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Old October 12th, 2009, 04:03 PM   #1
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Rules For Using a Speed Change Effect

I've watched various videos and commercials that incorporate the speed change effect and it looks really cool. But when ever I try and use it, it looks silly/comical. Are there any "rules" as to when to use it and when not to use it?

Here's an example of when I've tried to use it and it looks silly/comical in my opinion. But maybe it looks okay? Comments?


(I just uploaded the video, so give it a few minutes for Vimeo to release it)
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Old October 12th, 2009, 06:27 PM   #2
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This is just my opinion so take it with a grain of salt. First, about slow and fast motion.
I think slow motion is used to bring more drama or emphasize something......something
dramatic is happening like.....the hero of the movie is jumping over a flaming car.....so
the shot might slow down to allow you to see the 'drama'. Fast motion is often used
for things that are already moving fast, just to make them appear even faster....but
you have to be careful not to overdo it. Say for example, a martial arts fight scene.
You can make the combatants appear very skilled by speeding up the scene....say
10-15%. There are other places to use 'slow and fast' motion or variable speed ramps.
Where they DON'T seem to work so well (which is what you've found out I think) is
in 'everyday' tasks. If someone is picking up their mail, and I have a shot of it and
speed it up 500%, it just looks cheesy, a viewer can tell it's not real speed, and
there is no real reason to be doing it. I guess the best I can say, is that you
can think about WHY you are using a fast or slow speed effect and see if it is conveying
the right impression. Using it because it is 'cool' very rarely works, it has to kind of
be for a specific reason, or at least some thought has to go into it.

That being said, I did want to say, nice job on the motion graphics at the start of
the spot, those looked really nice!
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Old October 12th, 2009, 07:21 PM   #3
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Thanks Gabe. What you say makes sense. I'm going to dumb it down and just say that if it's a really cool shot with lots of motion, then playing with speed will normally work. But boring corporate stuff (like I normally work with....hehehehe) doesn't work so well.

Thanks Gabe!

(some day I'll get to shoot some chase scenes or auto racing or something) :)
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Old October 12th, 2009, 09:27 PM   #4
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Ya, I mostly shoot corporate stuff too....maybe boring but it helps pay the bills and
I can't afford to be a 'starving artist' and only shoot things I want to shoot.

That being said there are a couple places I've used speed ramping in corporate work.
One that I can recall off the top of my head was a local car dealer spot. I'm sure you've
seen the typical 'car driving down a windy road' when it speed ramps into slow motion
to 'show off' the sleek looking car. I did something like that once. Also used 'fast motion'
for a timelapse type effect of clouds flowing over a cruise ship. To me, key to both of these
was the fact that there were NOT people or other subjects in the shot in the background....
that often seems to 'ruin' the effect as well. But yeah, really just playing with the speed
ramping is the best way to see if it 'works'.

Anyways, I agree, I'd rather shoot 'cool' stuff, but it doesn't seem to pay much,
if anything, (people seem to want you to work on their 'movies' for free)
while the 'boring' corporate stuff can actually help you make your house payment
and buy groceries.
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Old October 12th, 2009, 10:07 PM   #5
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Amen Gabe! Couldn't have said it better myself. Boring, but it pays the bills. :)

Yeah, I've never done the fast motion thing for car running footage, but I've done a lot of time lapse stuff using the time lapse feature in our camera.

Thanks again.
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Old October 12th, 2009, 10:07 PM   #6
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I'll throw my 2-cents in - and like Gabe said take it with a grain of salt because it's all opinion not "gospel method":

I can see no reason to do any speed ramping anywhere on that clip. Slow-motion is great for dramatic moments or when you want to hold onto an emotion being created in that particular moment. There's nothing like that going on here.

Conversely a ramp-up is great for when you need to compress something that would normally take a really long time to go to completion, like when a crane is lifting a piece over a building or someone walking from a far distance up close. Again, nothing like that is happening that you need to speed it up.

However, if this were a traditional 15 or 30-second spot and you needed to ramp-up some things to bring attention to that moment it would work.

Basically your own assessment of the clip is spot-on: The speed ramps are comical and don't fit the content.
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Old October 12th, 2009, 10:12 PM   #7
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Actually the "problem" I was having was I wanted to show the guy loading the box into the car AND him looking at his little PDA thingy. But he takes so darn long to get from the loading the box, to pulling out his PDA I thought a speed change effect might work. This is for a 30-second commercial, so showing both motions in realtime takes way too long. In hindsight, I should have shot a tight-shot of him loading the box (for a cut away) but I didn't. :(
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Old October 12th, 2009, 10:54 PM   #8
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How about just re-cutting the clip so there's less of him taking it off his shoulder and concentrate more on the actual movement into the car? You could also do a fade-cut where you take the beginning and end of his movement and simply edit out the middle segment that takes too long and cross-fade between those two cuts; you'd get the same effect of time compression without the unnatural speed-ramp which is really jarring the more I see it.
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Old October 12th, 2009, 11:18 PM   #9
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A prime example of why ESPECIALLY WITH COMMERCIALS I try to create sequences so that I can lengthen or shorten a specific element to coincide with the V/O read or just keep the run time down.

Change up angles and pick up different framing of various aspects so that you can either cut on action or use an item coming into frame to change the overall run time.
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Old October 13th, 2009, 08:39 AM   #10
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Robert: I did a cross fade between to cut out the middle, but then it looks like a jump cut.

Shaun: Thanks for rubbing it in. :)
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Old October 13th, 2009, 10:39 AM   #11
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Mitchell: it's "sharing your pain", having been caught with my pants down more times than I can count... EVENTUALLY I just started reframing and repositioning because I've been caught in your situation more times than I'd care to admit...
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Old October 13th, 2009, 10:50 AM   #12
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LOL! Thanks Shaun. Good to know I'm not alone. :)
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Old October 13th, 2009, 04:32 PM   #13
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Alone? Not hardly. I should post some of my first spots. On second thought, no
I shouldn't.....
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Old October 13th, 2009, 04:42 PM   #14
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There is only one rule in speed ramping:

The fastest you EVAR get is real time!

When you cross that line it looks instantly Buster Keaton.

When you think you want too ramp, only ramp down to slow motion to emphasize a moment, never the other way round.

A lot of people get that wrong, sometimes you even see it in professional commercials.
But it looks wrong and takes the impact out of it.

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Old October 17th, 2009, 11:36 AM   #15
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Could someone point me to a good tutorial on speed ramping? I can figure out how to speed ramp in Motion, leaving the clip the same length - but this speeds up one part to slow down another. I want to variably ramp a portion of a clip, leaving the rest of it untouched.
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