Learning how to make a video collage (which closely related to the montage) is a useful skill if you're stitching together home movies, creating a music video, or just playing around with visual elements for a bit of fun. Today, the montage is so common in popular culture that it has become a cliche, first gaining a huge audience with the Rocky films and now used in almost every TV show on air.
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Although a montage is designed to show the passage of time in a condensed visual sequence, there's a similar art to making a video collage as well. Even if you're just creating a vacation video to show at a family reunion, you'll probably want to sync the visuals to the music, and use editing that flows smoothly from one clip to the next. Below, we've outlined some basic tips for how to make a video collage, without using expensive software.
Let's assume that you're not putting together a narrative montage, but rather a collage of video clips set to music. Here, the music will be providing the emotional through line for your visuals, so it helps to choose songs that suit the mood. Similarly, transitions between clips can have a huge effect on the overall flow. We recommend using dissolves for unrelated clips, and quick cuts for clips that work together as a coherent sequence.
Start by dragging your desired music to the video editor timeline, and then creating markers on every downbeat, so you have a general guideline of where to cut the video clips. It's best to vary your cuts, so that the audience doesn't start to anticipate them. Extending some of your clips for two bars can help with this.
If you're using software that has a skimming feature (like Final Cut Pro), it can be extremely helpful to use when searching for clips that sync with the music. It's also a good rule of thumb to choose clips that flow well into one another. For example, if you're cutting together a collage of nature clips, choose a shot of a deer looking to the left, and then a shot of campers facing the right. Even between unrelated clips, this editing technique builds a dialogue that adds nuance to your collage.
Finally, feel free to experiment with the editing process. You can try timing some cuts at unique points in the music, use some creative transitions, place the most dramatic shots at a song's climax, and much more. There are no hard-and-fast rules for editing — especially when putting together a collage — so just play around and have fun!