Using Google Photos to make instant movies from your photos

If you use Google Photos to store your photos and videos, you need to try making movies! It is drop-dead easy to make short movies complete with music that you can then share with your friends. Creating custom movies is a feature of the mobile app for Google Photos – you can only view and edit the movies on the computer/web version.

Step One: Select the photos and videos you want to be in your movie.

To make a movie from photos and videos, first select the photos and videos you want. Long-Press on the first one to get into selection mode, then you can just tap on the others. The maximum number for a movie is 50, but you’ll be more successful if you keep it closer to 20. Notice the number in the upper left.

Step 2: Tap the + and choose Movie

Step 3: Save

Your movie should play for you, and you’ll hear music. If you like what you see and hear, just tap on Save and you’re done! It really is that simple. If there are things you don’t like about it, there are several simple edits you can do before saving.

Why is my movie vertical?

About a year ago, someone at Google decided that people only use their phones for photos and videos so the best way to render the movies would be in a vertical. That’s how they look best on a phone. But, I for one, take most of my photos and videos in a horizontal (landscape) orientation. I like to look at my photos and videos on a computer or big screen TV – I hate the vertical format. So I stopped using the movie feature.

Change it to horizontal: now they give us the choice but the default is still vertical (portrait.) If you want to change it like I do, you just tap the orientation button and select Landscape.

Motion Photos make your movie come to life

On the iPhone, they’re called Live Photos. On Samsung and Pixel, they’re called Motion Photos. What it means is that, when you snap a photo, the phone captures a few seconds of video as well. Usually, when you view these photos, they just look like any other photo – a single shot. But, if you tap the pause/play button using Google Photos, you’ll see the video.

In putting together this lesson on Movie Making, I made an exciting discovery. When you use motion photos in making a movie, it automatically uses the video portion, making your movie literally come to life. Contrary to what I teach in the video below, this happens on both iOS and Android. I think it is a very recent change.

If you prefer to use the still shot of any given photo in your movie, you can tap the 3-dots to the right of the clip and select “disable Live/motion photo.”

Let me show you how

Episode 218 of our Youtube show, What Does This Button Do? was all about making movies using Google Photos. If you don’t want to watch the whole 50 minutes, you can click a ‘chapter’ heading to watch just the parts you’re interesting in.