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iMovie '09 now gives you the ability to speed up, slow down and reverse your movie clips. Now why would you want to do that? Well, it really depends on the effect you are trying to achieve. You can use fast motion for comedic or time lapse effects, use slow motion to add drama to a shot, or to bring attention to details, and you can use the ability to play clips in reverse for times when you need a zoom in instead of a zoom out or again, for comedic purposes. The possibilities are really endless. Let's take a look at how to apply these effects. In my Aspen event, I have this shot where the camera zooms out from these yellow leaves, but maybe for the purposes of my shot, I need to have a shot where the camera zooms in but I didn't shoot anything like that. No problem. I'm going to just make a selection here, and I'll drag that clip into my project. I'll click at its popup menu and choose Clip Adjustments.
Now before you can apply speed changes to a clip, you might have to click Convert Entire Clip. Now the details of why you need to do this are bit technical, but basically it boils down to the fact that clips that aren't saved with frame based compression like H.264, MPEG 2 and MPEG 4, have to be converted into a format that supports speed changes before iMovie can change their speed. The nice thing about this is that the conversion applies to the entire clip, not just the part you drag into the project. So once you click Convert Entire Clip, you won't have to do it again, if you use another part from that same clip.
Now I see my speed and direction options and all I have to do is click Reverse. And if I play that back, you see we have a zoom in instead of a zoom out now. Notice this little rabbit icon that appears when I move my mouse over the clip. The rabbit is pointing to the left, indicating that this clip has been reversed. Let's make an adjustment. I want to slow down that zooming action a bit. So I'll grab the Speed slider, and slow that down to let's just do 50%.
Notice that length in my clip, which makes sense because now the clip is going to take longer. And again, I can instantly see the results without having to wait for any processing. So now I have a nice slower zoom happening. Notice the icon of the clip has become a turtle facing to the left, letting me know that this clip is reversed and slowed down. Now keep in mind that reversing a clip won't really work if there are say people walking in your shot, unless you are going for the effect that people doing things backwards, including walking, in which case it can often be hilarious, if you find that sort of thing funny like I do. All right, let's take a look at one more example.
Let's grab a minute or two of this mountain and clouds footage. Let's grab like a minute-and-a-half and I'll drag that into my project. Now this clip was already slightly sped up when I imported it, but that's really speed it up some more so we can see those clouds just move across the sky. Again, I'll click the Clip's popup menu, choose Clip Adjustments, and again I have to convert this clip, let's go ahead and do that. All right, and let's crank the speed up of this clip to all the way to 800%, and as you can see that significantly shortens the clip and let's play that.
So now I have this great dramatic time lapse shot. And again, since this effect is applied in real-time, you can play with the Speed slider all you want until you get the clip at the speed you want. Notice that the icon in the clip is a rabbit pointing to the right, indicating this clip is not reversed, but sped up. So it's always easy to quickly see if the clip has been sped up, slowed down or reversed, just by moving your mouse over the clip and checking out its icon. I also want to point out that in addition to the Speed slider, you can also type in a duration in seconds in the field below the percentage. This can help you to time the length of the clip to music, or to fit it within in an allotted of time period.
So that's how you adjust the speed and direction of your clips in iMovie '09. You probably won't use this ability all the time, but it's great to have in your collection of editing tools.
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