Create a Gorgeous Video Slideshow with Photos, Text, and Music – A Step-by-Step Tutorial

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In this post, I'm going to show you the step-by-step instructions for creating high quality, emotionally captivating slideshow video using photos, text, and music.

It'll be just like a recipe.

I'm going to show you everything from start to finish.

Can you show me what you're going to help me create?

Here's a slideshow video I created for a photography client of mine… I used this software called Animoto.

In this tutorial, I'm going to show you exactly how I made this video so you can make one for yourself.

Why would I want to make a video slideshow?

A video slideshow is great for personal events like weddings (and wedding rehearsals), funerals/celebration of life events, retirement parties, anniversaries, birthday parties, vacations, and graduations.

They also make fantastic gifts for mothers/fathers day (don't forget grandparents day!), Christmas and religious holidays, anniversaries, and birthdays.

And other practical uses such as for school projects, lectures for teachers, sales videos for businesses, social media content for businesses and bloggers.

But I suck at technology, I'm not creative, don't have much time (etc.)

I know you want to make a slideshow to have the person or people watching it feel how much you love and appreciate them.

I know you want it to be awesome.

I can tell you that I have never regretted creating and sharing slideshows for special events and for the people I love.

It's quite common for people to watch these videos and cry tears of joy or to be speechless out of appreciation.

And I want YOU to feel that good.

To create something beautiful, and meaningful and to share it with loved ones.

I am here to help you create the kind of slideshow that will make you look great, and your audience feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

And I've made this tutorial to make sure technology, lack of creativity or bad execution will not get in your way.

You can do this!!

One. Step. At. A. Time.

With the right tool in our hands, we will build something great and have a lot of fun doing it.

That tool (and my favorite slideshow video creation software) is…


They have a FREE trial which will allow you to follow this tutorial and if you decide to sign up for a paid account, remember to enter the special coupon code Oakley15Off at checkout to get a 15% discount on a new account.

What's so good about Animoto?

I use Animoto because it's very easy to make really awesome looking videos – quickly.

They have great style templates, a huge library of license-free music, and a customer support team that's ready to help you out if you need it.

I'm amazed at what I have created with Animoto – retirement videos, wedding videos, client videos for my photography business, Mothers Day and birthday videos, and even a couple of touching slideshow videos for funerals.

And I can't wait for you to be amazed at your creation too! Now, let's build you a gorgeous slideshow video…

Step 1 – Go to Animoto's website

Go to Animoto

Remember, you can go through this entire course and create your own slideshow video for free.

You'll just have an Animoto watermark on the final video.

And if you want to get rid of that watermark at the end, remember to use my special coupon code I have for you if you want to pay for an account.

15% off coupon code: Oakley15Off

Step 2 – Click the “Getting Started” button

Right in the middle of the Animoto website is a Getting Started button. Go ahead and click on that sucker.

Step 1 - Animoto Getting Started

Step 3 – Create your new account (for free)

Enter your email address or use your Facebook profile to create your free Animoto account.

No credit card required.

Step 4 – Personalize your experience

Animoto wants to tailor it's product to your needs.

They cater to pro photographers, businesses, educators….and personal use.

Let's assume you're just wanting to use Animoto for personal use to create a nice family slideshow.

So choose that and let's move on. There really is no wrong answer here.

Setup Wizard

Step 5 – Choose “Slideshow Video”

Since we are making a personal slideshow for a family event or gift, just choose “Slideshow Video”.

The Marketing Videos are awesome too.

But not what we need right now.

That's for another tutorial.

Animoto Slideshow

Step 5 – Choose the video style

OK. This is where it gets fun!

Animoto's designers have created many wonderful, high-quality video templates.

You get to browse around and pick the one that best fits the mood for your event or gift.

One of my favorite styles is called “Rustic” and it's what I used to create the video above.

Feel free to browse around and look at the different samples.

And pick the one you want to try out.

It's important to know that you can always change the style later on as you work on your slideshow project.

So don't feel any pressure to get it right the first time.

And you can also create multiple copies of your slideshow using different video styles so you can play around and see what fits best.

Why not pick Rustic for now and we can move on with the tutorial.

4 - Animoto Rustic Video Style

Step 5 – Go through the “Welcome to Animoto” walkthrough (or skip it)

Animoto wants to guide you around the slideshow dashboard.

You may choose “Start” to go through this tour or you can skip it.

Either way, I'll see you on the other side.

5 - Welcome to Animoto Walkthrough

Step 6 – Add your photos (and vids)

OK. We're getting to the meat and potatoes now.

Let's upload your photos.

You have options here.

You can either drag ‘n drop files from your desktop like this…

…or you can grab photos from a 3rd party source like Facebook, SmugMug (link to my tutorial on how to build a photography website with SmugMug), Instagram, DropBox, Flickr, or Lightroom like this…

6 - Add Photos from 3rd Party

Let's stop for a second and answer some questions about images.

Do I have to add photos and videos from one source?

No. You can mix and match from different sources.

You can add, delete and move photos around as you please.

What resolution should my images be so they look their best?

Animoto recommends the images are sized so that the longest edge is at least 2048 pixels.

Click here for more information about image size and resolution, video and audio (music) formats.

You definitely don't want your images to look blurry because their resolution is too small.

Got more questions?

Check out Animoto's FAQ page.

Step 7 – Add some text

This step is completely optional.

But a little text can help tell the story of your video.

For this example, I'm going to add a title.

7 - Animoto Add Text

You can also add captions to some or all of the photos. Up to you!

Step 8 – Move stuff around

Any item can be moved. Images, videos or text.

It's as simple as drag'n and drop'n!

You see I moved my “Title” slide up to the front of the slideshow, where it should be…

8 - Move things around

Step 9 – Spotlight (highlight) key photos

Another optional step, you may want to highlight your best photos.

To do this you use the Spotlight feature.

Spotlight tells Animoto's algorithms to make these particular photos (or videos or text) to stand out from the rest.

That could mean adding more time on that photo before transitioning away.

And it could mean Animoto tries to fill the entire screen with that image.

You can spotlight as many photos, videos and/or text that you wish.

Step 10 – Change the music

“Music is emotion. It has the power to supercharge the emotion in your images.” – Roy Ashen, Founder of Triple Scoop Music.

Animoto has over 500 songs to choose from (with the personal plan and more for the pro and business plans).

And they are all license-free.

So you can rest assured knowing that you have copy-write permission (through your Animoto account) to use the music and share your videos anywhere you please (Facebook, YouTube, etc.)

Great. But how do I pick the right song?

Well, there is going to be some trial and error for that.

Obviously you want to pick a song that matches the mood of the slideshow and the event or occasion for the slideshow.

You don't want your funeral slideshow video song to be a punchy, up-beat pop song.

Or maybe you do.

I'll leave that decision to you.

Fortunately, Animoto helps you narrow your search down by different categories:

  • Popularity
  • Mood
  • Genre
  • Instrumental/Vocal
  • Tempo

So just dive in and sample some of the music…

10 - Pick the music

I suggest you save the ones you like so you can find it again in “My Favorites”…

10a - Save Favorite Music

For my video, I found one I really like by Ryan Huston called “This Life”.

If you want to use that song, just do a search for “This Life”.

The search bar is a bit hidden.

It's way down at the bottom of the filter options on the left.

What if I want to upload a song?

Yep. You can do that too.

If it's music you wrote and recorded, sweet!

But if it's someone else's songs, make sure you are aware of Animoto's upload terms.

You must have copy-write permission to use someone else's song.

And if you try to cheat that, Facebook and YouTube robots may find it and delete your video for violating their terms.

More music tips and information here and here.

Step 11 – Preview your new video

OK. At any point in this process, you can hit that preview button and have a look at what your creation looks and sounds like.

Just keep in mind that this is a low-resolution version of your slideshow and is intended to help you make decisions on style, images, text, and music before you finally hit the publish button.

11 - Preview Video

At this point you can “continue editing” and make changes to your video.

But at some point you'll be happy with your creation and you'll be read to hit that big o' PRODUCE button.

Let's do it!

Step 12 – Produce your video

When you hit the “Produce” button you'll get to a screen where you can title your video and give other information.

Pro tip: make sure you click on the 720p and/or 1080p video quality check-boxes on the right.

720p is what you want for all your online sharing of your video so that all your images are HD and sharp!

1080p is the highest quality video that you can get.

And it's available to download if you want to share or view it as a file.

12 - Produce Video

Step 13 – Get rid of that watermark

With your free trial, you can make as many Animoto videos as you like.

For as long as you want.

But (and of course, there's a but)…there will be an Animoto watermark on your videos.

So let's pay for a subscription and get rid of that watermark.

12 - Remove the Watermark

Which plan should I get? 

It really depends.

Here are some things to consider:

  • The Personal plan is fine, but a bit limited in styles and music. And all of the videos will end with Animoto's logo (but no watermark).
  • The Professional plan opens up some more options for design and music and allows you to get rid of the Animoto logo at the end of the video. (My recommendation)
  • The Business plan is for…..businesses. :) You need this one if your videos are being sold to other businesses (i.e. you're getting paid by a business to create marketing videos for them)
  • If you plan on making just this ONE video, then get a monthly subscription and remember to cancel it after a month. Whatever videos you make in that month will have the watermark removed indefinitely. But once your paid subscription lapses, any new videos you make will have the watermark on it.
  • If you think this slideshow video thing is awesome and you now want to make videos for all your vacations and special events then you should get an Annual Account – which is cheaper than going month to month.

Which plan do you have?

I started with a monthly Professional account because my first video was for a photography client.

Then I canceled my account after the month was up.

But a couple of months later I wanted to make a slideshow video for a funeral of a close family friend. 

I again got a monthly account and then canceled.

Next came Mothers Day.

By now I was seeing a trend.

I loved making these videos and there were lots of occasions in my life where I wanted to make one.

And I was also thinking of making marketing videos for my business.

So now I have an annual Professional account.

Step 14 – Enter this special promo code at checkout to save 15%

Be sure to use this exclusive coupon code Oakley15Off at checkout to save 15% on your annual subscription or your first monthly subscription.

13 - Enter Promo Code

Step 15 – Share your creation

I know you're excited to share your creation.

So let's do it!

You can send it to any of your social media accounts, embed it on your blog, share it on YouTube, or send it via email.

14 Share your creation

Please remember to share your video project with me!

Just copy/paste your link in the comment section below.

I can't wait to see it!

But, but, but….I have more questions!

That's cool.

My photos are transitioning too fast. Can I slow down the pacing?

Yes, you can generally adjust the pacing of the slideshow video by adjusting the Image Pacing under the music settings.

And if you want one particular image to last longer, remember you can use the spotlight feature which will do just that.

Learn more about pacing.

I want to do a looooong slideshow, can I add another song to keep it going?

Yes! Under your images in the dashboard click on the “Add Another Song” option.

Anything else that might be helpful?

The Animoto blog is full of inspiration and tips and I highly recommend you check it out.

They had a content for Mothers Day that inspired my daughter and me to create a Mothers Day video as her gift to her mom.


You betcha.

Animoto blog posts that may interest you…

Don't forget…

Use that special coupon code Oakley15Off at checkout to get 15% off your new account with Animoto.

Have fun making amazing slideshow videos!

Ryan Oakley

P.S. Did you enjoy this tutorial? Please let me know if the comments below, give it a “like” and share with your friends!

P.P.S Got a question for me? Ask me in the comments.

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