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How to create vintage-style footage in iMovie

We show you how to use iMovie’s tweaking tools to turn back time on your Mac

There’s a fashion to process modern photographs so that they look like they were captured decades ago. Richly saturated colours are faded with tinted sepia to evoke the passing of time. This artificially induced retro look helps endow an image with a sense of romance and history that is all the rage. Thanks to iMovie’s Inspector you can use this vintage makeover trend to enhance your video clips too, especially if you’ve filmed a special occasion like a wedding or a honeymoon. By adding vintage artefacts like faded colours and film scratches, you can summon a more romantic era and imbue your freshly shot sequence with instant nostalgia. The following retro processing techniques will enhance any footage, but they’re even more effective when shooting in a romantic location like Venice, with its timeless canals and alleys. We’ll also show you how to overcome the fact that iMovie only lets you add one effect to a clip so you can create layered effects.

1: Get started

Go to File>New Project. Set Aspect Ratio to Widescreen (16:9) and drop the Frame Rate to
‘24 fps – Cinema’ to follow the tutorial. Click Create.

2: Import clips

Go to File>Import>Movies and the Vintage Source Clips folder. Tick Create new Event. Name the event. Tick Optimize Video, Copy Files and hit Import.

3: Add clips to project

Shift+click to select all the clips in the Event Browser and drag them into the Project window. Click Continue to ignore iMovie’s editing tip.

4: Aged film

Click on the first clip in the Project window and press ‘i’ to open the Clip Inspector. Click on the Aged Film effect to apply it to the clip.

5: Adjust speed

Vintage film cameras were hand cranked, causing the film to play back at a faster speed. Type 120% into the Inspector’s Speed box to evoke this effect.

6: Tweak tone

Click on the Video Inspector. Drop the Contrast to -44% to create slightly washed-out shadows. Drop the Saturation down to 79% for faded colours.

7: Adjust all clips

Click on the edited clip. Choose Edit>Copy. Click on Shot02 and then Shift+click on the last shot to select all clips. Choose Edit>Paste Adjustments>All.

8: Export movie

Go to Share>Export Movie. Tick the Large option. Click Export. Create a new project and import the edited vintage sequence back into iMovie.

9: Soften the edges

Add the edited movie to the Project window. Go to the Inspector and apply the Romantic effect. You now have two effects layered on your footage.

Click Image to Enlarge: