speed_effect_in_fcp

It started off as a few posts on Twitter about the Change Speed Segment feature. It grew into a bigger conversation to whether speedramps are latest effect that ranks number one on the list of tacky 'eye candy' editing techniques. Are we right or wrong? 

Hate them, really hate them. I have refused to do them. Why? Because it seems to be the default way to jazz a piece up when the camerwork or content is less than stunning. Just because you can speed something up to 500%, slow down to normal speed, then speed back up to 500% doesn't mean to say you should. Pieces to camera delivered in the middle are particularly cringeworthy.

What makes it even more sad is the fact that camera guys are now shooting with long lead ins and tails especially for that effect! Speed changes do have a place. They should be used very sparingly. Not every other shot as demonstrated by a promo I saw run tonight on a very popular celeb dancing show. Jumping in and out of 300% on an EVS super slomo isn't attractive these days either.

I know people are going to groan, but I can give you a similar example that happened back in the eighties. The DVE or digital video effects machine became very popular. The phrase was "If in doubt flip it about" Shots would rotate, flip, squeeze, zoom or any other geometric distortion or translation possible. One BBC production here in the UK called the Clothes Show was flipping pictures everywhere. If you saw a piece to camera next to a mailbox, you knew where the next insert was going to fly in from! Looking back at clips on YouTube it makes you wonder if the effects looked good then. I was as guilty as anybody else, one benefit though it was my first encounter with the 'keyframe' concept.

So not only do speedramps look bad, they will date your piece. Imagine watching Dances with Wolves where the bison speed up & slow down. It is not a classy effect, it smacks of desperation and laziness in the goal to capture audiences with a low visual attention span. Done well it can be amazing, The Matrix with its timeslice, ah hang on, that effect is old hat now too.

OK, I've had my rant and I must admit I feel better for it. So in the interests of keeping a fair editorial balance, I have a few links for you that lead to a few speed change tutorials. I did say it was handy for doing a freeze frame didn't I? :)

Final Cut Pro 7 - The Tools of Speed (2009)  A comprehensive look at the speed tools by Steve Martin.

Using the FCP Change Speed Segment tool Scott Simmons kicked off the debate - I even get a mention.

Also because YouTube videos seem to be the tutorial resource people love, The AppleShakeGuru does his thing with skiers.