Dave Taylor

How To Create a Video Greeting Card on your Mac

I like to stay in touch with my friends and family by sending them newsletters and email, but as I have gotten more experience producing videos, I thought this year it’d be great to send a video greeting card instead!

I own a MacBook that has a built-in video camera and microphone, so I’m ready to go. If you have a Mac system that doesn’t have a built-in camera and microphone, look online, you’ll be surprised just how inexpensive an add-on webcam can be, and in Mac OS X it’s all real plug-and-play so you won’t have any problems with drivers or incompatibilities.

Once you have your hardware set up, it’s surprisingly quick and easy to create a video.

The easiest way to record a video on your Mac is to use Quicktime Player. Yup, you probably thought that it was only for playing video content, but it turns out the utility program can also help you create audio or video files too!

Let’s have a look…

WORKING WITH QUICKTIME PLAYER

The easiest way to launch QuickTime Player is to jump into your Applications folder and find the application icon. Double click it and QuickTime Player will launch:

quicktime-player-mac-1

Don’t be confused if you don’t see any window associated with the program appear: QuickTime Player doesn’t have a default window of its own, which is why I’m just showing you the menubar above.

Now notice the options under the “File” menu. The one we want is “Record new Movie…”

quicktime-player-mac-2

Before we actually record the video, a brief tip or two…

TIPS FOR MAKING A GREAT VIDEO

I have 4 tips that will help your videos come out well.

1. Make sure that you have an interesting background of some sort. Yeah, you can have a wall or window, but it’s not going to look very good. Have an outdoor table? Perfect.

2. Lighting is always important too. Never have the lights behind you. Make your face well lit and the lights in front of you brighter than the lights behind you, or everyone just sees a silhouette, which isn’t very fun.

3. Speak loudly, especially if there’s background noise!

4. Stack your Mac on top of some books so the built-in camera is at eye-level. Makes a big difference!

Have everything set up? Great!

To launch the recording window, click on “New Movie Recording” and a QuickTime window will appear and show you what it sees from the webcam.

quicktime-player-mac

Before we start the recording, click on the small white triangle to the right of the navigational bar on the window. It’ll bring up a set of different options for audio, video, save location, etc. Make sure they’re all set as you desire. Here’s what I set:

quicktime-player-mac-4

To actually start the recording, click on the red square near the bottom of the window. Then anything you say or do will be captured to a video file that’s saved in the location you’ve specified in the setup, or “Movies” if you use the default.

Now it’s time to look at the camera — not the screen! — and give it your best shot. Here’s what I say for my video greeting card:

“Hi everyone, this is Dave and I just wanted to wish you all a really great holiday, wanted to let you know everything’s going great in Colorado. We’re waiting for our first snowfall, which is actually supposed to happen tonight! So we’ll see how that goes. We’re supposed to see about six inches of snow, that could be a lot.

Kids are doing great, and, really, mostly I just wanted to let you know that you’re in our thoughts, so I hope that everything’s going terrific for you and we’d love to hear from you.
See ya later. Bye bye.”

That’s all there is to it! I told you it was going to be quick and easy!

Now I’m going to share it on YouTube, but you can choose any video sharing site so your friends and family can see it.

I’ve already set up a YouTube account. If you haven’t, it’s quite easy to do by going to youtube.com and clicking “sign up”.

Ready to share it? Click on “YouTube…” on the “Share” menu and you’ll be prompted for your YouTube account credentials:

quicktime-player-mac-5

The upload can take a while depending on the size of your file and speed of your connection, but it’s usually pretty fast. Then YouTube has to do some behind the scenes video format conversion which can take 30 minutes or more. Eventually, though, you’re done and your new video’s ready to view and share.

FANCY VIDEOS WITH IMOVIE

It’s fun and easy to just talk to your computer screen and know that your friends and family will be able to view it, but it’s also not too hard to launch an app like iMovie on your Mac and add titles, transitions, maybe splice in a few photos or even a background musical track, then upload that to YouTube too.

Sure, you can leave well enough alone, but I promise, if you start to work with video editing, you’ll find the editing software is easy to use and you’ll be able to create a memorable video your friends and family will love using your own creativity and the tools on your computer.

Regardless of how far you want to go with your own videos, you’ve learned that it’s really surprisingly easy to record a simple video greeting card and share it using YouTube.

Nice.

Now go and try it yourself!

———————-

Dave Taylor writes the popular Ask Dave Taylor tech support blog and has been fiddling with computers and gadgets for more years than he’s willing to admit. You have questions? He’s happy to hear from you on his site or you can join his fan club at facebook.com/askdavetaylor

Editor note: Intel has sponsored this video series.

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