How Clip Speed Works in Final Cut Pro

Clip speed refers to the play back speed of your clip. The clip speed can either be normal (what you recorded it at), slow motion or sped up. Final Cut Pro offers you two options for changing the clip speed. You can change the universal speed of the entire clip, which is called Constant Speed Change. Or, you can slow down and speed up parts within the clip which is called Variable Speed Change. If fact, with variable speed change, you can even play a clip back in reverse starting at the middle of it.

Constant Speed Change

To open the the 'Speed Window' in order to perform a constant speed change, you must select the clip you wish to change on the timeline and then go to 'Modify'-> 'Speed'. Or, you can use the key board short cut command + J. 

Here, you can see that there are two options you can change; speed and duration. Both of these options are linked together. Lower speeds of less than 100% result in a longer duration because it creates slow motion, while higher speeds result in shorter durations because the play back is in high speed. 

When changing the clips constant speed, you should choose the 'Frame Blending' option so that the play back is as smooth as possible. When manipulating the speed in an editing program, you're either adding or taking frames away from the clip. Blending the frame makes it look more natural and polished.

Variable Speed Change

Variable speed changes allow you to change the clip's speed within it. For example, you can have the clip speed up, then pause, then reverse back to the beginning, then play back in slow motion. This effect is called Time Remapping, because it requires you to alter the clip's time length.

You can turn on variable speed in the speed window, but doing that there will not give you any control over the time remapping. The best way to work with variable speed is to access the Time Remapping from the clip's motion tab in the viewer window.

You will see a list of options and a graph that illustrates the relationship between the clip's duration and speed. Right now, the clip is set to 'Constant Speed'. If you change to variable speed, then the graph turns into an 'S' shape that you can manipulate by dragging handles attached to it. Making adjustments here allows you to play your clip back at variable speeds.

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