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How To Apply Aged Film Look to Video in Final Cut Pro 6 (Written Tutorial With Video Preview)

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Published on Feb 2, 2010

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Recently, I learned first hand that Super 8 film, while incredibly beautiful, is not incredibly dependable. So, rather than delve into a pool of misery, as I naturally resolved to do, I figured that it is worth while to learn how to apply aged film effects to video, and share it here with you. That way those of us who can't afford to purchase film when we completely mess up our exposures and have to re-shoot everything will have an alternative to turn to....

From my own experimentation in Final Cut Pro 6, I have learned to create this effect in about 7 steps. It is important to apply the filters in the order they are presented; applying them in a different order will have different effects on the look of the video.

So...

1. Select the clip in the Sequence and click Modify → Speed (or right click/control click the clip in the sequence to bring up the speed adjuster).

Old cameras shot film at different frame rates. Super 8 cameras would shoot at 12, 18 and 24 frames per second, unlike some video cameras that shoot at 30 frames per second. Adjusting the speed so that it is a little slower, somewhere between 60% and 80%, will add authenticity to the overall look.

2. Video Filters → Blur → Gaussian Blur

Play around with the various settings within Gaussian blur. The Blue Gaussian blur setting will have a totally different look than the Red Gaussian blur setting. I like to start off with about the radius at about 2 on the Luminance blur, personally.

3. Video Filters → Stylize → Add Noise

First, I drop the amount down to .14, then change the type to Gaussian Noise (Film Grain) which is a uniform color. Last, change the Blend Mode to Subtract, which creates a more subtle effect.

4. Video Filters → Color Correction → Color Corrector 3-Way

Play around with the different levels of Black, Midrange, Highlight and Color controls. I like to warm up the look of video, which naturally has a natural light/blueish tinge to it by bringing the color into the direction of reds, oranges, yellows or sepias. It takes a little experimenting to see what looks best.

5. Video Filters → Video → Flicker Filter

Turn the amount up to Flickr Filter (Max).

6. Video Filters → Video → Strobe

This will add the choppy, less smooth look of film (video is too smooth, which is one of the things that gives it away as video). I usually bring the Strobe Duration down to 1 or 2.

After this, there are a variety of other things you can do. Maybe adjust the RGB Balance (Color Correction → RGB Balance) or play around with the various Levels (Image Control → Levels). I find that altering the Arithmetic (Channel → Arithmetic) can bring about some really cool color effects.

After you are satisfied, the final step after rendering is to go to File → Export → Using Quicktime Conversion.

Click on the "Options" button in the first window that pops up. Here you can click "Filter" which will bring you to Movie Settings. Click "Special Effects" , then "Film Noise" and you will be able to adjust the levels of Hairs, Scratches, Dust and Fading on the "film". Different levels will have very different affects on the final product. Play with different levels to achieve your desired look.

This is only one of the many techniques that are available to create an aged film look for video. I personally am still learning, and there is still a lot I don't know about the intricacies of Final Cut Pro 6. If you have any tips or advice on the subject, or know of another way to create this effect, please email me at kavi.xiu@gmail.com.

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