Capturing Memories Forever: How and Why to Make a Digital Time Capsule

Do you remember the excitement of making your very first time capsule? Packing away a few of your things and knowing that you would be able to open them up and revisit those memories years later? It probably included some printed photographs, some special notes or art projects, and a list of your current favorites.

With digital technology, time capsules can take on a whole new life. Now, you can create a video time capsule that captures all the important moments for your friends and family to cherish in the future!

Let’s explore some creative and fun ways to create a digital time capsule…

Although your digital time capsule may (or may not) be filled with predictions of the future – it’s fun to think about all of the creative possibilities of what you can do with a video time capsule.

Here are some ideas to get started:

  1. Create a family interview: Ask your friends and family members questions about their life experiences, likes/dislikes, favorite memories, etc.
  2. Record a special event or occasion: Like a birthday party, graduation ceremony or holiday celebration.
  3. Share stories from your childhood: Relive the memories through pictures and videos of your younger self.
  4. Make predictions for the future: Have each person make predictions about where they’ll be in five, ten or twenty years from now.

Creating a digital time capsule is an excellent way to preserve important events and cherished memories for posterity. Whether you make a video time capsule or something simpler like an audio recording, the result will be a lasting memento that your friends and family can look back on for years to come.

First, Decide the Purpose of the Time Capsule

Before you start creating your time capsule, it’s important to think about the purpose of your project.

  • Who is the time capsule for? Make a list of names… you can include yourself, friends, family… and even future family members you may not even know yet (future spouses or grandchildren, for example!)
  • What is the time capsule about? Is it a memoir of your life so far, or are you capturing a moment in time to reflect on later in life?
  • Where & when will your time capsule be created? Are you going to use a video camera, and/or digital photos?
  • How many years are you going to wait to open the time capsule? 5 years? 20 years?

Creating a Digital Time Capsule with Your Smartphone

Creating your own digital time capsule has never been easier. Simply grab your smartphone or any other recording device and get started! You can record your family sharing stories and reflections about the year’s events, major milestones you’ve achieved together as well as some fun activities or hobbies.

When starting each video, make sure to capture the date, the person’s age, name, and relationship to you (yes, even if you are the one in the video!)

Here are some questions that might come in handy when making your videos:

  • What do you think have been the most important moments this year?
  • What are some of your favorite memories from _________?
  • If you were to look back on this year in ______ years, what would you want to remember?
  • What’s one thing that has brought you joy this year?
  • What have been some of the biggest challenges and lessons learned this year?
  • What is something you would like to tell your future self?
  • What do you think technology will be like in ____ years?
  • What’s something about today’s technology that you think will become outdated in ____ years?
  • If you could tell your future self one thing, what would it be?
  • Where do you do your shopping? Online, offline, where?
  • What is the last movie you watched and where did you watch it?
  • What are you looking forward to in ____ years?

Editing Your Time Capsule Files

Once you have your files, you can either use a video editor and get creative with it, or you can simply just store the files. There are a variety of online tools that people use to edit videos, and many of them are easy to learn and use.

Here are a few video editors you can get and use for free:

  • Canva
  • Clickchamp
  • Filmora

OR, you can edit the videos right on your phone using one of these tools:

  • Videoleap
  • Splice
  • Inshot
  • CapCut
  • … and so many more!

Storing Your Video Capsule

Once you have your videos edited and ready to go, you need to store them somewhere safe. There are a variety of online cloud storage solutions available, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or iCloud. It’s important to make sure that the service you choose offers enough space for all of your files.

Remembering Your Capsule

This may seem obvious, but the only thing left for you to do once your video is ready is to create a way to remember when to watch it – and make a copy (or copies) for your loved ones.

Here are some ways you can remember your time capsule:

  • Set a reminder in your digital calendar to open the time capsule at some point in the future.
  • Share a link to the video with your family and friends so they can also remind each other when it’s time.
  • Create a physical reminder
  • Create physical invitations or Save the Date for your loved ones
  • Put the video on a physical, external hard drive (like a thumb drive), and put it in a special envelope labeled with the date on it
  • Give your loved ones copies of the video with the date on it
  • Leave a copy with your Last Will & Testament OR use it when writing your own obituary 

When it comes time to open the time capsule in the future, be sure to remind those involved about what was stored on the digital time capsule so they can access it easily!

No matter how you decide to store your digital time capsule, just know that these memories will last forever.

Here are a few more resources for digital preservation: