If video content is your jam, you’re probably constantly looking for ways to achieve that high-quality Hollywood-style look. And if you happen to be on a budget, it can be challenging because most free video editing programs come with significant limitations.
Well, good news! VSDC, the free video editor for Windows we reviewed in 2017, has released several major updates that bring plenty of value to creators. There are a new color correction toolset, new filters, and effects.
In this post, we’ll review 5 easy tricks that will make your video look more cinematic. To apply those tricks, we’ll be using the latest version of VSDC (version 6.4) – it’s available on the official developer’s website.
Now, without further ado, let’s dive right in and see how you can quickly upgrade your footage.
Add letterbox effect (cinematic black bars)
Many of us are used to the fact that Hollywood movies watched on a regular TV screen have black bars: one at the top and another one at the bottom. Although originally it was an unwanted visual “effect” caused by the format of wide movie theater screens, today many people are trying to replicate it in their videos. The reason is simple. We tend to believe that if a video is letterboxed, it must be of good quality.
Want to try applying this to your clip? In VSDC, you can quickly do it by creating black borders at the top and the bottom of a scene. Just import your video, open the Video Effects menu, go to Transparency and select Borders. Then, in the Properties window on the right, adjust the border settings: choose the “Top and bottom” position, apply black color, and increase the border size.
Here is what the result will look like:
Apply gradual zoom to make video dynamic
Zoom can be a powerful tool for focusing on a subject, making a video more dynamic if it seems too still, or creating a smooth transition. If you’ve been watching video editing tutorials, you know that some of the most popular transitions actually include zoom. Take Pan and zoom, Zoom blur, or Warp zoom as examples.
The tricky part here is to zoom in on a video gradually and focus precisely on the area you want. In VSDC, it can be conveniently done through a cropping tool.
The idea behind “zooming through cropping” is simple: you crop out the area in a video you want to zoom in and select linear parameter change over time in the Properties window. In plain English, it means that during the playback, the original video will gradually narrow its focus until the selected area takes the entire scene. Sounds exciting? Then read detailed instructions on how to zoom in on a video.
Use LUTs for quick professional-level color correction
Every video we see on big screens goes through heavy color correction during the post-production process. And it’s not just about fixing the lighting imperfections – color grading also sets the mood and convey emotions to the viewer.
Ideally, you should understand the difference between warm and cool tones and the way they change an image. But where do you start if you lack the knowledge of coloristics or have too little time?
You can use LUTs – pre-configured sets of RGB values that the software will apply to your footage to help achieve the desired look. You can think of LUTs as ready-to-use color grading settings that make a video look cinematic. LUTs are widely used in the world of videography and unlike filters, they allow for creating a more authentic effect.
VSDC comes with 10 LUTs. You can reach them via the Video Effects – Adjustments menu and preview each style before applying one to the entire video.
Achieve more depth with video overlays
Video overlays are very popular in the world of professional videography, too. In a nutshell, a video overlay is an overlap of two or more videos or images made to create a new composition.
One of the most popular examples you’ve surely seen many times is a light leaks overlay.
It is often used to create a romantic dreamy atmosphere in a video – hence its popularity for video love stories and wedding films.
And the best part is, placing a video overlay is as easy as a pie. You don’t need any video editing experience or special knowledge to be able to do that.
First, go to any stock video marketplace to download an overlay video. Many of them contain effects similar to light leaks: sparkles, smoke, snow, gleam, and more. Now, import your main video to VSDC, make a double-click on it and add the video with the overlay effect you’ve chosen. Next, go to the Blending modes menu on the left of the timeline and select Screen to get two videos blended into one composition. Voila!
Once you figure out how to apply video overlays, go ahead and try using them for transitions between scenes to achieve a smooth, seamless flow of scenes.
Experiment with stylish video distortion effects
It’s interesting how the more advanced the technology becomes, the more we start going back in time for inspiration. An excellent example of this phenomenon is the popularity of digital distortion effects used in movies, TV show intros and music videos today.
Want to hop on that trend? In VSDC, you have several built-in effects and filters to play with:
- Glitch effect
- Broken and aging TV effects
- Noise filter
Plus, you can find digital distortion overlay videos on stock video marketplaces and use them in your movies, too.
The standards of video production are shifting, and so do the expectations of the audience. In fact, today videos recorded on an iPhone have the same chances for driving attention as a clip produced with the professional equipment. And thanks to social media, more aspiring creators have an opportunity to showcase their work and get recognition.
So, if limited budget on video production was stopping you, this excuse is not valid anymore. As long as you have a smartphone and a working computer, you’ll be able to produce cinematic videos even at zero cost. We’ve just shown you how!