We are back for another Final Cut Pro: How To tutorial. This technique has gained popularity, and I am excited to share how simple it is and give examples from movies we know and love. Today I will show you how to speed up a clip in Final Cut Pro, also known as speed ramping. 

How to Speed Up a Clip in Final Cut Pro

What is Speed Ramping?

Speed ramping Final Cut Pro is a film technique that we have seen a lot of over the years. It involves changing the speed of a clip or sequence by speeding up or slowing down the footage in post-production. 

When is it Helpful?

Speed ramping can be used in many ways in film, from action sequences to emotional scenes. The sky is the limit! For example, action films use it a lot to emphasize the intensity of a fight or chase sequence by slowing down the action at key moments, then speeding it up again. This can create tension and excitement for the viewer, making the scene more impactful. It might seem obvious, but little tricks like this can make all the difference for your viewer.

It’s not just for action scenes, though! In emotional scenes, speed ramping can be used to highlight a specific moment or feeling. A great example is a slow-motion shot of a character’s face can be used to emphasize their emotional state, or a fast-paced sequence of clips can be used to show the chaos and confusion of a moment.

If that’s not enough, speed ramping can also be used to create transitions between scenes by slowing down the end of one scene and speeding up the beginning of the next. This makes a smooth transition that keeps the viewer engaged and helps to move the story forward.

On top of using speed ramping for different genres, you can also use it to manipulate time, creating a sense of distortion or time dilation. By slowing down or speeding up footage, filmmakers can create a sense of time moving faster or slower than usual, which can be used to emphasize different emotions or moments in the film.

Examples of Speed Ramping

The Matrix

The Matrix (1999), written and directed by Lana and Lily Wachowski, uses speed ramping to the opposite effect in the iconic bullet scene. Neo, played by Keanu Reeves, bends backward, warding off bullets from one of the agents. Don’t tell me you didn’t try this after you saw it.

How To Speed Up A Clip in Final Cut Pro: The Matrix

Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), directed by George Miller, uses speed ramping throughout the entire movie but particularly in the high-speed chases. This is a useful technique when it comes to stunt-heavy scenes. Not only does it add more suspense, but it also keeps your actors and stunt people safer because they can run those scenes at a slower pace. And we are all for keeping our cast and crew safe!

How To Speed Up A Clip in Final Cut Pro: Mad Max Fury Road

Everything Everywhere All At Once

Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022), directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, uses speed ramping in the IRS building when Waymond Wang, placed by Ke Huy Quan, defeats the IRS security with nothing but a fanny pack. This comedic scene, edited by oscar award-winning Paul Rogers, is a great example of how to use speed ramping in clever and innovative ways.

How To Speed Up A Clip in Final Cut Pro: Everything Everywhere All At Once

How To Speed Up A Clip in Final Cut Pro

A word of caution before using this feature! If you want to get really nuanced with adjusting speed in any editing software, it’s important to know that you must plan for this while you are shooting! It is definitely important to test this out before your whole scene is dependent on speed ramping in post. Test it out on a few clips of something random and see the effects. It will drastically shorten your clip, and you may have to adjust your camera to shoot more frames or leave extra room on the front or back end. So before there are high stakes, please make sure you practice! 

This technique, albeit the opposite, is also used for slowing down footage. Have you ever wondered how music videos are in slow motion, but the words still match the pace of the song? All it is is speed-ramping the song while you are on set and shooting at a higher frame rate so you can slow down your footage in post-production! As stated before, this is a technique that you should practice before you spend an arm and a leg creating a project. Either way, it is a beautiful technique and is worth trying. I bring this up because slowing down your footage in Final Cut Pro is the same process as speeding it up.

How To Speed Up a Clip in Final Cut Pro

  1. Select your clip 
  2. Click the retime icon below your viewer window
How To Speed Up A Clip in Final Cut Pro: Step 1

(keyboard shortcut: Cmd + R)

  1. Select Fast and the percentage you want to speed it up, or choose Custom to set a specific speed

You can also select the arrow on your clip and go that way

How To Speed Up A Clip in Final Cut Pro: Step 2
How To Speed Up A Clip in Final Cut Pro: Step 3
How To Speed Up A Clip in Final Cut Pro: Step 4

Pro Tip #1: 

If you accidentally chose the retime editor and don’t wish to retime a clip, use the same keyboard shortcut: Cmd + R to hide the retime editor.

Pro Tip #2: 

For quick or more detailed retiming without having to start over, use the retime handle on the right side to adjust the speed.

How To Speed Up A Clip in Final Cut Pro: Pro Tip 2

I know, I couldn’t believe it was that simple, either. 

Common Questions Answered

Will my audio be affected?

Yes, it will also speed up unless you detach or expand your audio

Can I speed up parts of a clip and not the whole thing?

Of course, you can! Simply select your in and out points or split your clip for easier manipulation.

Can I adjust the speed of more than one clip at a time?

Yes, simply select the group of clips you wish to change, Shift + left click, or click and drag over the clips you want to change and proceed with the steps above.

More Training on Final Cut Pro

Below are some wonderful resources that I wrote on Final Cut Pro which I encourage you to go and check out.

The Final Cut

As you can see, speeding up your clip in Final Cut Pro is incredibly simple. The beauty of techniques like this is that they always look more complicated than they are. You, too, can apply this technique at any time! Let us know in the comments if this is something you wish to try, and happy filmmaking!