Change clip speed

In Final Cut Pro you can make both constant and variable speed changes to your clips while preserving the audio’s pitch.

Note: Speed settings are applied to the specific instance of the selected clip only. They are not applied to that clip’s source media file on disk. To create a media file with the applied speed effects, export the clip as a QuickTime movie. For more information, see Share projects, clips, and ranges.

Apply a constant speed change

Applying a constant speed change to a range selection or a whole clip alters the selection’s playback speed by a uniform percentage. For example, applying a speed setting of 25 percent to the selection makes the entire selection play in slow motion.

Constant speed changes also usually alter the duration of a clip. By default, if a constant speed change causes the duration of a clip to become longer or shorter, all clips coming after it ripple forward or backward. If you change the speed to 50 percent, your clip becomes twice as long, and subsequent clips are moved to the right; if you change the speed to 200 percent, the clip becomes half as long, and subsequent clips ripple left. For example, if you set a 5-second clip to play back at 50 percent speed, Final Cut Pro adds frames to the clip so that the clip becomes 10 seconds long and plays back more slowly. If you increase the clip’s speed to 200 percent, Final Cut Pro removes frames and the clip plays back in only 2.5 seconds.

Clip in Timeline, and then same clip appearing twice as long after 50 percent speed is applied
  1. In the Timeline, select a range, a whole clip, or a group of clips whose speed you want to change.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • To apply a preset speed setting: Choose Slow or Fast from the Retime pop-up menu in the toolbar (shown below), and choose a speed from the submenu.

      Retime pop-up menu in toolbar
    • To apply a manual speed setting: Choose Show Retime Editor from the Retime pop-up menu (or press Command-R) to display the Retime Editor above the selection in the Timeline, and drag the retiming handle.

      If you drag the retiming handle to the right, the speed of the selection decreases, the duration of the selection increases, and the bar above the Timeline selection turns orange.

      Retime Editor above clip in Timeline, with retiming handle being dragged left to create slow motion and bar above selection appearing orange

      If you drag the retiming handle to the left, the speed of the selection increases, the duration of the selection decreases, and the bar above the Timeline selection turns blue.

      Retime Editor above clip in Timeline, with retiming handle being dragged right to create fast motion and bar above selection appearing blue
    • To apply a custom speed setting: Choose Custom from the Retime pop-up menu, and in the Custom Speed window that opens, select a direction (forward or reverse) and enter a rate or duration.

Apply a constant speed change without rippling the sequence

You can also create speed changes that don’t cause the downstream clips to ripple. In this case, if you slow down a clip (which ordinarily makes the clip longer), the clip remains at its current length, but a shorter piece of the action will be seen. For example, if you slowed a 5-second shot of a football being thrown and caught to 50 percent, you would see the ball being thrown (slowly), but because the action would now take twice as long, the clip would end before the ball was caught.

Note: If there is a gap to the right of a clip that is being slowed down, the clip’s duration is lengthened to cover the gap.

When a clip is sped up, the duration of the clip is shortened and a gap fills the space between the changed clip and the remainder of the project.

  1. In the Timeline, select a range, a whole clip, or a group of clips whose speed you want to change.

  2. Choose Custom from the Retime pop-up menu in the toolbar.

    Retime pop-up menu in toolbar
  3. Select a direction (Forward or Reverse), deselect the Ripple checkbox, and type a percentage in the Rate field.

    Timeline showing Custom Speed options above selected clip
  4. Press Return.

    The speed effect is applied to the clip, and the rest of the project remains in place.

Preserve audio pitch in retimed clips

By default, Final Cut Pro is set to preserve the audio pitch of a clip that has been retimed. However, if you want to accentuate the retiming adjustment’s effect by allowing the pitch to change in accordance with the retiming adjustment, you can turn this feature off.

  1. In the Timeline, select a range, a whole clip, or a group of clips whose speed you plan to change.

  2. Choose Preserve Pitch from the Retime pop-up menu in the toolbar.

    Retime pop-up menu in toolbar

    A checkmark to the left of the command name indicates that Preserve Pitch is turned on. Choose Preserve Pitch again to turn it off.

Conform a clip’s speed to match the project’s speed

If you’ve applied speed effects using your camera, the native speed of the source media may not match the native speed of the source media for the rest of the clips in your project in the Timeline. However, you can change the clip with the differing native speed to match the rest of the clips in the Timeline.

  1. In the Timeline, select the clip whose speed you want to change to match the rest of the clips in your project.

  2. Choose Automatic Speed from the Retime pop-up menu in the toolbar.

    Retime pop-up menu in toolbar

Smooth out a slow-motion clip with video quality presets

To smooth out the apparent motion of a clip playing back in slow motion, you can apply frame blending or optical flow analysis to the retimed clip.

Note: Final Cut Pro 10.2 uses an improved optical flow algorithm that can accommodate a wider range of source footage. Any new projects created with Final Cut Pro 10.2 will benefit from these improvements (if they include an optical flow video quality setting). If you have projects created in earlier versions of Final Cut Pro that have optical flow settings, you can reanalyze them for improved quality by choosing Optical Flow in step 2 below.

  1. In the Timeline, select a range, a whole clip, or a group of clips whose video quality you want to change.

  2. Click the Retime pop-up menu in the toolbar, choose Video Quality, and choose a setting from the submenu.

    Retime pop-up menu in toolbar
    • Normal: The default setting. Frames are duplicated, and no frame blending is applied to the slow-motion clip. No rendering is required.

    • Frame Blending: Adds in-between frames by blending individual pixels of neighboring frames. Slow-motion clips created with Frame Blending appear to play back more smoothly than those created with the Normal (duplication) setting. Rendering is required.

    • Optical Flow: Adds in-between frames using an optical flow algorithm, which analyzes the clip to determine the directional movement of pixels and then draws portions of the new frames based on the optical flow analysis. Rendering is required. Only the portion of the clip used in the project (the media between the clip start and end points) is analyzed.

    Tip: Before using Optical Flow, try using Frame Blending and experiment with various slow-motion settings until you’re satisfied with the speed. Then, if you see artifacts or want the very best image quality, try using Optical Flow.