Slow motion is an easy effect to use, but when should we use it?  Should we use it to make otherwise bland footage look cool?  Should we do it in order to pad the length of our production?  Like many things in video, slow motion can be used with creative purpose, but when is the “right time” to use it?  Slow motion conveys a certain emotion, a heightened sense of drama.  So while you might just be doing it to make it look cool, know that the effect has certain connotations that the viewer may interpret differently.  Today, we’re going to cover how to do this effect in iMovie and Adobe Premiere CS6.

How to Create Slow Motion and Why to Use It

Slow motion is used to heighten drama, in addition to making the scene look cool.

In iMovie:

  • Select a clip in your timeline.
  • Click “Clip” in the top menu.
  • There is an option for “Slow Motion.”  Now all you have to do is figure out if you want 50, 25, or 10 percent.

Those aren’t the only options.  You can also select the clip, then:

  • Click the “i” icon just above the timeline to open the inspector window.
  • In the inspector window, you can change the duration to anything you desire.

In Premiere:

  • For standard slow motion, right-click the clip in the timeline.
  • Select “Speed/Duration.”
  • You can either change the percentage of the speed, or select a certain duration that you want.
  • You can also use “reverse clip speed” to maintain the pitch of the audio, but you probably don’t want to mess with that.
  • With the “ripple edit” tool, you can tell Premiere to push the trailing clips back so that it will make room for the clips you are making longer.
  • Press “OK” and you will have slow motion.

Bonus Slow Motion Trick!

This only works for “overcranked” footage, or footage shot at a higher frame rate than it will be played back.

  • In Premiere, you can right click on the clips you would like to play in slow motion.
  • Click “Modify.”
  • Click “Interpret Footage.”
  • This gives you some options.  You want, “Use Frame Rate from File.”
  • When you put the clip on the timeline with a lower frame rate, it will have more frames to achieve a more natural slow motion look.

Want an example of how slow motion can create drama?  Take a look at this awesome video:

If you want to do a video with some fast motion, there’s a video for that.

View The Full Video Transcript

Hey I’m Stephen Schweickart with this episode of the Reel Rebel and 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, which we talked about in this video here. 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 freakin 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 overcranked 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 framerate, 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.

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