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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 After Effects! Let’s dig into all of the helpful AE tools you can use to give your project unique speed effects.

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 After Effects, 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.

Speed Ramps & Freeze Frames in After Effects: 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.

Speed Ramps & Freeze Frames in After Effects: Freeze Frame

Slow Motion and Constant Speed Change in After Effects

A common request from clients is to make a clip “slo-mo.”  Luckily, After Effects makes slow motion easy. Right-click and select Time Stretch. A dialog box opens. Now enter the speed you want.

You’ll 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.

Speed Ramps & Freeze Frames in After Effects: Frame Blending

Ramping and Freezing Time

Use After Effects to quickly create speed ramps in your footage, which is 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.

Speed Ramps & Freeze Frames in After Effects: Time Stretch

Speed Ramps & Freeze Frames in After Effects: Time Remapping Keyframes

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

Speed Ramps & Freeze Frames in After Effects: Time Remap Graph Editor

Command-Click (Control-Click for 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.

Speed Ramps & Freeze Frames in After Effects: Ease Keyframes

Experiment and have fun with the speed effects in After Effets!  Check out the Adobe After Effects help site for for more details on playing with Time. And don’t forget – PremiumBeat has tons of helpful After Effects content!

Got any tips for bending time in After Effects? Share them in the comments below!