Bend time and space with video speed control.

Discover the tools experts use as video speed controllers. Learn to speed up, slow down, and sequence events in your video content.

The uses of speed control.

The filmmaker’s toolbox is always expanding and growing. With that growth, it’s important to have specialized tools and knowledge to create a cohesive film. One of those tools is controlling the pace and speed at which the film moves. Slow motion, higher frame rates, fast-forwards, and rewinds all contribute to the magic of cinema.

 

Motion at the fore.

Controlling the speed of video and the motion within a scene is an important way to generate emotional responses from your audience. For instance, a slow-motion sequence can create suspense or highlight a particular event.

 

A slow-motion video sequence of dancers moving through a routine gives the audience space to focus on the movements of the dancers and the attention they pay to form. And decreased playback speed on a clip of an actor leaping to catch a ledge in a high-impact scene will prompt the audience to wonder if they’ll make it.

       

Of course, slowing things down isn’t the only option. If you advance video content at a faster pace, you’ll add a frenetic feeling — the audience doesn’t have time to catch their breath. This is a common trick in many action films. 

Frame rate and video playback.

When you’re adjusting the speed of a scene, you’re most likely playing with the frame rate. Many contemporary films are shown at 24 or 30 frames per second, meaning that the projected image is showing you 24 pictures in a single second. For YouTube videos or online videos, 30 frames per second is often the standard. These numbers can be handy to remember if you ever need to reset playback speed.

       

High-speed cinematography captures many many more frames, often up to 250 per second as you film. Thus, when played at a normal 24-frame-per-second rate like you see on TV, every action appears slowed down. The more frames captured, the slower the video will appear upon playback.

       

The inverse is also true — low-speed cinematography captures fewer than 24 frames per second and gives the footage a fast, clipping speed when played at normal rates. The Normandy beach scene in Saving Private Ryan is one example of this.

       

Either choice can be a powerful one, and there are plenty of areas in between to explore video speed control. Use clips created with time-lapse photography as an add-on to video projects to show environmental changes progressing faster than our eyes can see in real time. 

 

Learn the nuts and bolts of speed control.

If you didn’t think to shoot a scene with a high frame rate, there are other ways to create a similar effect. The beauty of using Adobe Premiere Pro as your video editor is that you can create many of the effects described above in post.

 

Time Remapping         

Premiere Pro offers speed control functionality with the Time Remapping tool, which lets you speed up, slow down, and reverse a clip, all without changing its duration. Just right click on a clip and select Show Clip Keyframes › Time Remapping › Speed. From there, you can modify the preferred speed of a clip using a handy rubber band tool. Decreasing playback speed is as easy as moving the band. 

Control speed and duration

If you don’t need the duration to remain the same and just want to speed something up or slow it down, the Speed/Duration tool is helpful. Simply right-click a clip and select Speed/Duration to increase playback speed of a clip while decreasing its duration.

       

Using this tool, you can quickly adjust both individual clips and entire sequences to meet your desired preferences. On top of that, if you want to reverse the playback of a clip, you can simply select Reverse Speed.

 

Ripple and stretch

Ripple editing and stretching tools are another way to modify the speed of a scene. There are features for adjusting audio as well.

 

  • With the Maintain Audio Pitch tool, audio pitch can be maintained in spite of speed/duration alterations
     
  • The Ripple Edit tool can help clips from overlapping or cutting each other off when speeds are changed  
     
  • The Rate Stretch tool is a speed changer that gives editors the ability to change the speed of a clip in the timeline to match a new duration

Optical Flow

One of the challenges of adding or subtracting speed from a sequence is that you might have missing frames. The Optical Flow feature in Premiere Pro analyzes individual frames and uses pixel motion estimation to create brand new frames. The overall effect is that your video looks seamless and smooth.

       

Controlling the movement and flow of your film is a valuable tool in your kit. Even if your camera equipment is limited to an iPhone or other phone camera, you can start experimenting with speed control post haste. Explore all the ways Premiere Pro (on Mac and PC) can make your video vision a reality with these video editing tips, FAQs, and tutorials.

Do more with Adobe Premiere Pro.

Make visually stunning videos virtually anywhere — for film, TV, and web.

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