Illustration by Ramóna Udvardi

Here’s the thing about video effects: They seem like a ton of work, but technology makes them pretty easy. Creating a time-lapse video of kids growing up over the course of a year is actually much less labor-intensive than doing the whole coordinating outfits thing, then making everyone show up to a photo shoot, then making everyone smile, then ordering the right photo card, and finally gathering addresses and stamps.


Parents strive to treat their families to amazing experiences. Catapult, in partnership with Intel, is the field guide for the modern mom, offering tech-based at-home activities that will build lasting memories.


With this project, you will create a video greeting that stands out. And you can just use pictures you already have. You will need a computer with a powerful processor that makes editing and uploads super fast, like the 8th Gen Intel® Core™ processor inside the Lenovo Yoga 920 laptop. Set your time-lapse to music and people will be moved — that’s a guarantee. Here’s are a few ways for you and your kids to make it happen:

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Gather pictures: If you want to go super simple (or if you didn’t think of this idea a year ago but still want to run with it), have your kid gather a set of photos of themselves and the family that are arranged in dated order from January through December. Go with 12, 20 or 30 — any number you’d like, really — and choose a song to make people laugh or cry or both. Use a program like Windows Movie Maker to import images, and you can have them fade or jump from one picture to the next. This method is more fun than elegant, but it still gets the desired “they grow up so fast” effect. Got more than one kid? String a few of these in a row — they’re that easy to create.

Plan ahead: If you do have some time, find a single spot for your kid (or kids) to stand each day or week or month, depending on how many photos you want to time-lapse. A blank wall works best but any same-spot-every-time habit will do the trick. You don’t have to have a tripod, but do try to find a place for your camera to sit, so that it will be at the same level and angle each time. And turn on the same lights, too. For a clean, cinematic effect, you want distance, lighting and background to match up from image to image. Here’s an example of how, even with objects moving around in the frame, a kid standing in the same spot remains the focal point.

Get your kids involved by letting them direct the shoot. They can bring in props that represent their interests or make funny faces.

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Use video: You can use short videos instead of still images if you’d like to show your children in action. Just remember that keeping them (and your camera) in the same location will help with the overall impression of growth. Watch this video of Lotte growing from 0 to 18 years in five minutes — it’s set to music but you can see how the video effect works here. Almost any video editing program will produce a quality result, but Animoto (free to download, with in-app purchases and is five dollars a month for a basic subscription) is a standout for true ease of use. Just choose a theme, upload photos or videos (you can edit them or trim within the program), add captions, pick a song, and you’re set to share.

Add some mistletoe or holly berries to the final shot to give the video a festive winter theme, and you’re done for the year! You can then upload your video to YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook (or all of them) to share with friends and family. Think of all the money you will save on stamps. And you’ve just made a valuable time capsule of your family that will last a lifetime. Happy holidays!

Melissa Walker is a mom of two, a magazine writer, and the author of 9 novels for young adults and pre-teen readers. She grew up in NC and now lives in Brooklyn, NY with her family.

This post is a sponsored collaboration between Intel and Studio@Gizmodo.

Intel, Intel Core and the Intel logo are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the U.S. and/or other countries.