All year you've been attending sporting events and taking action shots of your kids. What are you doing with all those photos?  Reel Stories Video can take your pictures and create a unique themed slideshow. Gather photos from other parents and highlight the team's year. Arrange a party after the season is over to watch all of those great (and not-so-great) moments. Present a copy to the coaches as a special thank you for all of their hard work!

Phone:  (630) 222-7618

Getting Started

The best way to start is with an initial consultation. We can talk on the phone, or, if you are local to the Chicago Western Suburbs, meet in person. Doing a DVD like this is a collaboration. Trying to pull all the necessary materials together, and to know what to do with them, can be a lot of work. We will work hand-in-hand with you to tell your story and make the show everything you envisioned. Your level of involvement in the process is entirely up to you. Some customers want to be very involved in all the details while others provide some basic guidance/guidelines and then ask us to use our creativity and experience to create the video.

Following proper procedures will save us both time, and will make the process of creating your Reel Stories Video as smooth as possible.

1.  Decide the theme and the type of show you would like.

Is this for a wedding, anniversary, birthday, graduation, etc.? Do you want your show to be emotional and slow-moving, or peppy and uplifting? Perhaps you would like to have a range of emotions within the show, combining different types of music to set the mood. 

2.  Think about your audience

Think about the event or occasion, who will be watching, and what they care about. Will the audience know who is on the screen? If not, think about adding captions to help identify individuals in the show. If appropriate, adding pictures of audience members helps keep them engaged and makes the show more meaningful. People like seeing themselves on screen! For example, Reel Stories Video can add a photo album style into your show to act as a “guest book” for the pictures of your wedding attendees, baby’s first visitors, etc.  See the Baby’s First Year show on our Sample Videos page for examples of how this works. If your video is a gift for grandma and grandpa, or a Mother’s Day present for mom, make sure you incorporate pictures of them with the children.

Also remember that, though every picture you take has memories and meaning attached to it, if your video is a gift, the recipient will probably not share all of these sentiments with you. No one wants to watch a 40 minute video of people they rarely know or see. While you want to preserve and share these memories, if the main audience is not in the pictures, shorter is definitely better.

3.  Choose which package you want

Use the following guidelines to help figure out your show needs:

  • 50 photos will produce a 6 to 8 minute show.
  • 100 photos will produce an 8 to 12 minute show.
  • 200 photos will produce a 17 to 23 minute show.
  • 300 photos will produce a 26 to 34 minute show

These guidelines are approximate. The total show length will depend on many factors, including the level of customization, music selections, and addition of video clips. See the Packages and Pricing page for all your Reel Stories Video choices.

4.  Gather and organize all your materials (paper photos, digital images, video clips, printed materials)

Engaging slideshows have a variety of photographs, and quality is important. Look at the quality of your picture. Is the lighting bad, is it out of focus, or is the picture grainy? While photographs can be digitally improved, the higher quality you start with, the better they will appear on screen.

The first photograph and the last photograph set the tone for your video. These are the pictures that will appear on the screen the longest, as they are typically used in menus and credits, therefore these are the photos your audience will remember most.

The same guidelines for photographs apply to video clips. While short video clips can add an extra pop to your show, too many clips, or clips that are too long, can cause the audience to quickly lose interest. Don't be afraid to use them, but make them short (10 seconds - 2 minutes on average), and use them sparingly.

Decide if you would like special captions added to any of the photos or between photos. Title slides, ending slides, section dividers, and captions can include your favorite poem, lyrics to a song, religious verse, quotes from family and friends -- anything you would like incorporated.

Decide whether you want your show to tell a story in chronological order (for example in the Baby’s First Year video), or by subject matter (see Kaylee’s Graduation sample). Childhood memories, Anniversaries, Family Histories, and Memorial videos are typically ordered chronologically, whereas Weddings, Vacations, and School Year videos are usually grouped into appropriate sections (cake cutting, first dance, etc.). If you choose to group your photos and the  order in which they appear is important, please number them within the group.

Number your hard-copy photos by placing a sticky note on the back. Do not write on the photo, as this will compromise the life expectancy of your photo. If you are providing digital files, rename each file with the number in which they will appear in the show (i.e. 027.jpg, 028.jpg). For digital pictures that will appear in groups, please include the section name along with the number in the picture name (i.e. 01_cake.jpg, 123_Vows.jpg), or organize the files into folders matching the section name.

If you would prefer to have Reel Stories Video organize your photos for you, we will be glad to do so, but because of the large amount of time involved, there is an additional fee of $0.25 per photo for this service. So, for example, if there are 200 photographs in your slideshow, it will cost an additional $50 above your package price. While we are happy to do this for you, please remember that we may make errors in chronological order. Any important changes in the order of the photos can be made during the review process.

5.  Select and organize your music

The tone of your slideshow will be set by the music you select. By mixing the type of song (slow and sentimental with upbeat/fast paced), your show can create both laughter and tears. Choose songs that have a special meaning to you. When you select a song, be sure to really listen to the lyrics, to ensure that they fit the theme of your event. You might find that you like the sound of the music, but the lyrics themselves just aren't appropriate for the video. Do you enjoy Classic Rock, or do you listen more to Country or Christian music? Deciding these things will help you choose your music.
We are happy to make suggestions for songs that we feel will best accompany your photos. If your video will be shown publicly, or is for commercial use, remember royalty-free music must be used.

The number of photos you have will determine how many songs you will need. A good rule of thumb is 5-6 seconds of song time per photo. We can usually compress or extend the transitions to make them fit the song, but we may ask you to choose more music if you just have too many photos. The number of songs typically needed is indicated in each package. See the Packages and Pricing page for more details.

If you have a group of photographs that you want to show with a specific song, please group them together (a baggie works great for this) and indicate which song you want to accompany them. If the order in which they appear within the song is important, please make sure they are numbered as such.

6.  Complete the online form on the Orders page

Fill all of the details on the Order Form. Required fields are marked with an asterisk. Please include any music choices you would like included in the show, including song title and artist, in the order you would like them to appear. If order is not important, please list this in the Additional Comments area. Also included on the form are details such as how you will be providing your materials to us, and the form of payment you will be using. A 50% deposit will be required at the time the order is placed, and production of your show will not be started until payment is recieved.

Upon receiving your order, we will contact you to discuss your show in more detail and give you an estimated completion date. Please Contact Us with any questions you have, either before or after placing your order.

7.  Send us your materials

Digital Photos & Video: If your pictures and/or video are digital, they can be burned onto a CD and mailed to us. If you're not sure how to get the digital pictures onto a CD, we will be happy to assist you. Cardboard CD mailers can be purchased at any office supply store. You may also email your photos to us at

Photo prints: Printed photos should be sent to us in a photo mailer, which can be purchased at any office supply store or the Post Office. It's critical that photos do not get bent during in transit.

Other printed materials: Other printed materials like newspaper articles, invitations, etc., should be placed on an envelope between heavy cardboard sheets to prevent damage. A photo mailer will work for these materials also.

We know the materials you send us are very personal and are important to you. Therefore, in general, we strongly suggest that all materials be sent using a service that provides a way to track packages and confirm delivery. Using the regular mail service is NOT recommended. For normal orders, the Post Office has several low-cost services that provide tracking capabilities and delivery confirmations. If you have requested rush service, you should use an overnight service like FedEx, DHL or USPS Express Mail. 

Reel Stories Video is not responsible for items that are lost in transit or arrive damaged. It is your responsibility to ensure that all materials are properly packaged to arrive safely and in a timely manner. We will notify you when the materials have been received.

All materials should be sent to:

Reel Stories Video
1222 Parkside Drive
Sugar Grove, IL  60554

If possible, make copies of your photos or the negatives, any discs containing scanned photos, and any discs containing video. While it is not common for items to be damaged or lost in the mail, photographs are irreplaceable, so be sure to have a backup. Reel Stories Video is not responsible for what happens to your photos while in the mail.

8.  We create your one-of-a-kind video, arrange a preview prior to production, and produce your DVD

Once we have received all of your materials, production on your video will begin. It will take an average of 7-10 business days to complete your show. This does not include shipping time for the finished order. Completion time depends on the schedule of current orders, the package you choose and the complexity of the order. Larger orders, those with more customization, or requiring photo scanning, cropping, or restoration require more time. You will be notified of the expected delivery date before any deposits are accepted. If you need rush service, please let us know before placing your order and we will do everything we can to process the request. Additional fees may apply.

Basic funeral memorial videos will automatically be rushed (average 24-48 hour turn-around time after receiving photos) at no extra charge. 

Once your show is complete, we will post your show on a private, password-protected page for you to preview. Only after you are totally satisfied and tell us it's ready to burn, will the final copy be produced and sent.

We ship the completed DVD back to you along with all the materials you originally sent us

Anything sent to us (photos, slides, paper media, music CDs, photo CDs, etc.) will be returned to you with your completed order. We do not keep or discard anything which is sent to us by you, and we handle your possessions with the greatest of care at all times.

10.  Enjoy the show!

Reel Stories Video will keep your project on file for a period of 12 months and you may re-order any time during that period.  You can even send your family and friends to our website to order copies for themselves! Please see the Packages and Pricing page for costs involved. Our goal is to create a video slideshow that will tug at the heartstrings, keep your audience engaged, and can be enjoyed for years to come.


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