Suppose it all worked out great and you have nice footage that should be made into the best holiday movie ever made. You probably already saw some movies from an enthusiastic friend that were rather tough to go through. Endless scenes of the same going on and on with your friend having this Steven Spielberg view on his face and you slightly falling asleep. You better understand that there are some easy principles that can make a movie interesting for you as well as for others and just length is definitely not one. Anyway, let’s assume you have this great collection of shots, now it is time to build a great movie from that.
Simple stuff that makes the difference
Create a story for your film
A movie is not a slide-show, so try to create some kind of coherent story line. I know that it is not easy, as you will normally not tell the story of Nemo, but instead have many animals and perhaps divers to show of. Nevertheless you could start with a title, some preparation of equipment and a jump into the water. Maybe then the divers going down and then a collection of underwater shots. Even you have the footage, show shots from the same thing from different distances and angles, to kind of tell the audience: this fish lives here, it looks like that and see here an interesting detail. Some coherence will be superior to just a sequence of different shots. At the end you could think about a diver signalling to go up, an ascending diver and a view of the boat coming to pick you up. Simple stuff and creativity will definitely be needed not to get every time the same storyline, but I guess you get the picture.
Keep movie clips short
Look at a pleasant documentary of movie with a stopwatch and you will be surprised how short each shot actually is. Of course it is a matter of taste, but if not much happens in the shot, 4 seconds might already be long. If something happens, like e.g. a fish hunting you might get away with even 15 seconds, but much longer . . . well you need to find really the whale-shark that is doing a salto or otherwise you risk boring your audience. It works just much better to put 2 or 3 short shots from different angles/distances then one long one.
Forget most transitions
Simple editing programs give you dozens of options on how to let one shot go over into another, called transitions. Most of them, even more when used more, turn out to make your movie rather kitsch. Again take one time to look at a pleasant documentary of movie what they use and you will see mostly the so called hard cut. Meaning that there was no transition, simply one shot finished the next one started. There are some exceptions to this if e.g. you want to show a substantial change in the story, then you could use some fading effect and it will be ok. Anyway, rule of thumb: better use too few than too much.
Keep the whole movie short
The temptation will be there to put everything from every angle etc, but try to limit yourself if you want to make something that people actually would like to watch . . . again. Surely, your friends and family will politely sit out the move if you insist, but ask yourself when their attention moves away, when they are getting bored. Not easy nowadays to keep people interesting as all media seem to stimulate "short attention spans". If you think that your movie is exactly long enough, most likely it is too long for others.
Follow these steps and produce something nicer. Just look at the faces of your friends and family when they look at your movie and you will see the results. Some eyes closed and snoring sound? You will need some more fine tuning. Maybe shorter clips, maybe more interesting angles, maybe make the whole movie shorter. If nothing works, then maybe change friends . . . no, just joking.
For example . . . .
A few years ago someone challenged me to make a small movie that would stick to the above rules, but . . . just made in one dive. It has many issues, but all together I thought it would be nice to embed it here, as a study object. Enjoy.
At the end all this is nothing more than simply caring, common sense, anticipating, putting a tiny bit of effort and getting big results. Similar to many other things in live . . .
Hope it helped you.
Be safe, but ... dive!