Before the digital video-editing revolution filmmakers had to use transitions sparingly, because they were expensive and time-consuming. Celluloid editors had to optically process the dissolves or wipes between each shot and then splice the transitions back into the film reel. Video editors needed to simultaneously run two tapes from separate players and use a vision mixer to create the transition, which was then captured on the master tape in the video recorder. The beauty of non-linear apps like iMovie is the fact that you can add transitions quickly and easily. Here are some tips and techniques to reproduce retro cinematic transitions in minutes.
Step 1: Create new project
Go to File>New Project. As we’re mimicking traditional film transitions leave the Automatically add box unticked; think ‘less is more’. Click on the Create button.
Step 2: Import clips
Go to File>Import Movies. Tick Create new Event and label it ‘Cinematic Transitions’. Browse to the Transition sources folder on the cover disc and select import.
Step 3: Flip the shot
Drop Geese into the Project window and hit I to open the Clip Inspector. Click Video Effect and pick Flipped. The birds now head right, leading us into the narrative.
Step 4: Total wipe-in
Add the Ocean clip to the Project. Click on the Transitions browser (or for a shortcut hit Command+4). Now drag Wipe Right between the two clips.
Step 5: Watch your speed
The classic Hollywood-esque wipe follows the direction of the geese, but by default it’s too fast. Click on the transition’s gear icon and go to Transition Adjustments.
Step 6: Apply alteration
Extend Duration to 2:00 seconds. Untick the Applies to all transitions box, then click Done. The transition should now reflect the speed of the birds.
Step 7: Curtain raiser
Add the Sunset clip and insert a Wipe Up transition. This suitably simple transition evokes the cinema’s curtain being raised to introduce a new scene.
Step 8: Precision edit
Choose the Precision Editor from the gear icon. Drag the Sunset clip left to increase the amount of overlap, then drag the start of the transition left to lengthen duration.