Creating the Group Hug montage

Once you have most of the videos you're expecting to receive, or you simply want to preview what the final montage will look like, you'll want to create your Group Hug montage.

What Does It Look Like?

To create your montage, VidHug software joins your videos, back-to-back in the order you've specified, including a half-second cross-fade effect. It does so on top of a colorful backdrop (in cases where the hug doesn't cover the full screen) and includes an animated intro and optional animated outro, with optional background music throughout. The volume of each hug in the video is also normalized. This means that hugs with quiet talking in them should be made easier to hear.

The video is in landscape orientation at a 720p HD resolution. VidHugs often contain videos recorded in both portrait and landscape orientations, which means that landscape videos will show take up more of the screen, while portrait videos will have larger black bars to maintain their aspect ratio.

How Long Does It Take?

Group Hug creation is 100% automated. There are no humans involved in the editing process. This means that you can start the process at any time and it will begin immediately. However, we do not recommend leaving Group Hug creation until the last moment. In fact, since you can repeat the process several times, we recommend giving it a try with time to spare and then updating it when more videos arrive.

The Group Hug section shows an estimate of how long the creation of the montage will take. How long Group Hug creation takes depends on the length of your video. A 5-minute Group Hug will take about 15 minutes to create, while a 30-minute Group Hug could take just over an hour.

The estimate is usually accurate within plus or minus 10 minutes. In the rare scenario that the rendering is taking much longer than promised (e.g. 30 minutes more than the estimate), please contact us if we haven't already reached out.

Creating the Montage

To get started, navigate to the Group Hug section of your Group Hug dashboard.

Note: The Group Hug section will not be interactive until you have at least 2 videos listed in your Hugs section (it wouldn't be much of a montage, otherwise!).

Clicking Create my Group Hug will open a dialog that lets you customize the montage, step-by-step.

Step 1: Order the Videos

The first step is to make sure that you've sorted your videos in the order you want them to appear in the montage. If you need to do this, press Cancel to return to the dashboard and then re-order the hugs. When you're ready to proceed, you can press Next on this dialog. 

Step 2: Background & Intro

The next step allows you to customize the intro (the short lead-in that appears at the start of the video), as well as the colorful background for the montage.

First, pick the theme color from the available selections. The background will be a checkered pattern based on that color. Next, decide whether you want faces from people in the video to appear during the intro (and optional outro). You can see an example of this earlier in the article - it can be a fun way to start the video. However, if you want to keep all of the faces a surprise until they appear later on in the video, you can set Show Faces? to no.

Note: Face detection is done automatically and while it works in most cases, it does not detect all faces and, in rare cases will misinterpret some other object as a human face (resulting in one of the "faces" containing an image that does not have a face in it). Unfortunately, we cannot correct this. If it happens, you can decide to proceed with a small blemish, or re-do with Show Faces? turned off.

Lastly, enter between 1 and 3 lines of text to show during the intro. The text will appear, line by line, with each line replacing the previous one, in a hand-writing animation. The length of the text is limited by the width of the video. It should only contain regular text and not emojis or other special graphics. When you're satisfied with your Intro choices, press Next.

Step 3: Outro

The montage Outro is just like the Intro, except that it is optional (if Show Outro? is set to No, the montage will simply fade to black at the end) and that you can choose different text from the introduction. When you've chosen your Outro settings, click Next to proceed.

Step 4: Background Music

You have the option of including an instrumental background music track in your montage. If you set Add background music? to Yes, you'll be able to select from a number of songs using the Song dropdown. Once selected, you'll be able to listen to the song to make sure you like it. You can filter by Mood and or Instrument to narrow down the selections. 

The music will be normal volume during the Intro and Outro and then faded to a low background volume while the hugs are playing (so that voices can be heard!).

Step 5: Review your choices

The final step of the process is simply to review the choices that you've made. 

If there's something you'd like to change, simply press Back to navigate to the correction. If everything looks good, press Create to start your Group Hug montage creation!

Note: Once started, Group Hug creation cannot be canceled. So make sure you've set it up the way you want! If you need to re-do things, you definitely can, but you'll need to wait until this render has finished to re-start the process.

With your request placed, one of VidHug's servers will start working on your montage immediately. Since the rendering is happening in the cloud and not on your device, you are free to close your browser window or tab and come back later; no need to wait. When the montage creation has finished, we'll send you a notification e-mail:

Clicking Check it out! will take you to your Group Hug dashboard, where the finished video is now displayed in the Group Hug section.

In this section, you (and only you) can watch the montage video. You are also provided with a Shareable Link To Video, which is unlisted, but publicly viewable by anyone you share it with. This is the link you would send to anyone you want to watch the video. 

There is also a button to Download the entire montage as a .mp4 file to watch offline. The file will likely be hundreds of megabytes in size.

The E-mail Submitters button lets you know how many people that submitted videos included their e-mail address, in the hopes that you would share the final video with them. Clicking this button will open your default e-mail client and let you compose a group e-mail to send them the shareable link to the video.

Lastly, the Re-do my Group Hug button allows you to re-do the montage creation process, in case you want to change something about the montage, or simply because you received more videos to include.

Upcoming Features

At VidHug, we believe that the most important ingredient for a great surprise montage video is the people. Happy faces and heartfelt messages should be front and center and that's what we focus on. That said, the possibilities in video editing are endless and our ultimate goal is to continue improving our automated Group Hug montage creation, while at the same time keeping things simple. We never want to be a product for advanced or "power" users only. Here are a few of the montage features that aren't available yet, but we're actively working on:

  • Trimming and rotating individual videos
  • Silencing background music for individual videos

If you have any more suggestions for things you'd like to see in VidHug montages, let us know!

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