Premier Pro CC: Changing playback speed

Updated: Sep 26, 2020

a still taken from a short movie of my dog, lucky.

Being able to slow down or speed up a clip is a really useful trick in Adobe Premier Pro CC – and it’s easy. There are actually two different ways to do it.

I’m using a little clip of my dog, Lucky. He’s normally pretty swift – especially it he’s just spotted a squirrel. So what should I do if I want to slow him down?

The first option: ‘speed / duration’

the 'speed - duration' window in adobe premiere pro which is used to change video playback speed

If you right-click on the clip in the Timeline you can then choose ‘speed / duration’. You can use this window to assign a percentage of the original speed to either the whole thing, or a chunk of it. The T will expand or contract according to the number you enter. ‘50%’, for example, means the clip runs at half speed, so it gets longer in the T. So, if you’ve cut the clip into chunks using the Razor tool, you can assign a different speed to each one.

the playback settings window

In the window, there are three options for Time Interpolation’:

Frame sampling

This means that if you slow the clip down it duplicates frames, and if you speed things up, it cuts them. The clip runs at the same fps speed, but the action appears slower, or faster. Slow down the clip and put the PH over the action in the Timeline, then click on the ‘right’ button (in the timeline in the Program panel) to move the playhead along one frame. You’ll see that the image only changes every two frames.

Frame blending (if you choose this, you have to then press ‘enter’ to generate the result)

This creates a new frame that’s a combination of the two frames either side. This sometimes results in blurred action, but is usually better than frame sampling. Again, you can see what’s going on if you press the right button in the Program panel to move the playhead.

Optical flow (again, press ‘enter’ after choosing)

This creates an entirely new frame from the two either side, so it produces the smoothest result. It’s also the slowest to render!

If you cut the clip into sections with the razor tool you can assign different speeds to each section. If you do this, work on the segments from left to right or parts of the action will probably get repeated.

If you cut a clip into, for example, three sections, it’s essential to have ‘ripple edit, shifting trailing clips’ checked. Then any changes you make in the first part are more likely to be ‘balanced’ across the others. Enter ‘200’ and click OK. That part of the clip will now take twice as long to run as previously, so it’s half speed.

Audio can be set to stay at the original frequency so that even if you speed up the clip it won’t make everyone sound like chipmunks.

The second option: Time remapping

another way to change playback speed - time remapping

Make the clip slightly taller in the Timeline, then right-click on the tiny ‘fx’ icon in the top left of it and choose ‘time remapping > speed’.

a line running across the video in the timeline which can be raised or lowered to speed up or slow down the playback

A horizontal white line appears across the clip which you can drag up or down to change the playback speed. Just below it, you’ll see a percentage window telling you what speed you are changing it to.

One upside of this method is that you don’t need to cut the clip into separate chunks. One downside is that the audio remains unchanged – the length of the audio clip is neither shortened nor extended. So it can very quickly get out of synch with the video.

you can also add conversion steps to this line

If you ‘cntrl / cmnd + click’ on the white line, a marker appears. You can drag the line up or down either side of the marker, creating different speeds. A step will appear in the white line indicating the change.

a conversion step can either be abrupt, or smoothed out

1) If you click and drag to the right on the marker it splits into two parts. Between them you’ll see a transition – the white line at an angle, connecting the speed levels to the left and right. The further you drag to the right, the smoother the transition will be – but the longer it will take to play. You’ll also see a ‘handle’ in the middle of the transition zone. Click on its centre, then drag to the left or right. Dragging to the left makes the transition a straight line. Dragging to the right first turns it into a slight curve making the transition even smoother, and then into a ‘step’ making it more abrupt.

this is how the timeline appears when part of the movie is set to run backwards

2) If you ‘cntrl / cmnd + drag’ to the right on the marker you’ll see arrows between the two halves, indicating that this part of the video will run backwards.

Both options 1 and 2 divide the display into two in the Program panel to help you keep track of what's being affected in the video.

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