How to Reverse Video in After Effects

Updated on: September 21, 2022

The rewind is an editing trick that always comes in handy when revising elements of a sequence. That makes a couple of Adobe's video-driven software offer tools to visually rewind time to test the logic of a scene or to look for any technical mistakes in a video and correct them. 

Rewinding has so many utilities that it is also an effect that you can apply to bring the audience back in time. If this is the process you're looking for, get ready because you’ll learn how to reverse video in After Effects. 

First of all, go to the Timeline and select the Layer you want to add this effect on. To do this, import your composition files, including the clip you want to reverse this way:

  1. Import your footage to the Workspace by double-clicking the Project Panel.
  2. Drag your files to the Timeline.
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Now that you have your footage ready, you can use the Time Indicator to go back to the past in your sequence by rewinding any scene of the project. To do this you’ll need to activate an effect.

Time Effects in After Effects

After Effects has several ways to add basic effects to your layers. One of them is by going to the Effects and Presets panel in the Workspace and dragging them into your composition. However, this panel does not include the rewind effect. So, once you have the layer ready:

1. Go to the Timeline and select the layer.

2. Right-click on your layer and locate the Time option.

3. Select the Time-Reverse Layer mode to apply the effect.

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Note how the FX box next to your layer label is activated on your Layer every time you add an effect to the Timeline. To preview your composition with the effect keep the button checked; to play it without it, uncheck it.

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Remember that every time you apply an effect, it will affect the entire layer. So, if you want it to last only a few seconds, you will have to duplicate your layer and split the segment you require. That will create a new layer with the fragment to which you can apply your effect.

That is another way to apply tricks apart from the ones After Effects displays in its Effects panel. Explore other options to see the all the possibilities and features, such as Time Stretch to generate slow motion; or Freeze Frame, among others.

Andrea Mercado is a tech-focused journalist and copywriter with over 5 years of experience covering innovation, edtech, AI, and internet trends across media outlets. She is passionate about how technology can democratize access to education and is an avid learner when it comes to emerging tech like AI. Her articles and webinars help readers stay informed on the latest tech developments.
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