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How to Slow Down or Speed Up Video Clips in iMovie

Posted by Jamie on October 24, 2019

Want to know how to slow down or speed up video clips in iMovie? Creating clips or entire movies in the program and want to add some artistic or dramatic flair? This tutorial will walk you through slowing down, speeding up and even reversing clips in iMovie.

We usually watch movies at a standard rate that remains constant throughout. It helps us follow the movie easier and not become disoriented by frequent changes of speed or pace. There are times when a change of speed can add dramatic effect such as a replay or slow motion, or speeding up a transition scene to show it but not waste time on it.

It is for these reasons that you might need to know about speed effects. Use them well and you can add real character for your movie.

To get this to work, you will need an existing clip imported into your iMovie Timeline. From there we can use the speed controls to change the playback speed of that clip.

Slow down video clips in iMovie

Slow motion can add real dramatic effect to a clip. It works perfectly for replays, to show movement or to give the viewer time to absorb everything that’s going on. Slow motion is powerful when used correctly but should be used sparingly throughout a video so as not to become boring.

  1. Line up the clip in your Timeline to the point where you want to slow it down.
  2. Select the Speedometer icon in the top menu to adjust the speed.
  3. Select Slow or Custom from the dropdown menu to enable the speed change.
  4. Select a time percentage or set your custom speed.
  5. Adjust the slider above the clip to line up the slow motion with your exact requirements.
  6. Continue editing or export your video as necessary.

If your clip has audio, you will notice that the audio slows at the same pace as the clip. This might work on your sequence but might not. If there is music or dialog, it may sound too strange to be comfortable. If that is the case, check the box next to Preserve Pitch at the top of the screen and the audio will remain at the same speed.

You can select a standard speed using the 10%, 20%, 50% and Auto selections in the speed menu. Set it to Custom if you want to use a different speed.

Speed up video clips in iMovie

You can use the same principle to speed up a clip in iMovie. Fast forwarding the action is useful for transition sequences where the subject is moving from one place to another, for example one jump over to the next and lining up. The viewer will want to see it to maintain the flow but not in detail. Speeding it up minimizes the boring bits while keeping the flow.

  1. Line up the clip in your Timeline where you want the speed change to begin and end.
  2. Select the Speedometer icon in the top menu.
  3. Select Fast and select a standard or custom speed.
  4. Make any adjustment on the Timeline to get everything perfect.

The same as above. If you have audio, you will find it speeds up at the same rate as the video. Select Preserve Pitch to keep it sensible.

Once complete, you can continue editing your movie or export it as you normally would.

Reverse video clips in iMovie

Reversing clips within a movie is often used for dramatic or comedic effect. It can offer a GIF-like replay of a crash, funny moment, expression or whatever you like. Used sparingly, it can add a real flavor to a movie. You can also use reverse if you have a clip of something happening in the reverse of how you want to show it.

The reverse setting is also within the speed menu at the top of iMovie.

  1. Line up the clip in your Timeline where you want to reverse playback.
  2. Select the Speedometer icon in the top menu.
  3. Check the box next to Reverse.

This will reverse playback for the selected clip and allow you to create those boomerang clips people seem to like.

If you want to reverse and change the speed, you need to perform the speed change as above and save it. Then perform the reverse of the same clip. As far as I know, the two operations cannot be done at the same time. When I tried, one operation would overwrite the other and it never worked out. Changing the speed and then reversing it worked out fine.

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