How to pan in an image (Ken Burns effect)

Ken Burns effect consist in zooming and/or panning in an image. This effect give the possibility to take maximum advantage of a single still picture. Note that this picture should be large enough.

Let’s take a big image on the internet.

We find really nice photos on flickr! Look this one I found ==> panorama (original size). It was made by Jasmin Cormier and released under creative commons license.

Now we prepare our project and load the image. Settings -> Format : 720×576, 25 fps. Then Settings -> Preferences -> Recording tab. In “Video in” set the import images duration to 10 seconds for example. My total project actually last 49 seconds due to the sound track I chose. As usual this part is up to you considering the effect you want to create. Now we load the file: File -> Load files. We choose the image and take Replace current project as insertion strategy. OK. The image is now right on the timeline with a duration of 10 seconds. Let’s give it a longer duration (50 s for example) by using the little arrow that appear at the edge of the picture in the video track. Done? If done by playing the timeline you will see only one picture that doesn’t move during 50s. Last thing: activate the Generate keyframes while tweeking button 

OK. Let’s give that some movement! To accomplish this mission we will use the camera tool and keyframing. Keyframing? Yes. It’s the operation that consist in choosing two different events at two points of the time and letting the software calculate the intermediate events by himself. Clear? No? Just follow me:

  • Go at the beginning of you project (ie time = 00.00.000). In the compositor window, activate the camera tool (Adjust camera automation)… and now the tool Info (the question mark button). In the dialogue box that appear enter these values: X:518.9438 , Y:135.6880 , Z:3.0000. This will zoom on the water-closet and make it appear at the bottom right of the screen.
  • In the timeline window use now the manual go to tool to go the instant of time 7s. Then in the camera tool dialogue box enter these values : X:497.9438 , Y:-117.3120 , Z: 2.5000. The compositor window shows now the paper.
  • Let’s do the same at the time 13s with the following values: X:-20.0562 , Y:-128.3120 , Z:2.8000.
  • Done? Now go to the beginning of your project and play the whole thing.
  • You got it.

Well this project is a bit complex to continue this tuto till the end. You know now how to use the camera tool and you are aware of what keyframing is. Almost all effects in Cinelerra are keyframable.

Additional informations: You can view the keyframes you created and the curves symbolising the camera with View –> Camera X,Y or Z. For a comfortable view click on the Fit all autos to display button. Here is an extract of my project:

Good job. Add some other effects to ameliorate the image. Why not some blurs?

You’re done.

13 thoughts on “How to pan in an image (Ken Burns effect)

  1. Nice job, Roland! I like the new educational blog. That Yahoo pipes feature for news updates is pretty sweet.

    Keep up the good work.

    ps – who cleaned up the bathroom after you made that mess?

  2. Ciao Roland!

    This effect is impressive! I never imagined just panning and zooming could be so expressive! Maybe the music helped as well.


  3. Very nice blog,
    I hope to be able to contribute some stuff later on. To pan an image of large enough resolution seems to be quite good for presentations as well. Thanks a lot.

    Best regrads


  4. Hi, I’m having trouble following your instructions in Cinelerra 4 on Ubuntu. The Settings -> Preferences -> Recording tab doesn’t appear to have a “Video in” setting to set the import images duration. Is your example drawn from the same version? Many thanks for posting the info in the first place. I’ve been looking everywhere for a Linux-based video editor that can do a Ken Burns effect.

  5. Hi steve,

    I didn’t succeed to install Cin4 yet. I’m still using the 2.1 version here. I’m not really sure but I think the function you are talking about is in Cin4 too. In 2.1 version you can’t see it directly, it’s a gui problem. You have to use Alt-leftclick to drag to Settings window.
    Cinelerra is not the only open source program which can make this effect. I think you can do it with Jahshaka, the Blender video sequencer or even Synfig but I find the Cinelerra’s interface easier to learn.

    Good luck steve

  6. What does this mean?
    “The compositor window shows now the paper.”

    My compositor window shows a fragment from the center of my still photo, and I can’t get it to move from there at all.

    • Hi Gord,

      I was referring to the paper in “my” picture. The paper in the bathroom, close to the water closet.
      Follow the tutorial with this image…

      Hum I think I got it: Flickr changed the resolution of the images. The photo was originally at 1254×533 pixels. It is now at 640×272! I have now added a link to the original size. Thanks for having pointed it out.

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