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Weekly Video Tip: Slow Motion

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By Stephen Schweickart

I know you guys are already pros at editing. You’ve been watching all of our videos, right? Then you should be a speed demon in the editing suite, making all kinds of sweet videos. Even so, it never hurts to put another tool in your toolbox and we think you’ll be using this one all the time. It’s slow motion.

Slow motion in practice is the exact opposite of fast motion; Instead of speeding things up, you’re slowing things down. Pretty easy to wrap your head around, even for me. But instead of being used as a transitional tool like fast motion generally is, slow motion allows you to really focus on an action or event to both heighten the drama, and make it look really cool.

Look at the movie 300. Pretty much all of it is slo-mo! Slowing down time during those epic battle sequences really brings up the intensity of every swinging sword and brutal battle cry. It can really add a heaping dose of awesome to your piece without a whole lot of work.

For those of you attached at the hip to Apple, iMovie makes this effect incredibly easy to accomplish. Simply select the clip in your timeline, click ‘Clip’ in the top menu, and plain as day you can see ‘Slow Motion’. Just mouse over that, and select either 50, 25, or 10 percent to apply that speed change to your clip. You may be upset that those are the only options, but fear not. Simply select your clip and push ‘I’ to open the inspector window. Here you can change the duration of the clip to whatever you desire.

Premiere users have it almost as easy, but they have a bonus option that we’ll get into later. For standard slow motion, simply right-click on your clip in the timeline, select “Speed/Duration”, and you’re assaulted with options. From here you can either adjust the speed via the percentage option, or set a specific duration for your clip. You can also reverse the clip speed by checking that option, maintain the pitch of the audio, but probably you won’t want to do that, and you can ripple edit, which will move the trailing clips out of the way to make room for the longer clip you just created when applying the slow motion. Click OK and BOOM, you’ve got yourself some slow motion.

Now that bonus option I mentioned. This only works for over-cranked footage, or footage shot at a higher frame rate than it will be played back, but it’s a good trick to know. Import your footage, then right-click on the clips you’d like to have playback in slow motion. Then click Modify, Intepret Footage which will give you some options, but the one you need to worry about says “Use Frame Rate From File”. Now when you put that clip onto a timeline set to a lower frame rate, it will playback in slow motion and will have more frames to achieve a TRUE slow motion look.

Achieving slow motion is a pretty simple task, even if you’re using the more advanced technique in Premiere. A little preproduction goes a long way. Now, go enjoy shooting footage of yourself swinging fake swords around, slowing that footage down, and marveling at how awesome you are.

Stephen Schweickart is the co-founder of VScreen. For more information on this topic visit VScreen’s site at http://www.vscreen.com/.

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