Tutorial: How to Reverse a Clip in Adobe Premiere Pro CC (2019)

February 6, 2019 6 min read

Whether you need edit a video loop for social media, to correct a smooth cut in your narrative feature, or to land the perfect camera move for a corporate video, you’ll need to know how to reverse a clip in Adobe Premiere Pro CC.

While there are a ton of reasons why you might reverse a piece of footage, typically they fall into one of two categories: style and function. We’ll start with the basic how-to and then dive deeper into some effects and more ways reversing a clip in Premiere Pro can help you correct an edit or land the perfect shot. To start off, let’s look at the difference between a flip and playing the clip backward.

Part 1: Ways to Reverse Clips in Premiere Pro

Use the Flip Effect

The first method the reverse your footage is with a flip. The footage still plays in a forward motion, but the position of the clip is reflected across an axis so the subject appears on the opposite side of the frame. This tool is typically used to match one clip to another.

For example, if you have a long shot of a train moving left to right, and you’re cutting to a close up of the same train, to preserve continuity, it’s important that in both shots, the train is moving left to right. If your shots are moving in opposite directions for some reason, it’s simple to correct this with a flip.

Let’s cut together clips of a butterfly and a cat, both facing the right side of the frame. In this cut, it appears as though the cat is sneaking up on the butterfly.

We might prefer a friendlier cut, however, of the two animals facing each other as though they’re having a conversation. We can flip one of the clips:

Step 1: Add the Horizontal Flip effect

To flip a clip, locate the Horizontal Flip effect (just search for it!) in the Effects panel.

Step 2: Drag the effect onto the clip

Drag the effect to the clip you want to flip. Your clip will now be mirrored in the opposite direction.

Horizontal Flip Effect

Play the Video Backward

Using the second method, you actually play the video backward. For instance, a person walking forwards will be walking backward after applying the effect. Using this technique, the clip of this skateboarder will move in reverse. Check it out:

Step 1: Adjust Speed/Duration on a clip

To do this in Premiere Pro, right-click the clip and choose Speed/Duration.

Speed/Duration

Step 2: Check the Reverse Speed box

Once the Speed/Duration dialog box pops up, you’ll want to check the option that says Reverse Speed.

Reverse Speed

Part 2: Get Creative with Reverse Effects

The popularity of video on social media means that there are more use cases than ever to reverse video clips. Let’s look at a couple of examples — the Boomerang and Rewind effects.

Boomerang Effect

Popularized by the Boomerang by Instagram app, a Boomerang is a short video that plays forward and backward on loop, and the effect is extremely popular on social media. Creating a Boomerang in Adobe Premiere Pro has the huge benefit of allowing you to choose a precise moment in existing footage (perhaps stock!) to work with. Plus, the power of Premiere is right there to add further pizazz to your project as you wish.

Check out this example created using this clip.

Step 1: Trim your clip to the 1-2 seconds you want to loop

To begin, trim your clip to the 1-2 seconds you want to loop.

Step 2: Duplicate the clip on the timeline

Duplicate it by option + dragging (Mac) or alt + dragging (PC) so you have another clip need to the original on the timeline.

Step 3: Reverse the second clip

To create a boomerang effect, you’ll need to reverse the second clip.

Step 4: Duplicate the original and reversed clips

Select and duplicate both the original (forward) and duplicate (reversed) clips on the timeline. Create about 10 seconds of content on the timeline (or your preferred duration for the boomerang effect).

Boomerang Effect

Rewind Effect

Another fun way to reverse footage is with a Rewind effect. This effect simulates a VHS player rewinding a tape. It’s handy for YouTube videos where you demo something the wrong way and then “rewind” before showing the correct way, or as a narrative tool when a character tells a story out of order.

Here’s an example of the effect using this clip.

Step 1: Reverse the clip

Start by duplicating the clip you want to rewind. Reverse the second clip, as though you’re creating a Boomerang.

Step 2: Increase the clip speed

In the Speed/Duration controls, increase the speed of the clip by typing in a percentage. You can experiment, but around 300% should do the trick.

Step 3: Reverse speed

In the same Speed/Duration controls box, ensure that the option to Reverse Speed is checked.

Reverse speed controls

Step 4: Add a black video clip to the timeline

Choose File > New > Black Video and add the black video clip to your timeline right above the reversed clip.

Step 5: Apply the Noise effect

Find the Noise effect in the Effects panel and drag it to the black video clip.

Step 6: Customize the Noise effect

In the Effect Controls panel, uncheck Clip Result Values and adjust the amount of noise until you’re happy with the look. It’s up to you if you want to use color noise!

Noise Effects

Step 7: Add the Wave Warp effect

Next you’ll break up that solid block of noise. Add the Wave Warp effect to the black video clip.

Step 8: Adjust the Wave Warp type and direction

In the Effect Controls panel, set the Wave Type to Sawtooth. Set the Direction to 180 to make the lines more horizontal and play with the Wave Height and Wave Width until you’re happy with the look.

Wave Warp

Step 9: Add an Adjustment Layer

Choose File > New > Adjustment Layer. Drag the adjustment layer over the second clip. Add the Noise and Wave Warp effects to this layer too.

Step 10: Customize the final look by adjusting the Noise parameters

Adjust the Noise parameters to your liking, and this time set the Wave Type to Smooth Noise. Again, adjust the Wave Height and Wave Width until it looks good to you. Set the Pinning to All Edges to make sure the video isn’t pulling in from the edges as you warp.

Add an Adjustment Layer

Creating this effect from scratch is a fun and free way to get the exact look you want, but if you prefer a shortcut, just snag our preset!

Part 3: Beyond Effects – Functional Reasons to Reverse Footage in Adobe Premiere

Video editors are reversing clips in Adobe Premiere more than you might think. Earlier we mentioned the example of reversing a clip to match your cut to another clip. Sometimes you might even shoot with the intention of reversing later.

For instance, if you’re creating a tricky handheld or dolly shot where both the camera and subject are moving, it can be hard to land the shot with your subject in focus. If you set up the shot backwards, you can reverse it later and get that perfect landing. Check out this video an example, and more practical use cases to reverse a clip.

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In short, if you edit video for any reason — corporate, social, or narrative — at some point you’re going to need to reverse a clip in Adobe Premiere. Luckily, reversing footage is super simple, and full of possibilities from the fun to the functional.

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