One of the current ds106 video assignments challenges us to return to the silent era:

The dawn of cinema had no audio; silent movies created an atmosphere with music and the use of cue cards. Take a 3-5 minute trailer of a modern movie and render it in the form of the silent era- convert to black and white, add effects to make it look antiquated, replace the audio with a musical sound track.


To complete this, I looked at several clips that could be used. I started by looking at trailers, as suggested in the assignment. I considered Jaws, Forrest Gump and Pirates of the Caribbean but I found that the trailers either contained too much talking and not enough action or jumped from one scene to the next too quickly to provide enough context. So, I decided to look for a purely action sequence. Since my previous assignment featured Quentin Tarantino, I figured that I might as well return to his work. I found a clip from Kill Bill Vol. 1 that someone posted to YouTube that already contained two fight scenes. I liked the idea of combining this modern, dark, samurai-type of film with some dixieland music. This incongruous combination appealed to me!


I have worked with iMovie quite frequently to document school events but rarely played with many of the features. I was able to easily convert the clip to black and white and sped up the film to produce what I hoped would look like a silent movie but the image still felt too crisp. I decided to Google some advice and found which I immediately added to my Flipboard! It offered easy to follow tips for making a silent movie look and, I’m hoping, will have a decent feed to follow. One tip that I found there suggested that I should not accept the default of 30 frames per second but instead reduce that to 24 to achieve a jerkier motion. It also explained that the Aged Film effect would add those vertical lines one sees on old films. However, since I had sped the film up, these lines were not visible. I decided that I should speed up the film and make it black and white and then export it. I could then re-import it and add the Aged Film effect. Worked like a charm!


My original clip was 10 minutes in length. I doubled the speed to seem more like an old movie but, at 5 minutes, it still felt too long. I am hoping that the further two minutes that I edited out are not too obvious. This is where I impressed myself most: I was surprised how seamless the final version appeared! I took out a good chunk of the first fight scene (more obvious) and several sections (mostly amputations) in the second. This allowed me to keep the video to just 3 minutes. I was pleasantly surprised with how the scenes still flowed from one another.

Disappointments/ Ideas for Next Time:

Only the Organic Main template seemed appropriate for a silent movie but the iMovie Titles are a dead give-away to the fact that one has used that software. I wish that there was an easy way to create your own. I suppose that I could have created my own and saved them as jpegs and then inserted them as photos. Maybe next assignment…

Music was a challenge. I really need to do some more audio work. I started to fool around in Garageband but didn’t find the sounds that I wanted to easily create some dixieland music so I opted for the built-in iLife jingles (Gelato, Vino and Tigris). I added these three themes to my movie and left it at that.


I may have taken some liberties with this task but I did learn more about iMovie than I knew before… if nothing else, the quick keys for splitting a clip (shift-command-s) will come in very useful in the future!

I need to remember to take some in-progress screenshots to add to these posts. In the meantime, enjoy Silent Bill.