Playing Clips Backward, Changing Speed, and Freezing Frames

By the time you finish this section you'll know how to create a video sequence that incorporates all three of these concepts.

Playing Clips Backwards

First, a fun and simple technique?playing a clip backwards. Consider the possibilities. Kids diving "out" of a pond, a pitcher "retrieving" his fastball, and a reverse replay of an explosive building demolition.

Task: Play a Clip Backwards

To play a clip backwards, follow these steps:

  1. Select any clip, either on the timeline or in the Project window.

  2. Right-click (Windows) or Option-click (Mac) to open the clip menu. Select Speed and change the New Rate percentage to ?100 (negative 100) in the Clip Speed dialog box (see Figure 9.1). Click OK.

    Figure 9.1. The Clip Speed dialog box, where a setting of -100% plays the video backward and 200% doubles the speed and cuts the clip time in half.


  3. Play the clip either by dragging it from the Project window to the Source Monitor screen or by playing it from the timeline.

If you have audio associated with the clip, it'll play backward too. You can unlink that audio and change it back to +100 or unlink it before making the reversal.

Notice a couple things. If you changed the clip in the timeline, it'll have an altered slug?the name listed on the timeline?with x-100% at the end. I've highlighted that "tag" in Figure 9.2. If you changed the clip in the Project window, it does not display that extra bit of information in its slug, and there's no way to know whether the clip will run backward unless you play it or drag it to the timeline and note the x-100% tag.

Figure 9.2. Giving a clip a new speed adds an x-% tag to its timeline "slug."



It's easy to change clip names or copy clips and give them new names within the Project window. To give a clip a new name?such as Kids Dive - reverse 100?slowly double-click the clip name and type in a new one. A better solution is to create a whole new clip. To do that, right/Option-click the clip you want to duplicate and select Copy. Then right/Option-click in the white area in the lower-right side of the Project window and select Paste. There is your duplicate clip. You can change its speed/direction and rename it to reflect that. Those changes will not affect the original clip on your scratch disk.

Changing Speed

Using the same right/Option-click Speed menu, you can speed up or slow down a clip. Simply change the percentage: 200% will double the speed while cutting the clip time in half, and 50% will slow things down by half and double the clip time. If there's a top percentage limit to speeding up clips, I haven't found it. Try a setting of 1,000% just to see how that looks. The bottom limit is 1%. Try that and notice that your clip is now 100 times longer! View it and you'll see that it's just a collection of still frames that change every few seconds.

Once again, your clip timeline slug will reflect whatever speed change you make by adding an x-% tag at the end.

Task: Play a Clip at Different Speeds

It's a simple matter to take a clip at regular speed and change its speed midway.Here's how:

  1. Select a clip and drag it to the timeline. Use the edit line to find a place within the clip where you want to shift speed.

  2. Select the Razor tool from the toolbox. As a reminder, I've highlighted it in Figure 9.3.

    Figure 9.3. The Razor tool. Use it to slice clips in two.


  3. Move it to the edit line and click to slice your clip in two.

  4. Press the V hotkey to switch the cursor to the Selection tool (or click its icon in the toolbox) and then right/Option-click the clip segment whose speed you want to change.

  5. Select Speed and change the percentage. Note the new x-% tag on that segment.

  6. Play those two segments back to back to see how this works.


If you change the speed of the clip such that it plays slower (that is, in slow motion), you can improve the quality of the motion by turning on Clip, VideoOptions, FrameHold, FrameBlending. This feature will smooth out the motion.

Adding Freeze Frames

If you want to create a sequence that starts with a regular-speed clip, slows down, stops, shifts to a slow reverse, and finishes at full-speed reverse, then you need to create a freeze frame.

You also can use a freeze frame as an effective way to close a segment or an entire production. Freeze the final frame and then fade to black.

To do either you first need to create a freeze frame. If you want to create a sequence, drag a clip to the timeline with the frame in it that you want to freeze. Otherwise, any clip will do, just so you can see how this works.

Task: Create a Freeze Frame

To create a freeze frame, follow these steps:

  1. Use the Selection tool to drag the end of the clip to the frame you want to freeze. For instance, if the clip is of kids diving into a pond, you may want that point to be just as their bodies are about halfway into the water.

  2. Right/Option-click on your clip and select Copy. Click the timeline after that clip and then right/Option-click and select Paste. You have now added a duplicate of the clip to the timeline. You will turn this duplicate clip into the freeze frame clip.

  3. Right/Option-click and select Video Options, Frame Hold. The Frame Hold Options dialog box appears.

  4. The Frame Hold Options dialog box contains several options. In this case, as I've highlighted in Figure 9.4, you want to check the Hold On box and select one of its three options: In Point, Marker 0, or Out Point. In this case, choose Out Point (I'll cover markers later in this hour).

    Figure 9.4. The Frame Hold Options dialog box. Use it to create a freeze frame.


  5. This creates a clip that consists of only one frame that holds for the length of the original clip. You can play it or drag the edit line through it to confirm this. Note that the timeline slug does not change to reflect this clip's new freeze frame status.

  6. Give it a new name by right/Option-clicking, selecting Set Clip Name Alias, and typing in something descriptive, such as Freeze - Kids Dive.


I had you give this clip an "alias" because of an unpredictable characteristic of Premiere. I'm not sure whether it's a bug or a feature, but when you create a freeze frame and then add a transition to it, the freeze frame sometimes changes to another frame within the original video clip. Apparently, a way to avoid that is to give the freeze frame a new name.

You now can use that clip in a sequence: forward regular speed, slow motion, freeze frame, reverse slow, and reverse regular speed. I suggest doing that in the exercise segment at the end of the hour.

Task: Add a Freeze Frame and Fade to Black to End a Piece

To add a freeze frame and fade to black at the end of a piece, follow these steps:

  1. Create "black video" by right/Option-clicking in the white area of the Project window below your clips and selecting New, Black Video. Alternatively, you can click the little icon highlighted in Figure 9.5 to open the Create window and select Black Video from the drop-down list. Either method adds a black video clip to the Project window.

    Figure 9.5. The Create Item icon in the Project window lets you place a black video clip in the Project window.


  2. Drag the black video clip to the end of your piece after the freeze frame.

  3. Open the Transitions palette and drag and drop the cross-dissolve at the edit point between the freeze frame clip and the black video.

  4. To view the dissolve, use Alt-scrub (Windows) or Option-scrub (Mac), use the Real-time Preview feature, or render the dissolve.


Using the Create Item window or Project window's right/Option-click menu and then selecting New lets you add other types of clips to your Project window:

  • Universal Counting Leader is that black-and-white spinning countdown you used to see in movies.

  • Bars and Tone lets engineers adjust their playback devices to the right audio and video levels for their projects (not as important a feature as it was before automated systems).

  • Color Matte lets you create a full-screen, solid-color clip for use as a background.

This is another way to access the Title Designer and to create an "offline file" (see the next note).


An offline file is sort of a placeholder for a video clip you intend to transfer to your hard drive later. You can edit that placeholder clip on your timeline, and when you finally do capture the clip to your hard drive, you can replace the offline clip with the actual clip. To do that, highlight the offline clip, select Project, Replace Clips, locate the newly captured clip, and click OK.

    Part II: Enhancing Your Video