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.