Google Photos Assistant as a starting point

So after a recent trip to Disneyland Resort I returned with hours of video from my Canon XA10 and the GoPro, plus over a thousand photos. While At Disney I uploaded pictures to Google Photos every night, a habit I have had for years (starting with Picasa Web, which Google bought and is phasing out but still offers a few tricks that you can’t see in Photos. But if you upload to Picasa, the photos show up in Photos….Spooky.)

Anyway, this gives me a backup in case everything goes wrong, at least some pictures should survive. Good idea.

Well, Google’s Photo Assistant makes it even more fun, because it goes through what you put up and tries to get you to post something by making little videos and collages and offering them to you like a crazy media-fetching dog, random chewed up pieces from all over the place but SO CUTE!

These latest come from the round of video uploads I did after returning home. I am talking about Videos, not Stories, which I haven’t gotten into yet, mostly because I get some extraneous photos I snap on the phone (dining receipts and the like) plus it tries to identify locations which I don’t always wish to do.

Using the iPad app as an example, you open the Google Photos App, and click in the upper left (the three “hamburger” lines) then choose Assistant from the menu. You can also use Android, but you can’t edit things in the browser yet.

Next is a video I called Magical Adventures at Disney, from a beginning by the Photos Assistant and fine-tuned by me after it dug through all my uploaded video. Still wondering if there is a way to add things to the auto movie, rather than just delete items and change the in and out points — more on that in a moment.

Now the Assistant’s goal was to get you to post to Google+ which was always easy, but nowadays, of course, you can copy the link and post elsewhere, or download the video locally (on the iPad or Android at least, didn’t try the computer but seems likely) and post it where you want.

But before you do that, take a minute and fine-tune the initial version the assistant gives you. I may go into details later, but I used the iPad app, and if you click to edit the movie inside the photos app, you can rearrange the order of the media by dragging tiny icons at the bottom to enhance the flow of story and emotional impact, building tension or excitement, and ending at key points.

You can delete items, but I haven’t found a way to add others on the iPad (you can change out photos in collages using the browser but I haven’t experimented with video in the browser yet.

Also, the assistant seems to look at a single folder for media, I had created a GoPro, Canon and Disney photos category, which included a little phone media and a day of GoPro in addition to all the stills. Each little sample only grabbed from one category; it did mix pictures and video when available.

TIP: Pick some favorites and create a category so the Assistant pulls from a partially curated collection to increase your odds of getting preferred clips up front.

The software does a great job of finding faces but it doesn’t always have context, for example, it showed me video from the beginning and the end of a looping roller coaster in two separate clips. I was fine with the first, but I clicked the scissors icon to edit the start and end points of the second. My iPad slowly downloaded the whole video file, and then I tapped and dragged the selection to the the best part of the ride. I was lucky that it picked two clips from the same video clip; it doesn’t always and it let me set up the scene and then show the loop.

When done editing I clicked to save the file and then exported it to my camera roll (latest iOS9 saves it in the Video section). I did this because I don’t trust apps not to occasionally crash, and sure enough, when I clicked next to post one of these to Google, it closed the app. Sometimes that means your work is not entirely saved, but in my case, the project was and I was able to continue.

Now when I say save, I mean I saved the edit, not that I completely exited the project and clicked Save To Library. It’s fine, but once you do that, it clears the item from the Assistant list, which is where you can click to EDIT it. So don’t do that until you are done. IF YOU DO: You can find the movie in categories, click  the movie circle icon and go back in to edit, how about that, learned something new!)

Items saved to the Library end up in the Collections section, with a title, if you put one on the first page (It shows atop your first few seconds of video) and ordered by the date the media came from.

So now you know enough to get in trouble, Go do it!


  1. Inspired me to post something.
  2. Started the process but let me edit before posting so it could be a little more special and frankly just better.
  3. Kept it short (not great at that) and got me to do a faster highlight edit that I might not have bothered. Teaser trailer? Highlights? Good stuff! If the audience is still interested give them a chance to browse the whole enchilada at the end, by linking them to the source folder.
  4. Let me look at my photographic results with a different eye, in a bite size chunk instead of putting it off because there was too much to manage.
  5. Let me enjoy the show and still make it better if I wanted.
  6. Let me toss out some attempts that I didn’t find as charming.

Oh and you can jump start the Photo Assistant yourself by clicking the plus sign on the upper right of the app and choosing to

Create New:

  • Album
  • Movie
  • Story
  • Animation
  • Collage


But more on that another time.