Monday, December 17th, 2007
Turn Family Photos into Holiday Videos with JibJab Sendables
Comedic video website JibJab now offers Starring You Sendables â€“ customized video postcards. You upload five photos of your friend’s faces, crop them with an on-website tool, and away you go.
Oh, but why use friends when you could create video greetings starring your children?
That video clip has five versions of my daughter’s face taken over the past two years. If you can handle a digital camera, you can create one for your family.
The Snowball video is free to create and send due to a 1-second sponsor name placement at the beginning.
Most of the sendables cost 30 credits, and you get 50 credits when you create your account (and you don’t provide many personal details until you buy credits). At the time of this writing, fifty additional credits cost $5. You can experiment as often as you like with the Snowball video, and the fee-based ones in preview mode.
A black-and-white video titled It’s A JibJab Life has a great take on the It’s a Wonderful Life film. It would be perfect for a new family because the end scene features a child (and your baby won’t care about not being featured in the rest of the video). My daughter, of course, loves to see herself everywhere in the Snowball clip.
Although the video creation process is fairly self-explanatory, here is an at-a-glance rundown of the cropping interface and a few tips.
Default Cropping Screen: Grab the dots from their starting positions (shown below) and move the oval to fit the face. Click the oval to add new manipulation dots.
Hint: Select photos with a straight-on excited view of your child. My photos suffered from varying lighting conditions because they span two years. Yours will look excellent if you shoot several poses in the same session specifically for your video greeting. But truth is, your relatives won’t care; they’ll just be jazzed to see the video.
Crop tightly around the face:
Hint: When I tried cropping to include my daughter’s ponytails, she was inexplicably decapitated in the Snowball video,
placing her head a couple inches to the right of her neck. Ugh! If something like that happens to you, try cropping to a traditional oval face like I did.
Click the Preview button: It will show your mistakes. Correct any odd angles and loose cropping. The Preview button is your best friend.
Mark the mouth: Some of the video characters have moving mouths similar to a ventriloquist’s dummy. You need to position the three circles so they line up with the center and two corners of the smile. Be sure to click the Preview Jaw button. It’s your second-best friend.
Hint: Select photos that feature great smiles. I thought it would be cool for
my 3-year-old daughter to be in a snowball fight with the infant
version of herself, but none of our infant photos have straight-on smiles. Straight-lipped baby photos just didn’t look good.
Be careful of open-mouth smiles that feature a lot of tongue. It’s best to mark the mouth’s mid-point vertically above the tongue, otherwise you splice the tongue and it looks weird in close-up scenes.
Adjust Head Size: Scale the head to fit the guideline markers on the screen.
JibJab makes the default head size intentionally large to be cartoonish and comical. You can resize them smaller, but without a ruler guide, you have no way to make all of the heads the same size. It’s safer to use JibJab’s sizing marks.
The photos you upload stay stored in your account unless or until you delete them. Likewise, you quickly build a library of cropped heads that you can insert into any of the videos.