FCP 7: Creating a Slow Motion Effect

Posted: May 15, 2011

[ This article was first published in the October issue of
Larry's Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

Victor Aulestia wrote in asking me to describe how to create a slow-motion, black-and-white effect in Final Cut Pro.

Creating both these effects are easy, though there is a trick you need to be aware of when changing the speed of a clip.

Here’s a timeline with a shot selected the speed of which I want to change. (By the way, have I mentioned I love to take pictures of trains? Sigh. I know, it’s a personal failing.) I’ve indicated the length of the clip using two markers in the Timeline.

Choose Modify > Speed. This dialog allows you to speed up, or slowdown a clip. On most systems, a speed change from 50% (half-speed) to 200% (double-speed) will play in real-time. Greater speed changes require rendering.

Here’s the trick. Notice that when you apply a constant speed change to a clip, the duration of the clip ALWAYS changes, depending upon the speed change. Faster clips are shorter, slower clips are longer. At the same time, the audio speed also changes. Slower audio sounds deeper, faster audio sounds higher.

Notice, also, that not only did the clip get longer, but all succeeding clips got pushed down the Timeline. Most of the time, I don’t want this. So, when I want to apply a speed change to a clip, I’ll move it to the end of the Timeline, where the change in duration won’t affect anything. Then, after changing the speed of the clip, I’ll trim it to the length I need and move it back into it’s correct place in the Timeline.

To change a clip from color to black-and-white, be sure the clip remains selected on the Timeline then…

choose Effects > Video Filters > Image Control > Desaturate. This filter removes all the color from a clip.

And, ta-DA!, you are done…. Except, well, see desaturate is nice, but a romantic sepia tone would be nicer. So, with the clip still selected in the Timeline, add a second filter by choosing Effects > Video Filters > Image Control > Sepia.

The default filter settings are a trifle aggressive, so change your settings to match my illustration, then click the color tab and make the medium brown color a bit darker.

Personally, if you want warm, nostalgic romance, nothing beats a sepia-toned image. Though, um, this effect looks a lot better in a wedding video than in the video of a train.

Your thoughts are welcome


Larry Jordan & Associates, Inc
Video Editor
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