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Bear 99th Birthday
Remembering last year’s 99th Birthday party

Last year we celebrated my mother-in-law’s 99th birthday at a restaurant with a few tables of family, relatives and friends. We ate walnut shrimp, sticky rice chicken, fish and long life noodles. It was a great meal and celebration.

During our Pandemic Period at home, we cannot throw big parties. We could not throw a big party to celebrate my mother-in-law’s big 100 year old birthday! We wanted to do a celebration to commemorate such a happy and blessed event.

My wife decided we needed to do a video/slideshow with relatives and friends submitting short videos or a picture to express their birthday wishes.

We looked at the different apps which generate a combined video like VidHug. She noticed it did have editable components to trim clips, add music etc. See below is the link.


There is a charge with a maximum of 50 minutes. 50 minutes should be more than sufficient. Consider whether your audience will want to sit for 50 minutes to watch a home video.

Being a profession photographer, my pictures are not altered on my blog. I want to test my skills as a photographer and do not want to show an altered picture. I love genuine photographs.

I purchased Photoshop Elements 2020 and use this software to add my watermarks. I utilize Photoshop to help friends fix their pictures. Any professional photographer does need to use Photoshop on occasion.

Therefore since we already had this software, my wife decided why not use what we already have.

It took us time to learn how to use Photoshop Elements Premiere to create a combination of pictures and videos into a video.

I hope our “lessons learned” will help others to create great memories during our pandemic times at home

In the beginning, my wife sent an email to groups of relatives and friends. There were perhaps about 30-40 individuals notified. We could have sent out more emails but thought we should try to limit to people we meet with during our pandemic Zoom gatherings.

Our email requested either a short and sweet video or a picture with a greeting. If the person could not add the message to a picture, we volunteered to edit the picture to add the message. Of course, everyone has their own ideas how they would contribute to the production.

Adobe Premiere Elements has a few options to create a production

  • Video Story
  • Instant Movie
  • Video Collage

We initially tried to use Video Story.

On the left of the Video Story screen, the user can add “Story Assets”. Load pictures and videos by hitting “+ Add Media”. Load a few pictures or videos just to try “Video Story”. Do a sample to see if this will work with your pictures and videos.

If you want to add text to a video or picture, do this separately in Photoshop or Premiere and save another file. Then add the edited file to the Video Story.

Hit “File” from the top menu and select “New Video Story” to start. Select the Video Story that fits your occasion.

The Video story will load with music and designated chapters.

Drag the “Story Assets” to the appropriate chapters on the right. You can play a chapter by hitting the “right” arrow on the left of the Chapter designation.

This is easy to do if you find a video story template you can use.

You can also further edit the video story if hit “Export to Timeline” on the bottom right of the screen. This will take you to an editor to do more intricate work.

When we tried “Video Story”, there were picture shots which were cropped incorrectly in the generated movie. Some face head shots were cut out by the software. The transitions in the generated video were not always correct in shots.

You probably can edit the clips which incorrectly crop in the timeline editor. But we did not attempt to edit the generated video.

Due to our time constraints, we decided not to continue using “Video Story”.

We decided to use the Timeline Editor and manually add our pictures and videos by selecting “Add Media” on the top left of the screen.

We also tried “Instant Movie”. It is another template which has frames and music for themes. We did not think the themes in “Instant Movie” fit our Birthday celebration.

In conclusion, we manually added our photos and videos in the “Timeline Editor”. This allowed us control of how the frames would appear.

Stay tune to the other features we added to our video production and the lessons we learned.

Our goal was to produce a fun production to celebrate. So far the reviews by our viewers were good.

Most importantly, my mother-in-law was extremely happy watching the video. She was very engaged and interacted with the videos and pictures as she watched.

The video provided a way we could celebrate a wonderful occasion remotely with the people in our life. Our senior neighbors, who are mostly confined at home, were so excited to watch this video. They felt as if they were able to participate in a party, as they watched the video give birthday wishes.

Make great memories even during a pandemic!

A great video is a fun way to party!