How to make a slow-mo video

redlinederby Friday, 9/11/2015
Site manager

With a huge new interest in race videos, thanks to Cooper's slow-mo action, here is the process I used to make my Dusty Roads video...which is derived from what I was able to pick from Cooper. The tools were right in front of me, I just hadn't taken the effort to figure them out.

The key to the process is the iPhone. In particular, an iPhone with the slow-mo camera feature...which is the iPhone 5s and newer.

You can make slow-mo videos without the iPhone but the quality just isn't as good because the slow-mo is being done by third-party software on your computer. Recording with a slow-mo camera is always going to be better than artificial slow-mo from a program. But I'll address desktop software in a bit...

Using the iPhone

The only thing you need to install is the iMovie app, it's $5 in the App Store. I know that's kind of expensive for an app but it really is a easy-to-use app that makes video editing stress-free.

I was able to make my entire video using just iPhone. It was a tedious operation, mostly due to the size of the phone - way too small (and I even have a big iPhone 6). As far as I could tell, there isn't a way to easily transfer raw video from your iPhone to an iPad. Bummer.

Anyway...recording with slow-mo is easy, just turn it on and hit record...just like any other video. 

Using iMovie

After you've recorded a video, go into iMovie and create a new project to get started. 

I'm not going to cover how to use iMovie. It's honestly pretty simple and trial-and-error is a better way to learn this type of thing. Just be prepare to try and try again.

Import your slow-mo movie. Trim it down to how you want, as well as adding any text and stuff...but you're doing it just for that race, not the "final" video. 

After you've got it cut down the way you like, you need to export the movie. I just saved the produced movie into gallery - not to YouTube or anything like that - and was done.

We all know a tournament can be many, many races. However, rather than having one project where I imported every slow-mo video, I exported each slow-mo video on it's own. Then I created one final project and import each of the completed videos to make the final video that gets uploaded to YouTube.

So rather than put all your eggs in one basket, you put one egg in one basket until all your eggs are done. Only then do you dump all those eggs into one big basket for delivery.

I found this method easy to work with and manage rather than dealing with tons and tons of videos within a single project. It was easier to make changes and and focus.

Not using the iPhone

If you don't want to edit movies on your tiny little phone, using desktop software on your PC or laptop is the other option. If you do have an iPhone, you should still using the built-in slow-mo camera to will result in a much better quality video.

But the trick is you must export the slow-mo video first, before transferring it to your computer. If you just drag-n-drop the movie file from your phone to your computer (like I first did), it won't come across as a slow-mo video, just a normal speed video. 

After that, just use your software like you normally would.

The first videos I made was using desktop software and while it worked, the quality of the video coming out of the iPhone is just so much better, it's really night and day.

Slow and steady win the race

Editing videos is a slow and tedious process. I find it really boring but we've all seen that having a video adds a ton to the excitement of a race. 

I would suggest rather than putting every single race/heat into your movie, just pick out the highlights. Find the races that were closest or biggest upset or whatever...your choice. Not only will this require less editing time, but it will make it easier for viewers to digest. Few will watch 30-minutes of racing. If you can keep it under 5-minutes, you're good.

One other thing to consider when making videos is, lighting, lighting. If you invest in anything other than the $5 phone app, buy some lights. Or at least some daylight bulbs for your lamps around your track. You might have an awesome track and make an awesome video, but if the lighting is shotty and otherwise dark, it's hard to see the true action.

So that's how I make my videos. What do you use to make yours?


Did CCRider use an iPhone or other camera recording in slo-mo?  Or did he slow down normally recorded video?  Frame rate seemed different.  Not as slow.

  • Or, to put it another way, hey CCRIDER, did you do the same. — MoHasAFastCar
  • I want to know too, is it 120 or 240 fps? — Skuxmobile
  • The iPhone slow-mo is 240fps — redlinederby
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72_Chevy_C10 9/12/15
Event coordinator

Hey Brian, 

Good info! The slo-mo stuff that I had done in the past was done by using an ap. But, I just checked and I do have a slow motion record mode on my Samsung Galaxy 5!

I think I might have to set up a little more light when I record, but it seems to work nice!

Here's a test at 1/4 speed and an 'old timey' filter applied...

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Diecast64 9/15/15

The Iphone does a great job with slo-mo.  I've used it for a few small projects.  For my larger projects including my latest videos of the Thunder Road race I use a Go-Pro camera and Windows Movie Maker.  The Go-Pro has a slo-mo function as well.  Windows Movie Maker has a slo-mo function where you can slow clips down up to 1/8 speed.  Normal frame rate is 30 frames per second, so the iphone's 240 frame rate mode translates to 1/8 speed.  One thing I like about the Go-Pro is the wide angle lens.  It helps make it easier to keep the cars in the camera's view.  However, the cars look a little further away.  

The slo-mo on Thunder Road should be the same speed as that used in the World Race, but I think the cars on the Thunder Road track were just going faster in real time.  

A while ago, Smitty asked me about slo-mo video and was wondering if I could help him.  I wrote up a tutorial on using Window's Movie Maker to edit Hot Wheels video.  I posted it here.

He told me to go step by step for someone that knew nothing about computers, so it's super detailed, so if you know a bit about computers you can skip a bunch, like how to save files and stuff.  

I would echo Brian's comment about lighting.  It helps a ton.  Also I have found that the more you can follow the cars, and not just have the camera set up in one spot really helps.  Sometimes that's possible, sometimes not.  

I'm interested in hearing other's opinions on just a highlights video vs. seeing everything.  I spent a ton of time on the Thunder Road videos...I mean a ton of time.  Almost 200 clips.  All edited and slowed down with titles.  I did it because I know that my cars aren't always the fastest, but when I send them off to a race, I want to see them race just as much as the guys with the fast cars do.  And I might be out after the first round, so yeah, show me all three races.  I spent a bunch of time building that car.  I'd like to see it run.  I was guessing there were others out there that felt the same.  But if 30+ minute videos are too long, I'm good with that.  It will save me a bunch of time.  What does everybody else think?

  • I like seeing my cars race, at least once, even if they're losers. — MoHasAFastCar
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redlinederby 9/15/15
Site manager

Good input there...I wish I had a GoPro to see how well it works. I've used Windows Movie Maker in the past and have no problems using it - it's really straight forward and does what you need. Regardless what camera or software you use, the bottleneck will always be the footage itself, slow-mo or otherwise.

I would agree about following the car with your camera too. Since I'm always alone when racing, I tried to devise a way that I could set-and-forget the camera, but after seeing how well Cooper's came off, I knew it wasn't really possible. Even with a wide-angle camera, I just thinking getting closer and tracking will result in a better video.

As far as all races are concerned...I totally understand people wanting to see their car's complete race. For me and the Dusty Roads, it was a matter of time. I do think a video has to be available within a reasonable amount of time after the actual event, otherwise people lose interest and any value from hype has worn off. As was mentioned, a TON of time goes into editing video, especially if the field is big. 

I think a formula I may try next time is producing a highlights video that gets released as soon as possible. Covers close races, upsets, finals and the championship. Make that under 5-minutes and up for the masses to see, complete with titles, music, etc. Then, release separate videos for the complete races, with fewer extras so they can get pumped out somewhat efficiently. Don't know if that will pan out but it's a strategy I want to try.

When making my videos I always think about SportsCenter. How would they cover and cut a Hot Wheels race? Once I answer that, the challenge is getting there with only one person. It's tough.

But even if you decide to show all the races, I think it's still best to upload separate videos rather than one big one. I'm not going to watch 30-minutes of racing. In the World Race video, I scanned ahead to find my car races and watched those clips. So maybe one video per round...something that can put the race out in chunks. Not only will it be easier for the person watching, but it will be smaller files to upload for the creator.

Tip: Use YouTube's playlists feature. Create a playlist for your race and then you add videos to it in order. Keeps all your videos together in a single place and updates automatically as you add videos. I used a playlist for the Dusty Roads videos and it worked great. No more scrolling through posts to find "that one" video.

I've also had a mind to explore live streaming of races. I need to see what options exist for that...thought being I can stream/record the racing for all to see live or on-demand and that covers the entire race. Then I produce a highlight video that goes to YouTube for the article. This would eliminate a lot of editing time but still give people a chance to see all the races and rounds. If you're just looking for results, the highlight video will do. If you want all the drama, grab some popcorn but don't expect a lot of shine.

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Diecast64 9/15/15

If you are going to use and Iphone to do your editing, Brian's idea of editing and exporting each race individually and then putting them all together at the end is genius! Dealing with a lot of clips, with their slo-mo edits, trim edits, titles, etc is just too much on that tiny screen.  

Each race in a youtube playlist is a pretty good idea too!  I like it!

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wadesgames 9/15/15  Here is my first try at slow motion with a IPhone. I was able to put 3 videos together. Still having some problems editing the clips. Thanks for the link it is helping me learn. 

  • Look at those suckers wobble, ha! Cool to see slowmo with so many lanes. — redlinederby
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72_Chevy_C10 10/14/15
Event coordinator

Playing around with adding a little light...super simple solution...El cheapo Christmas light!

Need a little tweaking, but getting there!

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redlinederby 10/15/15
Site manager

Good idea with the Xmas lights! I've been looking at LED strips but they're so expensive...much cheaper to buy a bunch of light strings. And those will be on sale real soon!

  • Yeah, I have a little better set-up now...down both sides. You'll see with the Funny Cars this weekend :) — 72_Chevy_C10
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