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Speed Ramps & Freeze Frames in After Effects

Clay Asbury
By Clay Asbury

Learn how to manipulate time and create speed ramps in Adobe Effects!  In this post we’ll dig into the AE Time Controls, useful tools for giving your projects unique speed effects.

Adobe After Effects Tutorial

Leverage the tools in Adobe After Effects to create unique speed ramps, constant speed change and freeze frames.  Apply these speed effects to make your video editing and motion design projects more dynamic and engaging.

Freeze Frames in After Effects

To create a freeze frame in AE, first select a layer in your Composition.  Put the playhead on the frame you want to freeze.

Select “Split Layer” from the Edit Menu. The layer is duplicated and split at the playhead.

Split Layer

Select the top layer, Right click and select “Freeze Frame” or use Layer > Time > Freeze Frame. The layer now freezes.

To mimic a popular TV show apply the “Black & White” effect to the frozen clip and add a sound effect when it freezes.

Slow Motion & Constant Speed Change in AE

A common request from clients is to make a clip “slo-mo.”  Luckily, After Effects make slow motion easy.

Right click and select “Time Stretch”.  A dialog box opens.  Now enter the speed you want.

You will want to turn on Frame Blending to get smooth results.  Turn on Frame Blending by clicking the Frame Blend switch for the Composition and the Layer (see image below). The dashed line is Frame Mix and the solid line is Pixel Motion. Pixel Motion tends to look more natural but takes longer to render.

Frame Blending

Ramping and Freezing Time

Use AE to quickly create speed ramps in your footage – great for highlighting action sports or sweeping camera moves.

Right click and select “Enable Time Remapping”.  This creates keyframes at the beginning and end of the layer.

Right click and select "Time Stretch"

Time Remapping Keyframes

Click on “Time Remap”, and then click the Graph Editor. This provides a more visual way to work. The line shows you the normal speed of the clip.

Time Remap  Graph Editor

Command-Click  (Control-Click PC) on the line to add keyframes where you want to change the speed or freeze the action. A flat line freezes a frame, a steeper line speeds up , a shallower line slows down and if you drag the keyframe lower than the previous keyframe it plays in reverse. Remember to turn on Frame Blending and Ease keyframes for a smoother result.




Ease Keyframes AE

Experiment and have fun with the speed effects in AE!  Check out the Adobe After Effects help site for for more details on playing with Time.