Super slow motion effect for free

We show the steps to installing and using an extreme slow motion Python tool

We’re back at it again: using machine learning to do cool stuff with video. This week it’s extreme slow motion, something difficult for conventional optical flow retiming tools to pull off. The tool is trained on high frame rate footage to be better at guiding motion vector warping when new frames are introduced, and potentially avoiding occlusion artifacts.

We have a quick video guide (under 8 minutes) of the installation and execution of the script on moviola.com, but if you prefer to read your words rather than watch them, here’s the rub:

Install into an Anaconda environment

This particular script is available as a repository on Github. If you’ve never downloaded from Github before, don’t be intimidated.

Just head to: https://github.com/avinashpaliwal/Super-SloMo (the repository for the slow motion script) and click the ‘Clone or download’ button at right to download a zip of everything.

You’ll also want to download the pre-trained ML model from here.

Then create a new Anaconda environment. Check out our previous article for the specific steps for this.

There are just a few dependencies you need to have installed to get the slow motion conversion to work. In Anaconda these can be installed with the following commands:

conda install torchvision -c pytorch
conda install -c conda-forge tqdm
conda install -c conda-forge ffmpeg

Run the ‘Super SloMo’ script

Running the script on your footage is pretty easy. You can slow motion encode any footage that ffmpeg supports (which is most of the modern codecs); for simplicity in the video walkthrough we just used MP4. Unfortunately the output is an MKV. Not ideal, but if you’re keen you can always go in and rewrite the script to support more standard export formats. I’ll show you in a bit how to convert the MKV to an MP4 using VLC player.

Make sure you’re in the same folder as the ‘video_to_slomo.py’ file (on Windows type ‘cd’ and then the path to the folder), and that you’ve copied the SuperSloMo.ckpt file you downloaded separately into the same folder. Then you can type:

python video_to_slomo.py --video [sourceFile] --sf [Speed] --checkpoint .\SuperSloMo.ckpt --fps [fr] --output [outputFile]

Replace the text in brackets (replace the brackets as well) with the following:

[sourceFile] <- The full file path to the source clip, e.g. C:\Users\micro\Documents\myVideo.mp4

[Speed] <- The slowdown multiplier. E.g. for quarter speed this would be 4

[fr] <- The source clip frame rate. E.g. for 24 fps footage, enter 24

[outputFile] <- The full file path and name of the slow motion file you want to create. NOTE: This needs to end in ‘.mkv’ since that’s the format the script’s designed to export to.

You may see some warnings when you run the command; check out the video for more details.

Convert the MKV to a standard format

If you’re wondering what an MKV file is, then you’re not a Blu-ray pirate. OK, that’s a little unfair; there are legitimate reasons for using MKV. It’s a media container in the way that QuickTime and MP4 are containers. Developed in Russia and open-sourced, it’s become a popular format for ripping Blu-ray media to digital files.

Never fear: VLC Player can convert it to a format your NLE will be able to work with. In VLC just choose Media > Convert/Save, locate the MKV to convert, pick a profile, then click the settings button (the wrench icon) to modify individual codec settings. Finally choose a destination file name and location and click ‘Start.’ Done.

You’ll find that this slow motion tool will work better in most cases than standard optical flow alone. In some cases it will be marginally worse. In an upcoming article I’ll actually walk through the process of fixing retimes when the optical flow and the AI fail you and you’re left with a bubbly mess. (No shot is truly impossible, it’s just a matter of how much money/time you have to throw at it.)

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Damian Allen is a VFX supervisor and pipeline consultant based in LA. He specializes in picture-lock emergency effects work and AR and VR tool development through his company Pixerati LLC. In addition to his hands-on…