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How to Use "Photo Motion" in Final Cut Pro - Part 2

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 7/1/2011

The final step in adding the illusion of motion to still photographs in your video project.

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    Adding The Motion

    Click on the motion tab in the viewer and you will see new options and a timeline that represents the time period that the clip is in. The most common types of photo motion are a slow zoom and a pan across. To achieve these effects you need to set markers at the beginning and end of the clip duration in the motion timeline. Next to the motion timeline there are four options under the Basic Motion heading. These are scale, rotation, center, and anchor point. We will not be using rotation in this photo motion tutorial because that function rotates the image as it plays.

    Next to these options on the right hand side is a little circle with a smaller circle resting in the center. Bring the bar that is used to designate where in the time line you are, to the very beginning of the clip, which is the light gray segment of the motion timeline. If you are at the beginning of the clip the photo will have a white corner marker in the left hand corner of the image in the Canvas. You click on the circles next to scale, center, and anchor point. You move the bar to the very end of the clip in the motion timeline and do the same thing. Similar to the beginning of the clip, when you are at the end the image in the Canvas will have the same corner marking but it be in the lower right-hand corner instead. These markers indicate that you are on the first or last frame of the clip. Now you have markers on both ends of the clip so that you can register a change in appearance from the beginning to the end of the clip.

    Bring the bar back to the beginning of the clip and go to the Viewer to determine exactly how you want the clip to appear in the beginning. Here you can use the Image Wireframe to adjust the image to your liking. If you are planning on doing a slow zoom it is best to just position the image so it takes up the whole screen so whatever you would like to be the focus of that image is as centered as possible. If you want to pan the image make it large enough so that one end will be cut off completely and then introduce the image so that the other side is at the edge of the frame and not cut off. Now you are going to move the bar to the end of the clip in the motion timeline and adjust the image. You can either use the Image Wireframe to make the image larger for the slow zoom, or you can change the size numerically in the scale option in the motion screen. You make the image larger, but not too large because if there is too much of a dramatic change in size it will be a very quick zoom. If you are doing a pan you simply drag the image from one side to the other so the edge that was originally showing is now cut off on its side and the side that was originally cut off is now showing. Once these have been se,t go to the actual Timeline and play the image and the change in position should be shown as occurring gradually. Make sure to render the clip before viewing it, otherwise it will appear choppy and it will be hard to tell if you did it on purpose.

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    A Rainbow of Options

    There are a variety of different styles to do this in, and these are just the most basic of the photo motion arsenal. You can have the photo twist while it zooms, pan and zoom into a small area of the image, or change the zoom speed over the course of the clip. Once you are able to do these basic functions you can play with it and customize the photo motion to fit your needs perfectly. The best way to approach this type of tool is to do the largest variety of photo motion that will fit with the scenario, but not bore the viewer with repetitive image techniques. Still images can be a great type of “B-Roll" to use in any type of project, and allowing them to move just slightly will keep up the energy of the film and keep the still image from appearing static.