Take 5: Five Tips to a Simple Film Effect

Five Tips to a Simple Film Effect

There’s no doubt about it: the film look is in, particularly in the music sequences that you find in wedding videos and music montages. There’s just something about a film effect that makes ordinary video look and feel dreamy and romantic. But there’s more to creating a classy film look than selecting a tacky pre-fab "film" filter from your editor’s pull-down menu.

The unofficial Videomaker code states that the goal of any effect is to add interest to the footage, without calling so much attention to itself that the viewer is distracted from what’s important – the content. This simple effect will add a touch of class to your next music montage. All you need to create this cool film effect is a timeline-based editing program and these five tips. Try it. I guarantee your viewers will like it.


How to Make a

DIY Green Screen

Free eBook


How to Make a

DIY Green Screen


Thanks! We will email your free eBook.

1. Black and White

The first step is to remove the color from your footage. There are several ways to do this. The simplest is to select a black and white filter from your video effects bin and drag it onto each video clip. Another option is to use your hue and saturation controls to manually remove the color from your clips.

TIP: You don’t need to remove all of the color from all of your clips. Mixing in an occasional full-color clip will add an element of interest to your montage.

2. Slow Motion

Slow motion makes an immediate and powerful impact on the feel of your footage. Click on a clip to select it, then apply a speed effect. Most apps allow you to enter a numerical percentage to adjust speed. Start by reducing the speed of your clip to around 70 percent, then render (if necessary) and watch the clip play at the new rate. Adjust the percentage slightly higher or lower until you are satisfied with the look of the clip, then apply the same rate to all of the clips in your sequence. Be aware that changing the speed of a clip will increase its duration. It is important to apply your speed effects before you trim your clips or time them to match your musical selection.

TIP: Changing the speed of a video clip will also change the speed of the audio that accompanies it, slurring and distorting the sound. To keep things sounding right, separate the audio and video before applying speed effects.

3. Jump Cuts

While we usually recommend avoiding jump cuts, in the world of film effects, they can work quite well. The trick here is to create a razor split in a clip, remove 10 frames or so, then push the clips back together. The result is a momentary "jump" in the action that simulates the look of a projected Super 8 movie. Don’t overuse this one. Keep it subtle. Start by adding a jump or two to every fifth or sixth clip. Once you get a feel for them, you can go back and add more.

4. Gamma Flickers

Small increases and decreases in brightness add depth to the movie illusion. To add a flicker of brightness, create a four- to six-frame white clip, then lay it on a track above your video. Use the rubber band controls to quickly ramp the white clip in, and back out. The goal here is to keep the peak of your ramp low so that the footage briefly looks slightly brighter, not to flash the screen fully to white. To momentarily decrease brightness, simply ramp down the level of the video clip itself (as if fading it out) then raise it back up. Only a slight decrease is necessary.

5. Letterbox

The last step in creating our simple film effect is to add a letterbox to simulate a wide screen display. Open your titler and use the box tool to draw a black rectangle, positioned to mask off the top portion of the screen. Copy, paste and reposition it to mask the bottom of the screen, then save it as a title. Now drag the letterbox graphic to your timeline and position it on a title track so that is appears as a mask over all of your footage. For a variation, draw white boxes instead of black and make them slightly transparent.

These five simple tips will get you started, but ultimately, you are the artist. Experiment with durations, opacities and speeds to create a unique film look all your own.

The Videomaker Editors are dedicated to bringing you the information you need to produce and share better video.