iMovie Blur Effect Tutorial
Today I'm showing you how to blur a face in iMovie. I'm going to share with you my exact process for doing so, it can be tedious, but is rather easy, so stick with me to the end of the article to see it all come together.
How to Blur a Face in iMovie
Now, it's important to note there is no way to create the blur effect used for blurring faces inside the iMovie blur effect itself. But not to worry, I’ll walk you through exactly how you accomplish this.
So let's dive in. Looking down in our timeline, place your playhead over the first frame of the video clip you want to blur.
Next press Shift Command 4 to take a snapshot of your screen and draw a square over the face in your preview monitor. Let go, and the snapshot will be saved to your desktop.
Now we will use a photo editing application called Canva which is free to use. I’ve placed a link to Canva in the description below.
Once inside Canva navigate to create a new design, then click on Create Custom and type in the dimensions 100x100 which creates a custom canvas.
Next you’ll need to upload your screen grab, so click over here on upload and once uploaded simply drag the photo into your canvas area.
Next click on this Filter button here, drop down the Advanced settings and tweak the Blur effect settings to make your screen shot blurry. Ok then click up here to download your file, select PNG file type and download. Now this file will be in your Downloads folder.
Let’s go back into iMovie and import the graphic file. Then drag the graphic down to your timeline over the first frame of your video clip. And there you can see our blurred graphic on the screen.
Now while inside the Overlay tool, go ahead and click on this and drop down to select Picture in Picture.
Then highlight this area and type in 0 into the transition duration, now you can see our graphic on top of our video layer.
Next click over here on the Cropping tool and select Fit, to keep the graphic still, as it defaults to a zoom when first imported.
iMovie Motion Tracking with the iMovie Blur Effect
Now here is where it gets tedious. The video clip you’re looking to blur a face in is likely moving in your shot. So not only do we need to apply the blur effect we need to apply tracking so the blur follows the movement in your shot, keeping your subject blurred.
To do this we need to keyframe the action. So with your graphic layer selected, position the graphic so it sits on top of the face your blurring. Make sure your playhead is at the beginning of your clip when you're positioning the blur. You can hold down Shift to freeform size your blur to fit perfectly over the face.
Now you’ll see this small icon displayed. This is the keyframing tool. Click this icon to lay down your first keyframe.
Then using the arrow keys on your keyboard, advance the clip by pressing the right arrow key and reposition your blur, then advance the arrow key one more frame and reposition. Each time you advance the clip and reposition the blur it will automatically apply a keyframe for you.
You’ll repeat this process for the entire clip you are blurring. And the reason we’re keyframing each frame is so the blur tracks perfectly with the movement in your video. Now you could advance your clip in chunks and reposition the blur accordingly, but when you’re done the end result will look quite choppy. It’s best to keyframe each frame of video so the iMovie blur effect stays consistent throughout.
To see the end result, click the thumbnail below and scroll to the 4:20 mark in the video. As you can see the blur effect tracks with the motion throughout your shot. Perfect. Tedious but highly effective. You can repeat this process to blur out faces, license plates or anything else in the world. Watch the full iMovie Blur Effect tutorial on YouTube.
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