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Speed Controls in FCP7

Remember back in the days of Fit-to-Fill Edits?  The newer speed controls nowadays give new solutions to old problems.  Check out this update about the new speed controls in Final Cut Pro 7:

In our 5-Day Final Cut Pro class, our students always got frustrated by the way Final Cut 6 handled speed control. While changing a clip's playback speed was easy enough if you wanted a constant rate of slow- or fast-motion, common tasks like accelerating or decelerating a clip were painful: unlike Avid's velocity-based time graphs, Final Cut's position-based time graphs were anything but intuitive. Unless you were a whiz at high school calculus, visualizing the relationship between position graphs and acceleration (its second derivative, calc whizzes)
took a heap of effort.

Speed Change Dialog

The new speed controls poke their heads up in a few places.  For starters, the basic "Change Speed" dialog box (Modify -> Change Speed or Cmd+J) has a shiny new look: in addition to the old percentage-based and duration-based speed controls, you can instantly add eases to the speed change.  These quick-and-easy controls let you avoid a lot of the reasons you'd formerly need to use a Time Remap graph: to smooth out speed changes, for example, simply adjust the clip's speed then use one of the curved ease options for the clip's Start and End interpolations.

The Speed control dialog box also introduces a "Ripple Sequence" option, which allows you to toggle whether or not the remaining clips in your sequence automatically adjust to fit your new clip.  It's on by default, which is normally the behavior that you expect -- but if you've already got a sequence edited to an audio track, this little option could save you some headaches.
New Speed Tool

speed-tool-1.pngBut with the new and improved Speed Tool, you may not even need the speed dialog.  With the Speed Tool active (keyboard shortcut "sss"), "trimming" a clip actually stretches or squeezes the speed of the clip to fit in the new duration.  It's kind of like making a "Fit to Fill" edit with existing clips right down in your Timeline.

For that matter, you can create your eases with the Speed Tool: simply click anywhere inside the clip on the Timeline and drag left or right, and you're interactively adjusting the speed of the clip before and after that point.  This might be easier to visualize if you have Clip Overlays turned on: watch the notches at the bottom of the clip as you adjust it with the Speed Tool.  The closer the notches are, the faster the clip is playing, and vice versa.

Old Position Graph

The new version of FCP downplays the Position Graph associated with the old Time Remap tool.  As far as we're concerned, that's a good thing: it caused our students a lot more trouble than it was worth.  But if you've taken the time to learn how to use the graph effectively, you'll notice that it's missing from the Clip Overlay view in your Timeline.  Simply load the clip up into the viewer, and you'll find the graph plus its keyframes under the Speed category at the bottom of the Motion tab.
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