Join Garrick Chow for an in-depth discussion in this video Adjusting the speed of clips, part of iMovie 10.0.2 Essential Training.
iMovie gives you options for increasing or decreasing the speed at which clips play back, which can be useful when you need to slow down an especially quick or brief clip to show detail. Or, to speed up a tedious clip to make time pass faster. Adjusting the speed of clips can also produce both dramatic or comedic effects, depending on the clips you apply them to. Start by selecting the clip in the timeline that you want to speed up or slow down. For this example, I have this clip in here. It's a long shot of me running across this field. I'm going to select the entire clip by Cmd+clicking it. And I'll click the plus button to add it to the end of my project.
Now, I'm just going to be using this for this example, so it doesn't really matter that it's after this credit sequence that we added previously. So, let's watch this once in real time. Alright, so, not a particularly interesting shot. But let's play with the speed a little bit. So there are a couple of ways to do this. First, with the clip selected, I'm going to come up to the Modify menu and here I'll find Slow Motion and Fast Forward. Both of these menus have default speed values you can select from. So, for example, I'll choose Fast Forward, and I'll speed it up to four times it's original speed. Which, you can see, significantly shortens it. And I'll play that.
And now I'm sprinting across the field. Now, notice that a bar has appeared on the top of the clip, and a little rabbit icon is overlayed on top of it as well. The rabbit indicates that the clip is faster than its original speed. This bar up here, called the speed editor, is useful when none of the preset speeds works for your clip. Maybe four times the speed of the clip is too slow, but eight times is too fast. So, to set a custom speed, you can just drag this handle to the right to slow down the clip, or the left to speed it up. And notice, when I drag far enough to the right, the icon on the clip changes into a turtle, letting me know that I'm now slowing down the clip from it's original speed.
Ultimately, you can click the Speed Editor, either by clicking the bar there or clicking the turtle or rabbit icon, to open up this window. And here we can choose from some preset speed changes. And these are all the same values that you can select from the Modify menu here under slow motion or fast forward, or you can enter a custom value of your own in here. If you want to set the clip back to it's original speed, just set it to 100%. Now, even though I set the speed back to 100%, I still see the speed editor on the clip. To hide it, I can just right click and choose Hide Speed Editor. Or,quicker still, use Cmd+R to hide and show the speed editor when you need it.
Now, when you're playing around with the speed, bear in mind that slowing it down or speeding it up, also slows down or speeds up the audio. If I go back to the beginning of this project. And select this clip where I'm speaking and I'll press Cmd+R to show the Speed Editor and I'll increase the speed of this clip. When I play it back, I now sound like this. Entrance to the Appalachian Trail. My destination is Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, about ten miles that way, so, I'm going to get going. Now, if that's the effect you want, that's great. But iMovie does give you the ability to preserve the pitch of the clip's audio when you adjust the speed. Just open up the Speed Editor and here check Preserve Pitch.
Let's take a listen to that. Entrance to the Appalachian trail, my destination is Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, about ten miles that way. So, I'm going to get going. So it's better, but the effect isn't going to be perfect. And how well it works depends on how drastically you sped up or slowed down the clip. It's also more noticeable when you're dealing with vocals like in this clip. But, under the right circumstances, if you're just slightly adjusting the speed, your viewers might not even notice the change. I'm going to press Shift+Option+R to set the clip back to its original speed. Let's open up the Speed Editor again. I'll uncheck Preserve Pitch and the other check box we have here is the Reverse check box, which lets you play the selected clip backwards.
>> UNKNOWN. So, playing a video in reverse is always good for a laugh, especially if it's footage of sporting events. But you may also find this effect useful at times when you say, I need to zoom out of a shot, but you only have footage where the camera zooms in. Or, maybe, you need the camera to pan left to right instead of right to left. As long as it's not a shot where somebody is speaking, you can probably get away with it. For example, I have this shot up here, of the camera zooming into this sign.
Just Cmd+click to select the whole thing. And I'll press E to add it to my project. So, here's what the clip currently looks like. But I want to zoom out of that sign. So, I'll select the clip. I'll right click to open the Speed Editor. I'll click it to reverse. We'll see how that looks. Alright, so, there are a couple of things there. Now, at the very end, we can see this car sort of driving backwards here.
So, let's trim that portion. I'll hide that car. And there's also sort of a false zoom in at the beginning. Before it starts zooming out. So, maybe we'll start right about there. Let's take a look at that. Alright, that's not too bad. So, as long as I don't use the audio and I've trimmed the clip well, anyone looking at this probably wouldn't guess that it was playing in reverse. Now, this is also a particularly shaky shot, but I'll be showing you how to stabilize shots like this later in this chapter. Now, before I forget, I'm going to go back to the beginning and turn off the Reverse option here on that clip. Make sure we're looking good there, alright.
Now, let me show you a couple more speed options. So, right now we have this still frame of me jumping over the log in this shot. I'm just going to select and delete that, and let's drag in the original footage. So, I'll just select the portion I want to drag in. Now, drag that right back to its original location. Next, I'm going to select a portion of this clip, basically the portion right before I start jumping. So remember, when you want to make a selection within the project timeline, click and hold down until you see the selection box appear. Then drag. With that selection made, I'm going to come up to the Modify menu and choose Instant Replay.
And for this, I'll go with 50%. So, what that's done, is it has taken my selection, copied it, and slowed it down by 50%. Let's take a look. There we get the slow motion replay effect. So, that's pretty fun. Now you can also customize the speed at which it plays back using the Speed Editor. So, if I wanted to slow it down even more, I could just drag that length out a little bit. And you can also edit or remove the text that it overlaid. So, if I don't want it to say instant replay or if I don't want any text there at all, I could just delete that. I'm just going to undo for now by hitting Cmd+Z. Now, with my selection still made, I come back up to Modify, and this time I'll choose Rewind, and I'll choose four times.
Let's see what that did. So, this is similar in that we get to watch the selected portion again. We also get to see the fast motion rewind before it plays again. And again, if you want to make adjustments to these, you're free to grab any of these Speed Editors to change the speed. So, those are two fun effects you can add to highlight sections of your clip. Now lastly, I want to talk a little bit about the effects of slowing down content. Generally speaking, most video footage is shot at roughly 29 frames per second. That means that for every second of footage, 29 frames appear onscreen. And that produces a smooth looking motion that most people are accustomed to. When you apply slow motion to your videos, what you're doing is reducing the number of different frames that appear each second.
Some frames are repeated, so time is stretched out and you get a slow motion effect. But the overall effect looks much choppier than real time video played back at 100%. Now, there are specialized cameras out there that shoot at faster speeds, like 60 frames per second, 120 frames per second, and even faster. For example, the iPhone 5s can shoot video at 120 frames per second. If you have an iPhone 5s or later, you might have played around with its slow motion capabilities and you've seen that the slow motion looks smooth. Because it is nearly four times the amount of frames per second as regular video.
Now, when you import iPhone footage into an iMovie event, the slow motion effects aren't automatically applied. Instead, you see the footage in real time at 120 frames per second. I have an example here on my desktop. I'm going to import that to show you. So, I'll just click Import. Drag that down here. I'm going to just import it into my AT running even, even though it's not really related, but I'll go ahead and do that. And it now appears down here. So, let's watch this in the browser once. So, it plays back in real time. But if I Cmd+click it to select the whole thing, and click the plus button to add it to the end of my project, here's what it looks like.
Now, it's probably hard to tell by watching it here, but the slow motion looks a lot smoother than slow motion applied to regular 29 frames per second clips. If you have access to the exercise files, you should drag this movie into iMovie and see it for yourself. But that's all I really wanted to point out with this. Some people wonder why slow motion looks so choppy when they play it back. And the answer is the lower frame rate. But with high speed cameras, you have more frames to work with, so you get smoother slow motion. I should also mention that you don't have to apply slow motion to the entire clip. If you only want to slow down a section of the clip, first select it and then press Shift+Option+R to set it back to 100% speed.
Just going to make this a little bit larger. Then place the play head where you want the slow motion to start. And press Cmd+B to split the clip at that location. Then do the same where you want the speed change to end. Somewhere right about there. Cmd+B and then you can apply the speed change to just that clip. I'll go with 50% here.
Now, we'll see what that looks like. I think I'll slow it down even more. Let's go with 25%. How cool is that? All right, so there we have the many options available for adjusting the speed of your clips.
- Importing video
- Organizing events
- Adding clips to a project
- Trimming and split editing
- Cropping and rotating
- Adjusting color
- Adjusting the speed of clips
- Creating movie trailers
- Adding background music and voice-over
- Sharing your movies
Skill Level Beginner
Q: This course was updated on 12/03/2014. What changed?
A: There is a new movie that covers the changes to iMovie 10.0.6. The author also updated the "Exploring the other sharing options" movie.