Newbie How to Add Still Photos in Documentary

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    • #37256

      Hi all!

      I’m brand new to this forum so please be patient with my inexperience. I’m in a documentary class (about narrative – not production) and had a production question. How do documentaries typically add still photo montages as B-roll images? That is, I see the common technique of showing a still photo image that slowly pans or zooms while the narrative is in the background. How is this done? How do you create that effect? You see this all the time in historical documentaries – but I can’t figure out how it is done.

    • #164972

      The old fashioned way is to set up a camera in front of the photo or drawing and shoot exactly what you’ll see in the final edit. There used to be pros in just this sort of shooting.

      The modern way scans the image into the computer & the same shots are mapped out & animated using whatever software the editor prefers. I believe most video editors (even in the less than $100 range) have this capacity. I’ve used Vegas to do this on more than one occasion. But the better the package, the more control you have over how you present the photo.

    • #164973

      Hi DJames,

      If I understand you right, it seems like your looking for the “Ken Burns Effect” or maybe something similar. The Ken Burns effect can be found in iMovie and I believe you can buy the plug-in for other editing systems too. I dont know what you are editing on but you can also create a motion path with in and out points for the picture. I hope I got what you meant, sorry if not, let me know If I can help more or in any other way.


      Nathan Maulorico

    • #164974

      Most of the editing packages available have Pan and Zoom video filters. Import the still as a high resolution JPEG or other acceptable format.Crop the still using the video filters for the starting pointand mark it start. Use the filters again tozoom and pan to your ending point and mark it end. Set thetransition timefor each filter.It is a very simple and effective way to apply motion to a static picture. The key to effective pan and zoom effects is the resolution of the still file being imported.

    • #164975

      In Magix Movie Edit Pro 14 Plus you can do it with key frames or you have a “move” button and controls to pan and move around a picture. In earlier versions of MEP you do it with Object Curves.

      Most editors will do it. It can really give life to a still. 😉


    • #164976

      Everyone has given you good advice on this topic, I would like to add two technical suggestions:

      1-Scan your still image at a high resolution, as this will give you a larger image to work with when you bring the still in to your editing/motion graphics program. Most scanners offer you a wide range of scanning resolutions I would suggest that you use 300 ppi or higher. The higher the resolution the more pixels you have to play with. With scanned images you can always make an image smaller but you can’t make it larger without a loss of quality.

      2-There are many different file types out there for still images and your scanner will probably offer you several options. I would recommend that you scan your image and save it as a .tiff (tagged image file format). The tiff format while larger than the .jpeg (joint photographic experts group) format will give you a better image quality. Jpegs are great for displaying images on the web but are not a very good format for use as a production format.


    • #164977

      Adobe After Effects makes it easy to pan and zoom. My teacher gaveus that as an assignment last semester. It’s pretty cool.

    • #164978

      I use Photo-to-Movie by LQGraphics which let’s me create a mini movie of my still pictures. Software is available for both MS and Apple platforms. You can export in various formats. I export to both iMovie and Final Cut as a Quicktime movie format. You can also add titles and sound. You have complete control over how you zoom in or out, move to any part of the picture, and you can make multiple moves around the picture. You can also add fades between pictures.

      You can download the full program to try out before you buy it.

      Go to

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