MacMost Now 341: Beyond the Ken Burns Effect

The Ken Burns Effect in iMovie 09 is the default setting for photos inserted into an iMovie project. But you can use it for more than just adding a little motion. You can pan and zoom to focus on objects or move along an image. You can even zoom in and then back out and other similar effects.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 341: Beyond the Ken Burns Effect.

Hi, this is Gary Rosenzweig and in today's episode lets look at using the Ken Burns Effect in iMovie 09 to create special effects .
So you might know the Ken Burns Effect : it's when you drop a photo in iMovie to use as a slide and then it gradually pans and zooms that photo just ever-so slightly give it some motion . It's the default effect whenever you drop a photo in iMovie .
So let's take a photo and move it into our iMovie project. Now you can take it by clicking on the photo button, here and choosing from your collection in iPhoto or you can drag it from the finder .
I'm going to drag one from the finder into the project area here . Now as soon as i do that , i can see that i can see I've got it here in the preview area and if i scan along it , i will be able to see a slight Ken Burns Effect which is the default . So I'm going to actually move along and i can see it zooms in as i get further down . It's just a 4 second clip . If i select the image and click on the little Crop button or pres "C" i can see I've got "Fit" , "Crop" and "Ken Burns" options , "Ken Burns" is set by default and I've got this green area and red area . You'll see that it's going to zoom from the green area into the red area and that's what determines what the effect looks like . It's also a little off centered , you can see it's going to move slightly .
So the Ken Burns Effect is named after Ken Burns , a documentary film maker who uses a lot in some of his classic documentaries , such as the ones on baseball , jazz and civil war .
Now, you can alter this effect in iMovie to make it more than just a basic Ken Burns Effect . You can use it for other things . Let's take a look !
So here i dropped in a very vertical photo and the random Ken Burns Effect is being applied to it , is a "start" and "end" that aren't to far apart from each other ,basically zooming out a bit . If i run it , i get this . But since this is a very vertical photo and it's an areal shot , we can do something different with it . We can have a "start" at the bottom , zoomed out as far as possible, i can grab the ends there and we can "End" zoomed in at a very specific spot further up. We'll kinda make it look like we're flying into the photo .
Now one of the beautiful things about the Ken Burns Effect is that it allows you to take a still photo and narrate over it for a longer period while still holding the viewers interest , even tough their just looking at one picture .
So, for instance , we can be talking about this lighthouse and we can start at the bottom of it and zoom up .
To set the duration of the effect , we select the clip in the project up here . We can get the information on it . I just press "I" and we get the Inspector and you have a duration right here and you can change it that so you can slow down and do it over 20 seconds . Let's try to get even more creative . Here i have a photo that I'm zooming on one person . I look at how I've set the Ken Burns Effect , I've centered the "end" frame here , "start" frame start all the way in the entire thing . Now i've selected in the project and now i'm going make two copies of it . Like that ! So i have the same thing repeated 3 times . But i'm going to select the second copy , go to the "Cropping" and i'm going to change ... there's a little button , it's kinda hidden under the crop mark that flips the "Start" and "end" . Click on that ! And now the start is actually the close in shot . And i'm going to switch to "Crop" , and that will take this "start" frame and make it the static crop , it won't have the Ken Burns Effect . So , now when i look at what's going to happen it zooms in and then the next part just freezes basically on the same frame . Now that last part i'm going to do just a full switch and now the "Start" is the "End" so now what i've got is : it zooms in , freezes and then zooms back out . And that i can continue , say with another one that it zooms in on another player and i can do it for a while using one photo for several minutes of video with Audio narration .
So that shows you how you can take a simple cropping effect in iMovie 09 and do a lot with it . It can really make a slide show that only features a few photos a lot more interesting for a class or presentation .
I like to see Apple take the Ken Burns Effect even further in future version of iMovie maybe allowing to zoom even further in the image or allowing you to have have more than just a "Start" and "end" point in the effect.
Hope you found this useful . Till next time , this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now .

Comments: 20 Responses to “MacMost Now 341: Beyond the Ken Burns Effect”

    9 years ago

    There is a third party app, Photo to Movie, that gives more control over the Ken Burns effect when one is just using still images in a movie. I’ve used it and it’s pretty nifty.

      9 years ago

      This sounds great. How can I get it?

    Todd A. Peperkorn
    9 years ago

    What a great screencast! Thank you. I had no idea about that level of control. Can you do any of those controls via iPhoto?

    9 years ago

    Hi Gary, and thanks for these excellent tips. Is there a way to change the limits of the Ken Burns boxes? For example, I would like the starting one to be the full frame and the ending box to be almost a single point, thus making a scene vanish over another background image.

    Thanks again

      9 years ago

      You can adjust the start point (green box) and end point (red box) by dragging them and resizing them in the preview pane (upper right) of iMovie. But there are limits. You can’t go down to a single point. And you can’t make it “vanish” as the Ken Burns effect doesn’t work that way — it doesn’t shrink the resulting space, only the space used.
      If you want something more, you’ll have to switch to a pro solution like Final Cut with Motion, etc.

    8 years ago

    Hi Gary!
    Thanks a lot for your video! My question is : is there anyway to repeat the Ken Burns effect settings on other pictures? Because it would take toooooo loooooong to make the settings manually if I have 100 pictures in a project.
    Thanks a lot

      8 years ago

      So you want exactly the same start and end points for 100 photos? No, I don’t think there is a way to replicate them. But I’ve never tried. So experiment. But I’d imagine that it would not be a good effect if it was the same start and end point for 100 photos in a row.

    8 years ago

    I am making a movie and using the ken burns effect. The starting green box is too small. I want it to begin at the edge of the photo. The program won’t let me adjust the green box to show an entire vertical photo. It has a landscape setting. Is there a way to change the start to a portrait setting? Thus, getting a vertical photo to begin as the whole photo? Additionally, when I have a landscape photo, the green box won’t let me change the ratio so I am missing the edges of the photo. Is there a way to customize the beginning green box?

      8 years ago

      You are limited by what will fit in the frame with no empty space. So your only option is get creative. For instance, you can bring the photo into a program like Photoshop and put it at the center of an even larger image.

    Susan Dixon
    7 years ago

    Is there any way to have a photo spinning in iMovie 11? Thanks

      7 years ago

      Spinning? Not sure what that would look like. I can’t recall an effect like that in iMovie.

      7 years ago

      Susan – depending on the kind of spin you want, you could use the “spin in” or “spin out” transition.

        7 years ago

        Just saw what you actually want … never mind :-)

    7 years ago

    I have a picture of a crop circle, and I want it to spin within the photo in the video.

      7 years ago

      You’d need to use some animation software to create something like that.

    7 years ago

    Very helpful. Thanks for the tips.

    7 years ago

    At 3:45 of your tutorial video, you make a zoom on your computer screen, which is exactly what I’m looking for… Kind of a Ken Burns effect, but on “moving” video… Not stills… Just like those “most shocking videos” shows, where they zoom on police chases and such…
    Can you make that effect with iMovie? And also, do you know an iPhone app that does this?
    Thanks for your time.

      7 years ago

      I’m doing that by switching between shots in Wirecast. But you can do that using the technique in this very tutorial. Of course you have the problem of resolution — if you zoom in to show a portion of a video, it will have to stretch the video to fit on the screen and it will be lower quality. Nothing you can do about that. But if you are OK with it. I don’t know of an iMovie app off-hand.

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