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Alter the Flow of Time With Speed Ramping!

Johnathan Paul

Speed ramping is a mind-blowing technique that can really enhance the viewing experience. What is it and how should you use it?

Speed ramping is a powerful tool for videographers and filmmakers, a distinctive technique that can really add drama and intensity to a scene —you just have to now how and when to use it. Let’s take a look at speed ramping, where it is used effectively, and how to produce the effect in the NLE software of your choice.

So What Exactly Is Speed Ramping?

Speed ramping is the process of ramping your footage speed up or down in order to gain a desired effect for the visual situation. You don’t just want to speed ramp everything; you want to be focused and targeted with your choice for speed ramping. Here are a few samples of speed ramping in major Hollywood films.

King Leonidas Lays Waste in 300

In this epic scene from 300, we watch as King Leonidas dispatches the enemy. The motions cuts from slow to normal to fast. The sequence was one of the first of its kind and was used to allow the audience to really get a sense for the brutal fighting tactics.

Above video courtesy of Movieclips

Sherlock and Moriarty’s Mental Fight Club

With this scene from Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, we watch Sherlock and Moriarty mentally run through a possible fight. The speed ramping works elegantly here because the slowdowns and speedups happen in conjunction with their thought patterns.

Above video courtesy of SherlockHolmesFan314

Speedup/Slowdown RocknRolla

We’re going to go with Guy Ritchie again, who loves to incorporate speed ramping. What’s interesting about the opening of RocknRolla is that while there are traditional elements of speed ramping, the majority of the ramping is happening during the animated title sequence.

Above video courtesy of BennMackay


In this definitive shot from Inception, Christopher Nolan used speed ramping to effectively correlate the characters in the van with the characters in the next-level zero-gravity dream. This is a great example of using the technique to advance the narrative.

Above video courtesy of MrInceptionFanatic

How Do You Execute Speed Ramping?

Speed ramping is actually a fairly easy technique to grasp. It is literally just the process of slowing down or speeding up your footage. While it is indeed easy, there are some steps you need to take in order to get a smooth ramp. As you can see in the  compiled videos below, you can execute this technique in the software of your choice.

Premiere Pro

Above video courtesy of Brandon Ford

After Effects

Above video courtesy of Surfaced Studio

Final Cut Pro X

Above video courtesy of Larry Jordan

Avid Media Composer

Above video courtesy of GetGoing Tutorials

What are your thoughts on speed ramping? Do you use this technique at all? Any tips or tricks you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below!