The goal of the video editor is to make your audience feel something. Sometimes it's an outrage, sometimes it's wonderment and in some cases, it's nostalgia. In this article, I'll discuss how to make a video look vintage.
First of all, why would you want to make your footage look vintage? There are three reasons. First, it's an artistic choice that changes the mood of the video. Second, it adds a new life to some footage that might seem too regular on its own. And third, it can empower your viewer with a feeling of déja Vu. That specific feeling of having seen the film already, although they really haven't.
The whole effect could look quite simple and quick to achieve: just apply an old-school LUT (Look Up Table) and change the colors of the video to desaturated ones. Alas, it's a bit more complicated than that. Here are 5 steps to achieve a vintage look for your video edits.
1) Desaturate your footage
Probably the most important part of making a video look vintage is desaturating it. Why? because it will make the picture look like an old film stock that was exposed for too long and then developed with chemical agents that were harsh on color reproduction (think about what you see in old family photos).
2) Screw up the white balance
It's important to make the whites look like they were filmed with an old film camera lens that was not adjusted for indoor lighting situations - your whites will look yellowish. It will even further make the footage look faded and like it was exposed too long to bright light.
The video will also look more vintage if the whites are not pure but have a pink or magenta hue. You can achieve it by tweaking the hue of the color in the highlights. Use the hue slider of your NLE software to control which white balance you want to achieve.
3) Add some noise
This step is optional but if you do use it - do it right. Analog noise hadn't been noticed by the human eye until digital video appeared because it's virtually imperceptible to the untrained eye, but it does exist and have an effect. The video signal was not that pristine back then as it is now. You can add film noise in your NLE, and replicate that vintage analog noise.
4) Consider adding some grain noise
The video will look even more vintage if it has some dust and scratches because that's what the old film looked like. But sometimes it can make it harder for a viewer to concentrate on it. You can also add some very light white balance flicker for an extra vintage feeling.
5) Vignette Effect
And finally, the last step would be to add a vignette effect to really make it like it was filmed by vintage lenses. It will make your video look like it's been shrunk and weathered by time. Just not overdo it with this effect because you don't want it to look cheesy, a very slight vignette will definitely make your video look more old-school.
So as you can see there are many more ways than just applying vintage-looking LUT's. In general, it's really important to understand how color grading works and what the old film was all about. Before making your video a more vintage look, I would recommend you to take a look at old photos and 1960-1970 films to figure out what you could make to make a similar look. It's definitely worth analyzing them when making a vintage video edit.
And that's it! If you have any other tips on how to make your video look vintage - leave a comment below and we'll discuss it.