchat I push on the little download, arrow button. For Instagram Stories, I changed the setting to automatically save each story to my phone.

2) Periodically, transfer these 10 second videos into the iMovie app on my iPhone. (If you have an Android, there are plenty of alternatives to iMovie if you just do a quick Google search.)

3) Mash them all together so that I have a 30-60 minute video of all these little snaps.

4) Upload to my computer and to Youtube for future viewing.

Maybe this isn’t’ revolutionary. Maybe everyone is basically doing this and I’m not some life-documenting genius. But if you haven’t been saving your snaps then I know you’re probably blown away by this idea and are sending applause my way. You’re welcome. You’re welcome.

I think I might take more snaps than the average person, so my videos tend to be hilariously long once they’re all inserted into iMovie. Like, I mashed together everything from January through September of 2016 and it was just shy of one hour and twenty minutes long. Then I created another one for October through December and that one was 50 minutes long.

Sure, there are some embarrassing/ridiculous snaps in there (which makes sense, seeing as the whole premise of these apps is that things don’t have to be polished because they disappear quickly…unless you’re saving them like me, ha). There are more than a few where I’m talking directly to the camera and I’m sure it will look like I was really vain and full of myself and trying too hard to be funny…but I don’t care. I’m not planning to shove these long montages in front of new acquintances who come over for dinner (although how hilarious would that be??) – they’re just for us and any future kids. (When I upload the videos to Youtube I set them as private so I’m the only one with access to them – they really are there for posterity’s sake and nothing else.)

Basically it comes down to this: HOW COOL WILL IT BE to sit down when we’re 80 and remember what 2016 was like for us? SO cool, that’s how cool.

If you’d like to thrill the pants of your future 80 year-old self, too, here are a few tips I’ve learned through trial and error…

  • Don’t worry about the time frame from all your snaps – ideally, it would be so nice and tidy to have a single large video for each year. However, I quickly realized that it made more sense to just wait for a large quantity of snaps, put them into iMovie, and then erase them from my phone. As I mentioned above, my first video chronicles January-September and my second video was October-December. They’re not like bookends but it really doesn’t matter in the end.
  • iMovie allows you to create a title page which is where you can denote the timespan that the snippets cover. Simply scroll to the beginning of the video snippets and click the + sign to add a photo. Then layer text on top of it. I’ve been titling them “Snippets of Life. G + B + G, (appropriate dates here).”
  • I prefer to wait until I have a large amount of snaps and IG stories saved before I import them into iMovie instead of importing them in small batches. Why? Because the very first time you go to create a video in iMovie, it allows you to easily click on all the videos or photos from your camera roll that you want mashed together. It’s a relatively painless process. However, once you’ve created your “main” movie, it gets more tedious to add additional clips. It’s still possible, but it takes more clicks. Here’s what I mean, via photo examples. Let’s say I wanted to add more clips after doing my big import. My screen looks like this:

I click the plus sign on the left to add in a new video and then click on the “Video” category. From there I can click on “All” whereupon I see all of my videos lined up like this:

Once I select the clip I want to add to the movie, it will highlight in yellow.

From there, I click the little plus sign and it will add it to the end of my movie. But in order to add additional clips, I need to repeat that process for EVERY SINGLE CLIP. It’s a huge pain. It takes so much time. So just trust me that you’ll be a happier camper if you import the vast majority of your clips in one swoop when you initially create the video in iMovie.

    • In order for your video to be chronological, you’ll want to scroll to the beginning of your camera roll and start clicking on the videos in order from earliest to most recent. iMovie will take you to the most recent clips on your phone first, but if you highlight those clips first, they will be the first ones to populate in your final iMovie compilation. So unless you want a Benjamin Button vibe going on, you’ll need to override that.
    • If you’re like me, you probably film the majority of your snaps and IG stories vertically. When you put them into the iMovie app, it will automatically crop them into a square – this may cut off some important parts of the video (and often crops off any text if you’ve added that into the snap). The first time I created a long video, I failed to catch this and all of my snippets were cropped to the square size – I had already deleted all the videos from my phone and hadn’t saved them individually to my computer so I was unable to fix the error. (Sad violin plays.)  WHOOPS. I still have the most important part of course, which is the basic video. With that said, it’s rather annoying to watch and I’ve since figured out how to prevent that automatic cropping from becoming an issue in future compilations. In a nutshell, you have to click on the individual video segment and then hit the tiny magnifying glass near the upper lefthand corner of your screen. It will then say “pinch to zoom video.” From there, you can squeeze the image with your fingers to make it smaller so that the whole frame is in the screen. Basically, it will go from looking like this…

…to this:

Scroll through each video clip and repeat this process, making sure that all your vertical videos are fitting in the frame.

  • I think it’s nice to have the finished videos saved in a couple different places. As I mentioned before, I save them both to iPhoto on my computer and to YouTube. If you have the YouTube app on your phone, it shows up as an option when you click the “upload” button on the final video. From there, decide on your privacy settings and add in a description. Then you’re in business. So slick. If this takes too long or if your video seems too lengthy to put on YouTube via your phone, just click on the download symbol within iMovie and then click “Save Video.” From there it will export into your camera roll. You can then get it onto your computer and, from your computer, put it onto YouTube. (Forgive me if this all seems so basic – I just wanna make sure our slightly tech-scared friends can figure out how to make this magic happen without pulling their hair out.)

So there you have it! In case you’d like to see an example of how this all comes together, I compiled a week-long sample of my snaps and IG stories from this past week (I mean, I could show you the two hour-long compilation from last year but let’s be real, ain’t nobody got time for that). ;)

This whole process is much easier and more painless than this lengthy post may make it appear, I promise. I just wanted to be super thorough so your learning curve isn’t as big as mine was when I was muddling my way through this the first time.

Let me know if you try this and if you have any questions that I didn’t address!