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Manipulating Time in Video Production

One of the most crucial jobs in video editing is manipulating the perceived flow of time. Although there are occasions when your video will be real-time, this is rare. In most cases the video duration will be much different to the real-world time span of the story you are telling.

There are three possible ways to present time in a video or film sequence:

  1. Time is expanded, i.e. slower than real-time. For example, you might have a fight sequence that is shown in slow motion and/or from several different angles. An action sequence that only took a few seconds in real time might take half a minute on video.
  2. Real-time. The time in the video is exactly the same as the time it was recorded in. Examples: Live music video; sports event; a walk-through of a scene without interrupting the recording.
  3. Time is compressed. This is by far the most common situation. The story takes place over a longer time period than can be used in the video so various tricks are used to compress time into an acceptable duration. Virtually all feature films use time compression — stories can be set over weeks, months or years but still fit within a few hours of film time.

Next page: Expanded time