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More often than not, when you work on a project, be it a home movie or a short film, you’ll add clips and slowly build your film. But you may not think of altering the colors and style of your work, relying on the natural lighting conditions you were presented with on the day.
But adding filters to your visuals can help set the mood just as strongly as applying a musical score. Combine the two together and you can influence your viewers, so they feel how you want them to feel--and isn’t that the whole point of filmmaking: to give those who watch your work an emotional journey? Without it, chances are they’ll engage less with your film.
But just because you can apply effects, doesn’t mean you should. Use them only when you feel such a visual change would enhance your story. If you just add a filter for the sake of it, you run the risk of degrading your film. But if you use the Dream filter for flashback sequences, for instance, it will make it easier to discern which sections are in the past and which are current.
>> iMovie'11 version 9.0.4 or later, a project in progress and/ or clips imported into an Event, a basic grasp of the interface.
Start a new project or open up an existing one. In the Projects section, double-click on a clip you’d like to alter, to reveal the Inspector window. This window has three tabs at the top labelled Clip, Video and Audio. The pre-selected section (here, we’ve used Clip) is actually the one you need. See that the Video Effect has a large button currently set to None. Click on it.
Clicking on it flips the Inspector around to reveal 19 filters to apply to your footage. Move your cursor over one of the small thumbnails to see a preview of the effect in the main viewer. This helps you decide which filter will work best for that particular shot, as you can experiment with different ones in seconds.
Click a filter to apply it instantly to your clip. The process also flips the Inspector window back to its original side. You can then play your project back with the filter applied. There’s no need to render the effect: iMovie shows you all the changes in real time. Alter other clips with different filters. You’ll be able to play them instantly.
Open up the Inspector once more. Notice that the Video Effect section bears your filter’s name. Click on it and choose another, to replace the current filter with the new one. You can’t apply multiple filters to clips unless you export modified clips and then re-import them, but that’s time-consuming. Instead, stick to one filter per clip.
You cannot tweak the effect or modify any parameters. It’s the full effect, or nothing at all. You can, however, apply the filter slowly over time. Choose a clip you’d like to apply an effect to and add it to your project. Mouse over it until you find a place where you’d like the effect to start. ≈-click there and choose Split Clip.
Reveal the Transitions section by going to Window > Transitions or by using the Command + 4 keyboard shortcut. Select the most basic one: Cross Dissolve. Drag it from the Transitions section onto your project. As you do, notice a thick green line. When that line appears between the two parts of the clip, you can cut, releasing the mouse button.
Add your filter to the second part of your clip and play back the sequence. You can alter the speed by altering the transition’s duration: double-click it in the Project to bring up its Inspector window. Change the duration, but make sure Applies to all transitions is un-ticked so as not to alter other transitions in the video.