How To Use Speed Ramping To Create Flow In Premiere Pro


When you edit a video, one of the most important things that you want to try and create is FLOW.   Now what we mean when we say “flow” the continuous movement of your video.  It’s hard to really quantify this term, because it’s something that a good video just makes you feel.  But really the end goal of creating flow (unless you have a really specific stylistic objective) is make your audience feel like the story, the visuals, the audio, are being naturally carried throughout the duration of your video.  

Think of a stream.  The flow of water is not only progressive, meaning moving forward, but it’s also directional.  It's not going any which way, but exactly where the stream boundaries take it.  There’s a specific start and end to the stream of movement and an entire journey in between.  

This is one of the reasons that transitions are so popular for creating enjoyable videos.  They help naturally take you to the next point in your video without a sudden bump or stutter to interrupt you; which is sometimes what a harsh cut can make you feel...interrupted.

This is a long introduction, so why are we talking about this?  It’s because today, we’re going to share with you one easy way to create better flow in your videos.  So get on your computer and open up Premiere, because we’re going to give your projects more flow with speed ramping!

Create A Speed Ramp

Once we’ve opened up Premiere Pro we can go ahead and place a few clips that we want in succession.  To start off, they’re all just regular speed with no transitions and they cut from one to the next.  Normally we might want to add a transition, but I don’t want to draw attention to the transition by adding something flashy, we just want to make the change from one clip to another feel more natural, more intentional, and almost invisible.  So how do we use speed ramping to do that?  Lets first open up our speed ramping capabilities for our clip box.  Right click your clip and go down to show clip keyframe > Time Remapping > Speed.

From here you’ll see that the little line in on your clip box on your timeline doesn’t stand for opacity anymore, but instead it’s representing the speed the clip is being played back at, which right now should be 100%.    Our goal for this clip is to speed it up close to the end when the cut happens between the clips, like we’re accelerating into the cut.  But if we make an adjustment to our speed at the moment, it makes the change for the entire clip and not just for the particular section we want.   

What we’re going to do is simply take the end of our clip and make a keyframe by holding ctrl (PC) or command (Mac) and clicking.  Now we can control each side of our speed keyframe independant from the other side.  So let’s raise the end bit to make it faster.   You’ll notice that your clip will move around when you change the speed.  Keep in mind that the duration of your clips will either lengthen or shorten when you make changes, but the actual point within the clip that it starts and stops at will remain the same.

Re-create And Reverse Your Speed Ramp

There’s still a problem though, our video clip just jumps into fast motion and it’s kind of jarring and doesn’t look great.  So we can ramp the speed by dragging out one of the notches of our speed keyframe on the clip box.  The farther you drag it, the more gradual the change will be.  Finally, if you want the change to be less linear and more explosive, you can take the adjustment marker in the middle of the start and end of your speed ramp and rotate it to make more of an S curve.  It’s a subtle difference, but it can make an impact to the tone you want to set for your video.

Now remember the goal for the effect that we want to have the cut happen at the height of the acceleration.  When the clip just about reaches its fastest point, that's when we want to cut.  But this is only half the story.  What we want to do next is the opposite with the next clip, we want it to start fast, and then ramp down to normal speed.  Take the exact same setup that we did for our previous clip and apply it to the beginning of the next one in reverse.  

Make It EVEN Better By Adding Sound Effects

Now technically that is the entire effect, but if we want to strive for excellence then it’s only half the battle.  Like we've mentioned before in other videos, AUDIO is key to your project. So adding a couple of sound effects can take your project miles further.  Here’s two suggestions that I would give.  Place a very subtle sound effect down as an indicator to your audience for the speed change.  Something like a whoosh or even a riser can help to sell this effect more.  If you want to make your own custom riser, check out our previous video which features it about halfway through.  

So we’re going to add in a whoosh sound effect, but we’re going to bring it down in volume so that it’s really soft.   It’s kind of what we want, but it’s really too intense even when we drop the volume down.  So we’re actually going to drop the speed of this sound effect way down (in our case to around 35%).  Your results might vary depending on what sound effect you're using.  I’m using a whoosh sound effect from Motion Array’s library.

Slowing it down make it more gradual and help it to blend in more with everything that’s going on.  We’re not trying to draw attention to the effect, we’re just trying to make it feel like it’s actually happening by giving subtle audio cues.

Lastly, we what can really help to blend these two clips together is to have sounds that remains unchanged between the two clips. Ambient noises are great for this.  Both of our example clips are set in a forest, so let’s take the ambient sound of a forest.  We’ll make it very soft as if it's in the background, and then take it and stretch it out over both sides of the cut.  This way, our audio cues are telling us that there is a connection between the two clips, like they’re happening in the same area.  Lastly, we can drop in some subtle music to give some extra character to our video.  With all that done, your final video should look, and SOUND, pretty amazing!

You’ve just learned how you add a speed ramp to your videos and how you stylize it get the most impact possible.  Congratulations!  We hope you found this video helpful. And I hope that you can see how sometimes the most simple and subtle of changes can result in the biggest impacts for your video.

All of the sound effect and music we used were from right here from Motion Array.  We’ve also got way more tutorials for premiere pro, after effects, and filmmaking in general.  Feel free to check it all out!

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