Advanced Speed Ramping in After Effects 2020

Speed ramping has become more and more common, especially since it is so easy to do in modern editing software like Adobe Premiere Pro.

The quick techniques allowed by built-in tools are nice and can do a great job without much work, but there are better ways. One way is to make use of After Effects and its impressive library of controls to tune your speed ramping effects to their absolute best.

Kyler Holland is a filmmaker who loves this effect and jumps into what the tool does. In Premiere Pro it is time remapping using keyframe to change and adjust the speed of your clip over time.

Compare that to After Effects, which has a graph editor that gives you loads more control over the effect and can make them look that much better. Ready to learn how to use it?

If you have a clip in After Effects already you are ready to begin. Right-click that clip, head to Time, and select “Enable Time Remapping.” By default this will create a keyframe at each end.

You may notice if you move these keyframe it will affect the footage and create new start and end points by speeding up the video. Head into the Graph Editor by selecting the small button to the top left of the timeline area.

Once you look at the graph there are tweaks you can make changes to the view mode. Holland has Show Selected Properties and Show Graph Editor Set selected.

On the next options, he has Auto-Select Graph Type and Show Reference Graph selected. He recommends going to Edit Speed Graph so you can see what is happening. The Value Graph is nice because it puts it on a linear scale.

Going back to the keyframe, right-click on the beginning and ending keyframe, go to Keyframe Assistant and choose Easy Ease In and Easy Ease Out, selectively. Heading back to the Value Graph you can see what is happening.

The Speed Graph is also helpful for seeing the speed changes over time. By dragging the points you can see exactly how this affects your footage. This could be all you need to know to pull off a nice speed ramp effect.

With those basics in mind Holland moves on to showing how a sample transition would work. With two clips on the timeline he starts off the same way by enabling time remapping. Next, he goes and adds a point where he wants to start the speed ramping.

Then he takes the ending keyframe and drags it closer to the newly added keyframe. After that he pulls the end of the clip to match where the ending keyframe is now.

This should result in a clip that is normal speed up to the new keyframe where it’ll speed up and then go right to the end/ending keyframe.

Tweaking these will give us a much smoother effect. Holland does the same easy ease in and out to the two ending keyframes to start. Looking at the speed graphic you can see how it gradually speeds up and then slows back down.

Holland wants to make it a smoother and slower ramp up with a sudden ramp down at the end. By just dragging the keyframes you can quickly make this happen and visualize it using the graph.

An interesting thing to keep in mind is that each keyframe represents a specific frame. Moving the keyframe doesn’t move the point on the clip, it moves the actual frame.

This means that moving the keyframe will impact the speed ramp and when/how fast it moves. So, you can actually move it around to quickly adjust the speed after you get it configured how you want.

Closing the gap between the first clip, which is now complete, and the second clip gives us a quite jarring transition. Adding a speed ramp effect to that clip will do the trick. Select it and do the same starting steps of time remapping.

Scroll forward to decide where to add a new keyframe for when you want the keyframe to end. Holland quickly moves the keyframe to have the same length between this effect and the earlier clip’s ramping.

Moving into the second clip’s graph, Holland does the same thing he did on clip one but in reverse.

After this Holland heads into the Value Graph. This shows you a new way of looking at how the speed changes over time. The value graph shows a nice gradual increase in speed followed by a small linear change for the remainder of the clip.

By adjusting the positioning of the initial curve and matching it to the straight line you can get an extremely smooth transition. This really requires looking at the video and trying out yourself.

Playing back the two clips showed that it is a quick way to get the two clips to blend together very nicely. Another trick is to add an adjustment layer to the composition and then using the CC Force Motion Blur effect.

After Effects adds motion blur to clips with motion, which can help with the effect and make the transition even more seamless.

This is far from the end of what is possible. Now that you know how to do this you can add more advanced programming. Add another keyframe and ramp up again later in the same clip.

Also, After Effects has multiple ways to do the same thing depending on what you prefer. Holland is doing a lot more work in the Value Graph and points out you can do the ease in and out effects right there.

Have you done any cool speed ramping in After Effects or stuck to the basics in your NLE?


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