FCP 7 Tutorial - Speed Up and Slow Down Clips


With digital media and nonlinear video editing systems like Final Cut Pro, it's easy to execute special effects that used to take hours to complete. To get slow-motion or fast-motion in the days of film cameras, you would have to raise or lower the number of frames per second you recorded, or re-photograph the film after it was processed. Now we can achieve the same results with a few clicks of a button.

This Final Cut Pro 7 tutorial will show you how to use fast and slow motion controls.

Getting Started

To get started, open up Final Cut Pro, make sure your scratch disks are set appropriately, and import a few video clips into the Browser. Now bring one of the video clips into the Timeline, play through the clip, and think about how fast you'd like the clip to appear. First I'll show you how to adjust the speed of your clip using the Change Speed feature of FCP 7.

To access the Change Speed window, go to Modify > Change Speed, or right-click (Control + Click) on the clip in your timeline.

Getting Started

Now you should see the Change Speed window. You can change the speed by adjusting either the Duration value or the Rate value. Changing the duration can be useful if you know the video clip needs to fit into a specific section of your movie. If you choose a duration longer than the original, your clip will appear slower, and if you choose a duration shorter than the original, your clip will appear sped-up.

The Rate control is pretty straight forward -the percentage represents the speed of your clip. If you want to speed your clip up to be four times as fast as the original, you'd choose 400%, and if you want your clip to be half the speed of the original, you'd choose 50%.

Change Speed: More Features

Another set of features to look out for in the Change Speed window are the speed ramping options. These are represented by the arrows next to Start and End, pictured above. The icons on the buttons represent the rate of change in speed at the Start and End of your clip. The simplest option is the first, which applies the same speed to your entire clip. The second option increases how fast your clip speeds up and the Start and End. Try applying this to your clip, and check out the results. A lot of people find that speed ramping softens the effect for the viewer, making a smoother transition between the original speed and the new speed.

Change Speed: More Features

Frame Blending is a feature that creates new frames that are weighted combinations of existing frames to make the change in speed visually smooth. This feature is handy if you shot video at a low frame rate, and are slowing down the speed -it will prevent your video clip from strobing, or having a jumpy appearance.

Scale Attributes is a feature that manages any keyframes you may have applied to your video clip. For example: if you have a video clip with a keyframed fade-in at the beginning and fade-out at the end, checking the Scale Attributes box will keep those fades at the same place in the video clip once it's sped up or down. If Scale Attributes is unchecked, the fade-in and out will remain at the specific point in time on the Timeline where they occurred initially, which means that they'll leave your clip behind or appear in the middle.

Now that you know the basics of changing speed, check out the Introducing Keyframes tutorial and to try changing speed with Keyframes!