Insider Tips: Speed Ramping in Final Cut Pro

Every week, Insider asks one of our expert contributors to share a tip, tool, or technique that they use all the time and couldn’t live without. This week, Reuben Evans explains how to quickly create a dynamic speed ramp using Final Cut Pro.

Create speed ramps using Final Cut Pro

You used to need a highly specialized  camera like a Phantom to shoot at high frame rates like 120fps—especially if you need frame resolutions of 4K or above. But now the iPhone can shoot super-slow motion at 240fps in HD, and anyone can create amazing slow-motion shots.

All this makes the editing technique of “speed ramping” more important. You don’t want to have to wade through the boring parts of a shot, you want the good stuff. Perhaps the most famous example of this is Snyder’s 300. Apple’s Final Cut Pro makes it easy to speed up parts of your footage, and ease in and out of the parts you want to go slower.

Drag over a portion of your clip with the range tool (R). Then go to the retiming menu in your viewer and select a speed. You can choose to increase or decrease the speed with preset increments, or you can choose a custom speed.

Note that if you drop slow-motion footage into your timeline and it plays back at regular speed, you need to select it and use the retiming menu to select “Automatic Speed”, which will set it to the slow-motion effect that you were expecting.

A gray area

Once you’ve adjusted the speed of the range of the clip, you can tweak the “easing” in and out. You’ll notice a grey area at the top of the clip. Just drag the ends to change the transition duration between the original and adjusted speeds.

Now you know how to ramp in and out of slow-motion clips in Final Cut Pro.

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Screenshots from Amazing Grace (due for release in 2024). Courtesy of Visuals 1st Films, LLC.

Reuben Evans

Reuben Evans is an award-winning screenwriter, executive producer at Faithlife, and a member of the Producers Guild of America. He has produced and directed numerous documentaries and commercials. Reuben’s tools of choice are RED Cameras, Final Cut Pro, and DaVinci Resolve. He writes for Insider and is part of the Blade Ronner Media writers network. Reuben resides in Washington state with his wife, four kids, and one crazy goldendoodle puppy named Baker.

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