Video has become the new top DIY birthday and anniversary gift. You’ve probably watched at least one from the wedding this summer or even got a request from a friend to record a short greeting for someone’s special day. We get such requests here at VideoDone weekly, and we decided to share the experience of our guests in creating their videos.

Creating a gift video will work on numerous occasions. If you are looking for a birthday gift for your boyfriend, a touching souvenir for a friend’s wedding, family anniversary or a co-worker’s goodbye party, a video greeting is an idea that everyone will love.

How to start?

It all starts with an idea. In case you don’t have one, let this list inspire you!

Idea #1. Cards with best wishes

As simple as it sounds, this idea always works if you are planning a video surprise! It is easy to prepare and does not need rigorous planning or a detailed script. Select up to 20 friends and ask them to get an A3 size paper and write down their best wishes. Try to inspire your friends to be creative and positive – and not to get too serious. By the way – this tip will work for almost all other ideas on our list. We’re not producing a dead-serious protest action or a psychological drama, are we?

Cards with best wishes

This is a scene from one of our favourite movies Love Actually.
In this scene, Mark finally expresses his secret, unrequited love for Juliet.

Hint: You can take two unexpected paths if you want to get creative. First one is to invite friends who live abroad to participate. This would increase the value of your video and give a feeling that the whole world is celebrating this special occasion.

The second one would be to ask your friends, both living locally and abroad, to invite complete strangers to take part in your idea. Image a firefighter, policeman, shop assistant or a random passer-by participating in the birthday gift for your girlfriend, for example. This would definitely be that “aww moment” when you present the video. Happiness guaranteed.

Idea #2. Talking heads

We named this idea the same way professional advertisers call their approach to filming TV ads, and you have definitely seen it. Below we have added a great example of such an ad from Apple. Luckily, you are not producing a commercial so you can twist this approach to create the most creative birthday gift ever! For starters, you can record the video in an interesting environment, like the favorite place of the birthday boy or girl. Email your friends asking to answer two questions about the hero of the video:  

  • Who is Andrew?
  • What (or whom) do you associate with Andrew?

Later on, the editor would trim the answers from those parts of the speech that match the story. Since the closing lines are always very important, you can do those yourself as the initiator of the project and adjust them to the script you had in mind. And you can always shoot some intro minutes that will show up before the actual video.

Talking heads

Jony Ive’s magical voice for Apple marketing

Hint: Be strict with the deadline and be patient. The moment you ask someone to record something, you’ll see that even the best people can be very lazy and leave everything to the last minute. Therefore, plan accordingly and make sure to follow-up. Don’t ask people to send you all the cuts they recorded. Most of us are not experienced in talking in front of the camera, so there will be lots of bad quality recordings you don’t want to waste your time watching.

Idea #3. Digitizing VHS tapes

This idea requires longer planning, but the outcome would definitely amaze you, the recipient of the gift and everyone else! It’s safe to say that we don’t usually rewatch the footage from VHS tapes and most of us don’t even have an idea of what exactly was shot some 20-30 years ago. You can convert old VHS tapes to digital, and either do a video based on them or create a whole life story from the day the person was born till today and mix the old shots with recent ones.

How to find a tape digitizing service? Google it, browse your local Craigslist or simply ask for advice on Facebook. You will probably find someone who has already done it.


Digitizing VHS tapes

This video was prepared for one of the members of (Association of Personal Photo Organizers)

Hint: Digitizing one VHS tape is not super expensive, but still comes with a price. On average, the digitized footage would cost you around £10 per hour. Depending on the tape, there can be three hours of footage on average. Math is simple – digitizing 15 tapes or 45 hours would cost you £450. You can reduce the costs in two ways at least: find a VHS player and watch the videos at home before digitizing. Or ask if the video conversion office offers this service at their place. Finally, you can digitize the tapes yourself, but it takes quite a lot of specific knowledge and special equipment.

Idea #4. Record a popular song cover

Four years ago song Happy by Pharrell Williams was playing everywhere. It’s become one of the top picks for recording video covers with a group of people trying to repeat dance moves. Some just for fun, some for a cool birthday gift and others for promotional purposes. It’s safe to say that the hit of 2017’s happy birthday videos for friends is Despacito by Luis Fonsi. This song is not solely built around people dancing, but why not come up with your own moves?

Record a popular song cover

At the moment this video has been watched almost 6.5 mln times comparing with 968 mln views for the original version.

Hint: The smartphone in your pocket can achieve a good image, but having a professional videographer by your side would save you a headache. Still, creating something with your own hands is rewarding. To ensure your image is not shaky you can rent a camera stabilizer called OSMO by DJI. Unless your hobby is to film a lot, it’s definitely a good idea to get one. It comes at a retail price of £428 on Amazon, but you can cut the costs by renting it for a few days.

Editing your footage

You’re halfway to getting your awesome video ready! When the raw footage is done, you have two options. The first one is to edit the video yourself. There are lots of tools out there to get it done, but it requires either the right skill set and knowledge or spending lots of time on learning it.

Alternatively, you can outsource your footage to us.

Here at VideoDone, we do all the tedious work for you. We collect your footage in a way similar to how Dropbox works. Later on, you can leave comments next to each shot ensuring that your personal editor makes the video exactly the way you want it.

Sign-up today and use code WEAREYOURFRIENDS to get 10% off your birthday gift video and see a rewarding smile on the face of your friend, family member or colleague when you show them your video!

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