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Pan and Scan Still Photos to Get the Ken Burns Effect

Known as "The Ken Burns Effect", the Pan and Scan technique has become the norm when combining still photos with your moving images. This tutorial takes you through the steps of the average pan and scan effect, to guide you through the technique that will showcase both video and stills into a fluid moving video.

Pan-and-scan is an effective technique used in photo montages and presentations in order to make the viewing experience more interesting. Techniques such as panning and zooming allow for movement of still images across the video frame. These techniques, when done correctly, are pleasing to the eye and make the video less... well... boring. This tutorial looks at some of these techniques using Adobe After Effects.

Read the article Perfecting the Pan and Scan Effect.

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Video Transcript

Hi, my name is Thomas Skowronski and today we’re going to be perfecting the pan and scan effect. Our first step is going to be to set up our compensation. We’ll be working with high definition wide screen so we’ll set up our compensation with those settings.

Step number two will be to import our footage or file in this instance by clicking file and then scrolling down to import to bring in the picture of our choosing. In this case it will be a very handsome Tom Skowronski on a merry-go-round.

The first thing you’re going to want to do is position the picture in the composition the way you want it. Notice how large the picture is compared to the actual video frame size. The extra size will allow us to move the pictures across the frame because we still have all that extra space.

Step number four is where we get to have some fun and begin to animate our picture. The first think you’re going to want to do is make sure that your play head is at the time where you want your picture to begin animating. Select your footage in the timeline window. Press P to bring up position properties. Then set the key frame by clicking on the stopwatch icon. Now set another key frame by clicking and dragging your image to the location where you the animation to end.

Hey, what’s up? Paul Del Vecchio here for Triple E Productions and Video Maker Magazine. And today we’re going to be doing some panning and scanning of photos. We’re in Premier, so you know you can kind of just adapt this to whether you’re in avid final cut, Vegas After Effects, or any other editing programs out there.

So first off here we have like a small little sequence here that I put together. Its real short, four photos to music. And it has some examples of panning and scanning. So I’m just going to let that play so you guys can check it out.

[Music Playing]

Okay, so it’s sort of kind of dramatic and slow paced and that’s sort of the feel that we’re going for for this particular movie. It’s just a whole bunch of production stills and behind the scenes stills that are going to be made into the beginning credits. Of course this is without any color correction or whatever, but you know, this is just for the purposes of this tutorial so none of that is going to be included.

So basically how I created this and I’ll just go ahead and shut this layer off right here. Minimize it and bring up video track two so we can do some work. So I’m going to start off with a picture of storage like boxes and things like that. And I’ll just drop that into the timeline here. Now you’ll notice that the picture is not as large as our standard depth frame size. So you want it to be, ideally you want it to be larger. For instance, this picture right here – let me just find a good one do drop in here – this one right here is a lot larger. Now if I, you know, bring the frame size down to about 25 percent and I click in here you can see how large, how much larger the picture is than the frame size. So this gives you room to kind of zoom in or zoom out. And pan left and right, up and down, whatever you feel necessary. So ideally you want to start off with large pictures. Now, of course, this is going to do a little bit of a number on your processor but you know, that’s – in order to get the best or the most options you want to start off with a larger picture, so make sure that your processor is up for it.

All right, so I’m just going to use this one that we already created as a guideline. Now bring this back up to about 50 percent. Now the reason why I’m doing 50 percent is that so you know, if we’re in here I can still kind of like click on here and I have a little bit of room to grab this bounding box that shows the edges of the picture. Right, so it’s this one, right. So I’m clicking here and it can show the edges of the picture right here. So basically what you want to do is like first of all if you have music it will help greatly so that you have something to cut to or you have something to move and animate the photographs to. Music is always going to set the mood so you want the motion and everything of the pictures, the zooms, and the pans; you want those to kind of match the mood of the music.

All right, so let’s just jump in and get started. Again, here, this picture is not as large as the frame size so we can just kind of bring it out. Obviously that’s going to, you know, make the picture a little soft but in this case there’s really nothing we can do about that. And it’s not really not much of an increase here it’s about 20 percent increase in the picture so it’s not that bad. And most people won’t be able to tell the difference anyway. But anyway, so we’re going to start by adding a cross fade here. So that’s just to kind of like introduce the picture and bring it in, kind of set the mood here.

[Music Playing]

All right, so this picture I’m going to say I want to do a zoom in a little bit. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to bring this play head over here to the beginning, to the start of this piece of footage. I’m going to set a key frame for the scale. Now once I set a key frame for the scale, once again I clicked on this stopwatch here. It sets a key frame and now you have these envelopes here and that will show you the increase. So basically what I want to do is not go to the end of this piece of footage and if you hold down shift while you’re moving the play head it will snap to the end, so that’s good.

Now I want to decrease this. I want to decrease this scale to about 100 percent or actually, you know what, yeah, that’s going to shrink it below. So you know what, I’m going to decrease the frame size to where it’s just covering the edges of it because we don’t’ any of these, you know, these like black kind of – right here. If I click on this and I – you know you don’t want this black border so you just want to kind of bring it where you know, just covers that so you don’t have to deal with any of that. So okay, that’s fine, 50 percent. So now I set a key frame and this is going to pull out.

[Music Playing]

Now if you decide that that’s not the look that you want – and we have a little extra key frame here so I’m just going to delete that, delete that. Press the plus and minus keys to zoom in. We don’t need this and I’ll get rid of these. So if you wanted to zoom in instead of pull out then what you could do is clicking here, hit the minus key to minimize this, and drag this key frame all the way to then end. And then you can go back to the beginning because this key frame is at 120.4 right now. So what you want to do then is bring it, this picture again all the way in. Like we did in the last key frame bring it all the way in until it just covers the bounding box here so you don’t get that black border. Now it automatically sets a key frame. If you adjust the picture frame here it automatically creates a key frame.

All right. So now if we play this back you’ll notice that it zooms in. And I think I like that look a little bit better.

[Music Playing]

I’m just going to increase this so I can see if the zoom speed is what I want.

[Music Playing]

Okay, we could probably go with something a little bit more so I’m just going to click on this key frame. And if you hit these two arrows over here like this one will bring it to the last key frame, the next key frame, or the previous key frame. So you can just toggle back and forth between the key frames. So I’m just going to hit this arrow here and it just brought me to that key frame. And I’m going to want to maybe increase the size here or the scale so that I can have it zoom in just a little bit more. Now I can either grab this number, click on the number and drag or I can grab the handle here in the window and drag. But I’m probably going to keep it somewhere around 132 is good.

[Music Playing]

And I’m just going to check to see if that’s the speed that I want. Now that’s a little too fast for me so once again I’m just going over here and, I don’t know, maybe 129. Let’s check that.

[Music Playing]

It’s still a little bit too fast for me so I’m going to go with – once again, don’t forget to hit the arrow to go back to that key frame because you want to adjust this key frame. If you adjust when the play heads in the middle you’ll see it creates another key frame there and that’s not what we want. So go back to that key frame, 129, I’m going to say 127 is probably going to be good.

[Music Playing]

Okay, so that’s good. I like that. That’s a good speed in my opinion. So what I’m going to do here is now I’m going to find another picture and just drag that, drop that into the timeline, and drop that in here. And make sure it lines up with the picture. So now I’m just going to kind of create a cross feed between these two. I’m just going to get rid of this one here, all right.

[Music Playing]

So, okay, now what I want to do is create a cross feed between these two images and then go to the start of the second image. Click on it so that I bring up the effects, go into the motion menu, and set a key frame for scale once again. Because what I want to do is I want to zoom in on this. So if I go back here another good technique is too click on this and see okay, you started at 110 about and then you went all the way up to 127. So that’s about a 17 percent increase. So you want to kind of maybe even match that for this picture. Of course you want to do it by look but the whole number system may help out.

So okay, this is, let’s see, once again this is smaller so let’s just bring this up a little bit. Just so it covers the black area. Just click outside here. Yeah, okay, so that’s good. So now we have a key frame here and I’m just going to drag it all the way to the beginning so that it starts at the beginning of when our footage comes in.

[Music Playing]

And we’re at 144 so you want to kind of keep it around the same thing maybe a 16 percent increase. So let’s bring it up a little bit and, I don’t know, we’ll bring this to 160 just, you know, just to see if it works. If it doesn’t we’ll adjusts it. So this zooms in. Cross fade between the two. And that’s zooming. And that seems a little bit too fast for my taste so let’s just go back to this key frame right here. And we’ll bring this down to about 158 and I think that’s going to work for this. Of course you may want to render it out. That red render bar right here it may cause the footage to play back choppy. So I like that. That’s good. That speed is good for me.

So now that we’ve zoomed let’s do one with a pan across. So we’re going to take this still picture right here, drop it in there, shorten it up a bit.

[Music Playing]

And do the same thing. Now you see this is gigantic. It’s like zoomed in all the way, so let’s go down to 25 percent and just kind of, you know, adjust the size to something that we think works well. Also keeping in mind that we need room to move left and right so make sure that you don’t bring it down to here because then you barely have any room unless you want to expose some black border here but you really don’t want to do that. So just, you know, increase it to a size where you think is good. And I think right there is good. I’m going to set the position right here.

I’m going to open up the motion menu, bring this all the way to the beginning. And set a position key frame this time. And now I’m going to bring this all the way to the last frame here. And I’m going to move the picture on the X-axis. Remember if you know anything about math this is the X-axis and this is the Y-axis. X-axis is horizontal. Y-axis is vertical. So what you want to do is adjust this so that the picture moves. And you know what, I’m going to bring this back to the beginning because I actually don’t like the starting point. So I’m just going to click in here and set the starting point to maybe around there. I like that. That works for me. And then we’re going to move all the way over. We’re going to delete this key frame and just do what we did before move the X position. You don’t want to move it too much. Again you want the pan to kind of match the zoom speed. So let’s increase this and see what happens.

[Music Playing]

Oh, let’s add a cross fade here to make it just blend a little bit better.

[Music Playing]

And now that I’ve added that cross fade we have a little bit of head room here so I’m just going to grab this key frame and move it all the way to the left so that it starts panning once it starts fading in.

[Music Playing]

Okay. So now that I look at this again I don’t really like the start position. So what I’m going to do is just bring it back to the beginning and just shift this over a little bit. I’m just going to delete this cross fade just to give me some room here. And I’m just going move this over maybe around there. I think that’s good. And then just have this shift over a little bit more maybe around there. I’m going to add that cross fade back in and delete that previous key frame from that cross fade and move this one over. All right, now let’s see how this plays out.

[Music Playing]

So that’s good. I like that. Now I’m going to add this next picture and add cross fade. And I’m just going to scale this picture to where I think I like it. And bring this down to about 50 percent. So I guess right there. And now we’re going to zoom out. So I’m going to start, set a key frame on the scale and then move this all the way over to the end of this picture, and they zoom out a bit. I’m sorry, zoom in a bit.

[Music Playing]

Yeah, a little more dramatic when it zooms in. That’s a little too slow for me so I’m just going to jump to this last key frame and increase this just a bit. So maybe that will increase the speed of the zoom.

[Music Playing]

All right. Okay, so everything’s is basically feeling. You have to get the feel for it. If you, you know, let’s just render out this sequence and I just want to talk – well, that’s rendering – I just want to talk to you guys about like the feeling. You don’t want to do it too fast or have pans and zooms too quick because it’s just going to look bad. You want it to blend and you want it to be smooth and subtle. You don’t really want it to shoot across the screen unless that’s the kind of effect you’re going for. But you know in an opening title sequence like this or any kind of like intro sequence or things like that you kind of want it to be smooth. You won’t want to have any jagged or sudden movements or fast movements to take the audience out of the mood and then you know, then they’ll wonder like well, that just kind of stood out. That just went way too quickly. You’ll see what I mean. I’ll give an example. I’m just going to set this to fit and now that it’s rendered it should play back in full frame rate.

[Music Playing]

Okay. So now as I was talking about let’s say you have this and you made the pan way too fast, let’s say. Let’s move this over. And, you know, you made the pan like insanely fast.

[Music Playing]

Like even that it’s kind of jarring. So you don’t want to do that to the audience. But, yeah, let’s just go for something extreme like, I don’t know, 700 on this. And I’m going to render that out and then we can watch that play back and you’ll see what I mean when it’s just, you know it just stands out. It’s too jarring and the audience is just going to be like what is that. It’s going to look; it’s like nails on a chalkboard. So okay, now that this is rendered out let’s go back and play it and you’ll see what I mean.

[Music Playing]

So this is a nice smooth zoom. Same with this one. Nice transition. And then when you have a slow transition and then all of sudden boom, that’s’ like really distracting. And plus the motion too, if you notice in the motion here is like kind of smooth. If I play this back it’s kind of smooth, you know. If you go too quickly it’s very like stuttery in a way. So you kind of want to avoid fast zooming and fast panning because it’s just going to look really ugly.

So I hope you guys enjoyed this tutorial. It’s something that just takes practice so just keep on practicing. Cut to different types of music, different types of music require different types of zooms and pans and animation, maybe rotations and things like that. It all depends on the music. If you’re cutting to something upbeat you can do more drastic and fast movement as long as they blend well. Or if you’re cutting to something slow it just has to be nice and slow and you know, not too jarring.

All right. So once again this is Paul Del Vecchio. You can catch me at or And thanks again for joining us. This is Paul Del Vecchio once again for Triple E Productions and Video Maker Magazine. Talk to you guys soon.
[End of Audio]