Tutorial: How to Create the Old Film Look Effect for Video [ReelRebel #31]

Tutorial: How to Create the Old Film Look Effect for Video [ReelRebel #31]

When you are editing, you’re usually told to use effects sparingly since a little usually goes along way and you don’t want to overdo it.  Sometimes, however, you want a look that is not quite as subtle.  If this is the case, one option might be to utilize an effect known as the "old film" effect (old movie look, vintage film, etc...)  In this week’s Reel Rebel, Stephen gives us a tutorial on how to create the "old film" look effect in either Adobe Premier or iMovie.

Video professionals have experience in giving their film a slightly used vintage, older look.  They can make it to look natural which usually requires expensive equipment.   For those who don’t have that kind of equipment, the Old Movie effect can be a fun addition that adds an element of silliness to your clips and keep your audience engaged.

How to Create the "Old Film" Effect using iMovie

The good news is that even if you’re only used to basic editing tips, the Old Movie effect is super easy to apply and requires very minimal work.  To create it, it's a basic click and drag.

There are basically two ways to achieve this effect in iMovie:

  • Aged Film—This is an effect that is used to make your video clips look like they were filmed a long time ago and are playing on a shaky projector.
  • Film Grain--Film grain or granularity is the random optical texture of processed film due to the presence of small particles.  While film grain is a function of these particles, it is not the same thing.  It is an optical effect that can make your image grainy and appear much older than it is.

If you’re an iMovie user you simply open up the effects browser and then apply Aged Film, Film Grain, or both.  These effects will first add the “film scratches” you want.  Adding the grain will give it just the right amount of dirtiness to your footage to look more like it was shot on older film stock.

How to Create the "Old Film" Look in Adobe Premiere

If you are using Adobe Premiere, you have to do a bit more work to achieve the old film look.

  1. Acquire an Old Film overlay. Here's an old-film overlay template file for using in Adobe Premier (download here)
  2. Put your old film overlay layer above your footage in the timeline.
  3. Open the motion controls in the effects panel for that overlay.
  4. Drop down your opacity menu.
  5. In the Blend Mode select Multiply.

Additional Effects for Creating that Vintage Look

If you choose to, you can add more effects.

  • Noise effect—This doesn’t add audio.  It just gives the footage a grainy look and dirties it up a little bit.
  • Adjust the color to your liking—Old films never looked like they do now. They began in black and white; 8mm film has kind of an orange tint to it.  Use the Tint filter and adjust the settings to a color you like.
  • Change the framerate—This will depend on how old you want the footage to look.  Films now show at 24 frames per second, but older films like silent or 8 mm home videos playback was closer to 14 or 18 frames per second. Use the posterize time effect and adjust the frame rate down to what you desire.

Once you have everything there, you have the ability to tweak these options until you wind up with a result you like.  If you’re looking to make an authentic looking silent picture, aiming for an old west look, or even just transitioning from one time period to another, the old movie look may have exactly what you need.

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View The Full Video Transcript:

Hey I’m Stephen Schweickart with this episode of the Reel Rebel. Until now, our mantra has been “don’t overdo it. A little bit goes a long way. Use these effects sparingly.” Well, sometimes it’s ok to dump the whole bottle of seasoning on that steak and just enjoy it for what it is...an unhealthy meal that tastes absolutely DELICIOUS! Such is the case with our next advanced editing technique, Old Movie.

Old Movie is almost never subtle. Sure, you can use it to give your piece a slightly used vintage, older look, but getting it to look natural is better left to the professionals holed up in their fancy, $10,000 editing suites. For our purposes, old movie is a fun little effect that can add an element of silliness to your clips that can help keep your audience engaged. A little light hearted humor will be a nice break from whatever you’re trying to sell them.

And we have some good news for you folks that can’t seem to get past our basic editing tips. This effect is super easy to apply, requiring little to no work from you. Well, unless you consider clicking and dragging work, but let’s be honest, you spend more of your life with a mouse of some kind in hand at this point, am I right, so that little move should be muscle memory by now.

iMovie users simply open up the effects browser and apply Aged Film, Film Grain, or better yet, BOTH! These effects will first add the “film scratches” you want, and adding the grain will give it just the right amount of dirtiness of your footage to look more like it was shot on older film stock.

While iMovie experts gets some simple sliders to control the look of their footage, Adobe Premiere users have to do a bit more advanced work to achieve the old film look. First, and this is the hardest part, you have to acquire an Old Film overlay like the one linked to in the description. From here it’s not so tough. Put your old film overlay a layer above your footage in the timeline, open the motion controls in the effects panel for that overlay, dropdown your opacity menu, then in the Blend Mode select Multiply. PHEW! OK the hard part is over with. Now you get to pile on some more effects! We know you love doing that, don’t kid yourself. Add in the Noise effect. This doesn’t add audio, it just gives the footage a grainy look. Dirties it up a little bit. Next, adjust the color to your liking. Old films never looked like they do now. They began in black and white, 8mm film has kind of an orange tint to it, so use the Tint filter and adjust the settings to a color of your liking. Just don’t overdo it. Finally, depending on how old you want to footage to look you can change the framerate of it. Films now show at 24 frames per second, but older films like silent or 8mm home videos playback closer to 14 or 18 frames per second. Go ahead and grab the posterize time effect and adjust the framerate down to somewhere pleasing for you. Now that everything is there, you have the ability to tweak these options until the cows come home, or until you wind up with a result you like.

I said earlier that this is mostly a silly effect best used for a laugh, but if you’re looking to make an authentic looking silent picture, aiming for an old west look, or even just transitioning from one time period to another, the old movie look may have exactly what you need.

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Mark Robertson is the Founder and Publisher of ReelSEO, an online information resource dedicated to the fusion of video, technology, social media, search, and internet marketing. He is a YouTube Certified, video marketing consultant and video marketing expert, popular speaker, and considered to be a passionate leader within the online video and search marketing industries. View All Posts By -

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