Using Keyframes in VideoStudio Pro X5 to Create Custom Pan & Zoom Effects

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When Are Keyframes Used?

If you’re just starting to experiment with all the different options you have when editing videos or creating slideshows, it’s well worth the time to learn a bit more about keyframes and how you can use them to create your own customized effects. Before we dive into a basic, but very common, example of working with these objects, let’s take a look at what they are and when you might run into them.

Basically, a keyframe is a single frame of a video that represents a key moment (hence, the name) of a transition or animation. For instance, if the text of your titling sequence gradually fades into view, that transition would have two notable keyframes – the first one would show the blank screen and the last one would show the title in full view. It’s possible that you may have additional keyframes as well, if you want to create an effect that’s more complex than the standard fade-into-view.

Sounds simple enough, so what’s the big deal? It’s quite cool actually. You can design keyframes to denote how you want your video to look at a particular point in time, and then VideoStudio Pro “fills in the blanks” for you so that the transition from one keyframe to another is smooth and professional-looking.

Common Examples of Effects That Utilize Keyframes

If you’ve applied any of the effects that come bundled with VideoStudio Pro, you may already be working with keyframes. In these instances, VSP is picking the keyframes for you and then doing the work behind the scenes to create smooth transitions between the frames. However, almost all of these effects have customization options that allow you to define your own keyframes.

Here are just a few examples:

1. Fade In or Fade Out – As we mentioned earlier, this is a very basic type of effect that uses two or more keyframes to animate the sequence between a blank screen and one with an image, or vice versa.

2. Move From One Point to Another – In slideshows, it’s common to see an effect that involves a photo first being shown on one part of the viewing area and then moving to another, like from the upper left corner to the lower right. Not only can you use keyframes to pick the starting and ending point of these transitions, but you can also use them to help define the path the image will take as it moves from one place to another.

3. Change Color – Do you want the text of your title to change from red to black, then back again? This is a pretty easy transition to create with keyframes.

4. Pan and Zoom – This type of effect is great because it’s a fairly easy way to create an illusion of motion from a still image. You can use keyframes to define areas of an image you want to pan to and zoom in on, and VSP then uses these frames to create a smooth, seamless animation.

A Working Example

Depending on the effect you’re using, you’ll have various settings you can use to define keyframes. The interface may look a little different for certain effects – for instance, you’ll have a lot more options to choose from when using NewBlue’s Picture-In-Picture filter – but the underlying concept is the same.

For our example, we’re going to take a look at using keyframes to design a custom Pan & Zoom effect. I’m choosing this effect to use as an example for several reasons. First of all, it’s an extremely common effect and it’s a lot easier to customize than many people realize. In addition to that, even though VSP has several preset Pan & Zoom effects that you can click and apply to any image, I don’t really care for them too much. So, I find that it actually saves a lot of time to build my own effects from scratch using my keyframes than to try to tweak one of those built-in presets.

Again, this is a very basic example that uses just two keyframes that you can probably whip together in a minute or two. We’ll start with a photo of a highway and create a zoom effect that mimics driving down that road.

1. Start off by dragging an image to your timeline. Right-click anywhere on the clip and select Open Options Panel.

2. The Options Panel will now be visible in the Organizer. Make sure you’re on the Photo tab and click on the radio button next to Pan & Zoom. Then click on Customize.

Now, the Pan & Zoom effect window should be on your screen, as shown above.

First note that two images are shown in this window – one is labeled Original and the other is Preview. The Original image will always show the full photo that you inserted into your timeline, while the Preview image changes, depending at what point you are on the timeline.

3. For this particular example, we don’t really want to do any panning. In order to simulate the notion of moving down the highway, we want to keep the center focus the same throughout the entire effect. The easiest way to do this is to set the center in the first frame; then right-click on that keyframe and select Copy and Paste to All. Now, adjust your bounding box so that it includes the part of the image you want to be shown when the video first begins.

4. Now, we want to change the last frame of this effect so that we keep the same center but zoom in closer. You can either click on that frame to select it manually or click on the Go to next key frame icon.

5. In this frame, since we’re leaving the center alone, all we need to do is change the size of the bounding box so that we’re zooming in on that center focal point. Here’s where the Preview window really comes in handy since you can adjust the size of the bounding box in the Original window and see how that area will look in the Preview.

6. Before selecting OK and returning to the main interface of VideoStudio Pro, click the play button and you’ll see a video of how the entire effect will look in the Preview window. This way, you can make tweaks to your effect without having to go back and forth between the filter window and the main program.

Now, if you play back the clip in VSP, you can see that this easy-to-apply effect really does make it seem like you are moving down the highway.