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Manipulating Time

Basic

Speed up or slow down footage with this simple expression that enables you to easily manipulate the time of your layers. It also works with Compositions as well, perfect for easily dropping in lower thirds and making them fit your timeline.


Now this function works well for both video footage and pre-compositions.

To get started we place on our layer either our video footage or pre-comp and right+click to go to Time, and select Enable Time Remapping. This makes visible the Time Remap property for our footage. It will have two keyframes, one at the start and one at the end of the footage or pre-comp layer based on the start and end duration of the source of the layer.

Holding Alt and clicking on the stopwatch lets us add an expression onto this property:

Code Snippet
timeRemap
linear
linear(x,xMin,xMax,yMin,yMax)

The Linear Expression interpolates values by calculating where “x” falls between “xMin” and “xMax” and then giving a result that is the value equivalently positioned between “yMin” and “yMax“.

(time, inPoint
inPoint

When used in an expression of a layer, inPoint refers to the time value of the point in which the layer first starts on the timeline. The time value is a decimal of how many seconds, ignoring the framerate. e.g. a time value of 1 occurs at 1 second, regardless of framerate. Therefore a layer starting at 1 second will have an inPoint value of 1.

, outPoint
outPoint

When used in an expression of a layer, outPoint refers to the time value of the point in which the layer ends on the timeline. The time value is a decimal of how many seconds, ignoring the framerate. e.g. a time value of 2 occurs at 2 seconds, regardless of framerate. Therefore a layer ending at 2 seconds will have an outPoint value of 2.

, 0, key(2).time-key(1).time);

The linear equation will reinterpret the value of time between our inPoint and outPoint to result in what is essentially an equivalent time value between zero and the duration of our source content.

So why mess around with adding an expression like this rather than using one of the other time manipulation options?

This method makes manipulation of the timing of the footage or pre-comp extremely easy, as you can now simply drag the edges of the footage or pre-comp to the correct positions for its use on your timeline and the playback speed will always manipulate to fit that timing.

One example would be a transition you have created in a pre-comp that you then drag into your timeline. Simply copy and pasting this expression onto the timeRemap property will allow quick manipulation of the timing of the transition to suit the pacing of your video.

I have also used it often with lower-third templates, as they are often used multiple times throughout a video so duplicating and manipulating allows me to get pinpoint accuracy on the timing.

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What happens if you drag out the footage or pre-comp way larger than the source?

If you extend the length of the footage quite a ways beyond the timing of the source footage, you will find it will start to stutter. This will happen regardless of the time manipulation technique you are using, as your footage has a finite amount of frames in one second (typically between 25 – 30 per second) so if slowed down too much, each frame starts to occupy longer and longer periods of one second, in order for the full footage duration to fit in the extended requirements of its use on your timeline.

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