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How To create a retro vibe in your video – iMovie Tutorial

Use colour- and tone-tweaking video effects for a Seventies-style look

In these digital days we take it for granted that we can whip out our iPhone to capture correctly coloured clips with a healthy range of tones, especially if we’re using an iPhone 4 or new iPod touch with HD-quality recording capabilities.
However, the downside of this very consistent quality is that it can make our footage look just like everyone else’s.

By using iMovie’s colour-grading tools, you can give your movie clips a retro makeover, adding 1970s-style artefacts such as washed- out tones and garish colours. This will help your video clips look like they were captured using Seventies film or home video equipment. It may look a bit strange, but at least it will make your footage stand out from the crowd!

1: Project properties

Go to File>New project. Set Aspect Ratio to Standard (4:3) – there was no widescreen TV in the Seventies. Choose a less smooth film-like Frame Rate of 24fps.

2: Import clips

Go to File>Import>Movies. Import to a new Event. Drag the clip to the Project window. Click Don’t Change to reduce the clip’s frame rate.

3: Tweak composition

Our widescreen clip doesn’t fit into the standard-def screen. Tick the Crop icon. Reposition the green crop window to include the horse and dog. Click Done.

4: Adjust tones

Click on the clip in the Project window and Press I to open the Inspector. Click on Video. Drag Contrast to -42 to create washed-out-looking shadows.

5: Colour hue

For a warmer colour tint, drag the White Point control towards the magenta end of the spectrum. This helps to add film-like cross-processed colours to your clips.

6: Boost saturation

To create more garish colours, pop saturation up to 151%. This removes the more faithful colour reproduction of modern digital cameras.

7: Add vignette

To mimic the dramatic fall-off of light at the edge of a film camera’s frame, go to the Clip Inspector, click Video Effect and choose Vignette.

8: Export clip

You can’t add more than one effect at a time using the Inspector. To work round this constraint, go to Share>Export Movie. Tick Large. Click Export.

9: Add second effect

Go to File>Import>Movies and import the vignetted clip. Add it to the Project. You can now go to the Clip Inspector and add another filmic effect like Film Grain.

Click Image to Enlarge