How to Blur Part of a Video

If you're looking to blur out a face for an anonymous video interview, obscure some personal information in a documentary film, or blur out a logo to avoid copyright entanglements, it's easy to do with today's editing software. Below, we've outlined how to blur sections of a video clip in iMovie, Final Cut Pro X, and Windows Movie Maker.

Using iMovie (for Still Objects)

  1. Launch a project in iMovie, and then select "Preferences" from the main menu. Within the new dialog box, find the General preferences and click on "Show Advanced Tools". Then close the window. 

  2. Next, find the clip that needs a targeted blur effect, and select it so that you can see a larger version in iMovie's viewer. Then press Shift-Command-4 to use the screenshot tool, which you can use to draw around the area you'd like to blur. When you release the mouse, your computer should automatically save the screenshot to the desktop. 

  3. Open the new screenshot in your favorite image editor (i.e. Photoshop, Preview) and blur/obscure the image so that it's unrecognizable. Make sure to save the new version, and then drag it into your iMovie project, over the clip that you're trying to blur. 

  4. Now, choose "Picture in Picture" from the new menu that appears. This will allow you to place the blurred screenshot over the clip. Unlike other video editors, however, iMovie doesn't have a great solution for blurring a moving object, so this will only work if the object is motionless. For a more dynamic effect, we recommend using Final Cut Pro.

Using Final Cut Pro X

  1. First, open your project, select the desired clip, and then copy/paste it next to the original. Then, drag the copied clip above the original clip into a secondary layer, so that it matches exactly. 

  2. With the new clip selected, go to the Effects window, select "Gaussian" from the Blur tab, and then drag it onto the clip. 

  3. By default, the entire clip will look blurry, but you can go to the preview window and manipulate the blurred section just like a text box. Drag on the corners to make it smaller, and then move it over the desired area of your frame. 

  4. Now, the Gaussian blur will be enabled for the entire length of your clip. When you're happy with how it looks, press Command-S to save your work.

Using Windows Movie Maker

  1. First, open your desired project and select the Home tab. Click on the "Caption" button to create a caption text-box within the preview window. With the text box selected, choose "Wingdings" from the Font menu and then type the letter N to create small black boxes inside the caption.

  2. Next, make sure your caption box is still selected and choose "Thick" in the text "Outline size" setting, and then choose "Black" in the "Outline color" setting. This will change your caption boxes into one black mass, which you can drag anywhere on the frame to obscure something important. If you like, you can choose another color besides black, or edit the transparency in the top toolbar so that it looks more opaque. 

  3. To extend your caption for the entire clip or video, just change the "Text duration" on the top toolbar. Just like in iMovie, this technique only works if the obscured object is not moving very much. Otherwise, you'll have to create new captions that follow your object during certain sections of your clip, which can be extremely time-consuming. 

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