Welcome back to another Final Cut article. Freeze frames have a long history in the world of cinema, and it’s time you add this to your arsenal of Final Cut Pro skills. Today I will be showing you how to freeze frame in Final Cut Pro and mention some of the iconic films that use this technique.
How To Freeze Frame in Final Cut Pro
In The Timeline
- Move your skimmer to the frame you want to freeze
- Go to Edit > Add Freeze Frame (Keyboard shortcut Option + F)
Pro Tip #1:
Keep in mind that when you create a freeze frame from the timeline, it will hold all of the other edits and effects that you applied to the source clip.
Pro Tip #2:
Final Cut will automatically create a split where your skimmer is, so don’t worry about splitting it beforehand!
In The Browser
- Drag your skimmer over the exact frame that you want to freeze.
- Go to Edit > Connect Freeze Frame (Keyboard shortcut Option + F)
Pro Tip #1:
Adjust the length of your freeze frame by using the handles on either side of the clip by dragging left or right.
Pro Tip #2:
If your freeze frame was made using the browser. The clip will automatically be dropped wherever your skimmer is in your timeline. It will also always drop on top of your footage. So if you don’t want that freeze frame to replace any other footage, split your clip and then drag the freeze frame into the proper place.
Pro Tip #3:
If you plan to use voiceover under the clip, export your frame to be able to send it to your actor!
A Brief History of Freeze Framing
Freeze frames have been used in film since the early days of cinema. One of the earliest examples of a freeze frame can be found in the 1901 film “Scrooge, or Marley’s Ghost,” directed by Walter R. Booth. In this film, the character of Scrooge is frozen in mid-stride as he walks down the street, allowing the audience to get a closer look at his facial expression.
During the 1960s and 1970s, freeze frames became a popular technique in experimental and avant-garde films. Filmmakers such as Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut used freeze frames to comment on the action and draw attention to specific moments in their films. In the United States, freeze frames were used in popular films such as “Bonnie and Clyde” (1967) and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969), often to highlight moments of violence or action.
Main Reasons For Freeze Framing
Now that we know how freeze-framing came to be let’s talk about some common uses for freeze-framing.
Emphasizing a Moment
Freeze frames can be used to draw attention to a particular moment or detail in a scene. By freezing the action, the filmmaker can highlight an expression, a gesture, or a particular object in a way that might otherwise go unnoticed.
Adding Dramatic Impact
Freeze frames can be used to create a sense of dramatic impact or to heighten the tension in a scene. By pausing the action at a key moment, the filmmaker can build anticipation and create a sense of anticipation for what is to come next.
Give Some Time to Reflect
Freeze frames can give the audience a moment to process what they have just seen or to reflect on the significance of a particular event. By freezing the action, the filmmaker can create a pause in the narrative that allows the viewer to catch their breath and consider what they have just witnessed.
Breaking The Fourth Wall
Freeze frames can be used to break the fourth wall and create a sense of direct engagement with the audience. By having a character address the audience directly or by using on-screen text or graphics, the filmmaker can use freeze frames to comment on the action or to provide additional context for what is happening.
Examples of Freeze Framing in Modern Films
Thankfully, we have all been inspired by past films! Freeze frames are something we still use today and have become a staple of modern-day filmmaking. And no, I won’t be giving the example of “Freeze Frame” by John Simpson. I wasn’t going to take the easy way out. Some great examples of films that use freeze frames are, “Baby Driver” – directed by Edgar Wright, “I, Tonya” – directed by Craig Gillespie, and “The Big Short” – directed by Adam McKay.
Baby Driver uses freeze frames, particularly in the high-speed chase sequences, to give the audience a visual break. Edgar Wright is a very fast-paced filmmaker, so it’s nice to have those breaks in the action so the audience can keep up.
I, Tonya uses freeze frames to emphasize the violent attack on Nancy Kerrigan by Tonya Harding. It also uses them to show then the severe impact that had on Tonya’s life and career moving forward.
The Big Short uses freeze frames in a really powerful way. Adam McKay was aware that the average person wouldn’t be able to understand all of the jargon that goes into banking. He peels back the curtain for us, breaks that fourth wall, and uses freeze frames to explain what certain things are so that the audience can follow the story.
There are many more examples of films that use freeze frames beautifully and creatively. Hopefully, you have an idea of how freeze frames can benefit your project! As they always say, in order to break the rules, you first have to know them. So let’s jump into how to freeze-frame in Final Cut Pro.
FAQs About Freeze Frame in Final Cut Pro
Do I need to split my clip before adding a freeze frame?
No! If you are creating your freeze frame from the timeline, it is important to keep in mind that wherever your skimmer is, is where Final Cut will add the split in your clip.
What is the average length of a freeze frame?
If you create a freeze frame from the browser or timeline, it is automatically 4 seconds.
Can I change the default length of a freeze frame?
Of course, you can! Final Cut is great for allowing most things to be adjustable. Go to Final Cut Pro > Settings > Editing (Keyboard shortcut Cmd + ,) Then adjust the “Still Images” value slider.
Other Final Cut Pro Articles
Since you’re already here, I’d like you to swing by some of the other Final Cut Pro articles I wrote as they may help you.
- How to Speed Up a Clip in Final Cut Pro
- How To Export Sub Roles In Final Cut Pro
- How to Speed up the Performance of Final Cut Pro
And That’s How You Freeze Frame in Final Cut Pro!
Thank goodness Final Cut Pro makes it easy to add freeze frames to your films! You are now ready to add emphasis wherever you want in two different ways. Have you all recognized freeze frames in films? Let us know in the comments which ones are your favorites or if you have seen any of the ones I mentioned above. Happy Filmmaking!