Every aspect of editing a video project has a million different tools and techniques, and speed and time are no exception. Whether you are adding slow-motion effects or shortening a video to fit a specific time frame, there’s a lot more to know than just adjusting a clips speed.
Editing time goes beyond speeding up and slowing down clips. Instructor Paul Murphy covers the most useful tools and tips for editing speed in Adobe Premiere Pro in his Adobe Video World session, The Need for Speed: Warping Time in Premiere Pro.
Read on to learn the essential know-how for mastering the speed of any video. See Murphy’s full session in the Adobe Video World Bundle available to purchase here.
1. Freeze Frames in Premiere Pro
Caption: Paul Murphy’s example of the Frame Hold
The classic freeze-frame feature allows editors to create a still image of their video, either as a fully frozen clip or combined with a segment in motion.
To turn an entire clip into a freeze-frame, move the playhead to the frame you’d like to freeze, right-click, and select Frame Hold Options. Select the box next to Hold On and change Source Timecode to Playhead to see the entire clip become frozen in time. To undo the freeze frame, reopen the Frame Hold Options and uncheck the Hold On box.
If you want to maintain some motion in the video, then end the clip with a freeze-frame, simply right-click on the clip and select Add Frame Hold. The freeze-frame will now appear as a cut in the clip, so to undo simply select and delete the cut.
If you want to have a moving clip, a freeze-frame, and then return to motion, there is also an option for that. Right-click and select Insert Frame Hold Segment. A frame hold segment will then appear on the timeline, giving you the ability to expand as needed or delete to undo.
2. Edit Speed and Duration in Premiere Pro
Caption: Speed / Duration dialog showing the Time Interpolation settings
The Speed / Duration dialog is the main feature that most editors think of when they want to edit the speed of a clip. To open, right-click on the clip you are editing and select Speed / Duration. Alternatively, use the shortcut command R or control R. Then, adjust the speed below 100% to slow the video down or above to speed it up.
When slowing down a video, Premiere Pro will insert spaces between the frames to extend the video duration. There are three options for how Premiere Pro will fill in the empty frames, the first being Frame Sampling; Premiere Pro will automatically fill in empty frames by copying the frame before it.
Caption: A video with reduced speed will create spaces between its frames. Premiere Pro will automatically fill in these spaces with one of three time interpolation methods.
For a smoother slow-motion clip, you can change the Time Interpolation setting to Frame Blending. This setting will combine adjacent frames into a single blended frame. This usually creates blurry frames, so the third setting offers another option.
The third setting is Optical Flow. With this interpolation method, Premiere Pro will create intermediate frames by averaging the two frames before and after them. This creates a more seamless slow-motion effect with less choppy and blurry frames.
The Rate Stretch Tool is also a useful tool for adjusting the speed of a clip. Click and hold the Ripple Edit Tool to bring up the box with the Rate Stretch Tool. With the tool in hand, you can now shrink and expand the clip, but instead of adjusting the in and out points, you can change the clip’s duration and speed.
3. Time Remapping in Premiere Pro
Caption: Adjusting the transition between speed keyframes
Once you have the basics down, you can begin to edit time with varying speeds and rates of transition. To begin, move the playhead to where you would like to change the speed. Select the effect badge on the clip, right-click and select Speed Keyframes. Go to the Wrench tool and check Show Video Keyframes.
In the timeline, the clip’s center white line will now represent the clip’s speed. At the middle position, the speed is set to 100%, with lower percentages slowing the video down and higher percentages speeding it up. Move the white line to manually adjust the speed.
Use the Pen Tool to add keyframes along the white line and adjust the separate segments to create varying speeds in one clip. You can also change the transition between the two speeds by dragging the keyframe marker to extend the transition time. Adjust the rate of change even more by hovering over in between the two keyframes until the blue handle icon appears. Move the handle and watch as the transitional segment changes shape in line with the altered transition speed.
4. Change Frame Rates in Premiere Pro
Caption: The export dialog with options for Time Interpolation methods for changing Frame Rate.
Frame rates are a key factor when editing the speed of a video. If the video captured is a different frame rate than the desired final frame rate, editors can adjust the rate through the export settings.
Go to Export > Media to open the export dialog. Alter the frame rate to your desired rate and find the different Time Interpolation methods in the video settings. You have the same options as before, Frame Sampling, Frame Blending, and Optical Flow, and can use this setting to choose how you want to interpolate your exported project to the correct frame rate.
When selecting the Time Interpolation setting, remember this setting will not override other interpolation done before exporting; this interpolation method will only be used if the exported video has a different frame rate than the source frame rate.
Warping time is an essential skill when editing a video. With more control over the length and speed of their clips, editors can create precisely timed videos with more interesting shots and cooler effects.
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