Photo Motion Animation 2.5D Effect Using Only Preview and Keynote

You can add a motion effect to a 2D photo without buying expensive software. By using Preview to cut a photo into layers and Keynote to animate them, you can make a photo come to life. This simple parallax animation effect can be used on all sorts of photos to create interesting videos or animated GIFs.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Photo Motion Animation 2.5D Effect Using Only Preview and Keynote.

Hi, this is Gary with Today I'm going to show you how to take a 2D image like this one and add 3D motion effects to it.

So online you'll find lots of tutorials that show you how to create a 2.5D motion effect or 3D motion effect or sometimes it's called parallax motion with a 2D image like this. It usually involves using Photoshop and then maybe After Effects or Apple Motion or other expensive software. You take the image and break it into layers, bring it into a 3D scene and move the camera through it. Well, I'm not going to show you any of that. I'm going to show you how to do basically the same thing but using Preview, which you already have on your Mac, and Keynote which you either have or can get for free from Apple.

So first you need to start with an image that's like this. This is a beautiful landscape I took while hiking in New Zealand. You can see there's a foreground here at the ground right under my feet that's at the bottom. There's a mid ground, this mountain here that was just a fantastic color of green. Plus you've got background. You've got these mountains that are far away and the clouds and the sky. So we're going to first setup a Keynote document to hold the different layers.

In Keynote I'm going to create a standard size presentation with a white background. The reason I want standard, not wide, is because pictures are generally 4 x 3. Wide would give us a 16 x 9 ratio. I'll choose it. I'm going to get rid of the extra bits of text. I don't need those. I'm going to zoom out a bit so I have a nice area that I can work with. So now that we have a Keynote document ready I'm going to switch back to Preview and I'm going to cutout the different layers.

But the first layer I don't need to do any cutting because it's the entire thing. I'm going to use this as the background. So I'm going to do Command A to select all. Command C to copy. Switch back to Keynote and Command V to paste it in. Now I'll go back to Preview. Now I'll need to cutout the background. To do that I'm going to turn on the Markup Tools here. I'm also going to zoom out a little bit so I've got some more space to work with. Then I'm going to choose the tool Smart Lasso and I'm going to draw along the border between the mid ground and the background. I'm going to draw this red line here and divide those.

Now I don't want to select the mid ground. I want to actually select the background because I want to delete it. So I'll go outside the edges and do that. Now that I've got that selected I'll hit the Delete key and I'm going to get a message telling me it needs to be converted to a png since it's a jpeg. That's fine. I'll hit Convert. Now you can see the background has been cutout. There's these little edges that Preview leaves behind. But that's find for what we're doing. I'm going to do Command A, Command C and switch over and Command V to paste in and nothing seems to happen. The reason is because it's a perfect match over this image. But if I were to drag the front here you can see I actually have this other layer. I'll do Command Z to Undo my movement there and put it right back in place.

So now I'll do the same thing but I'm going to cutout the foreground. I'll go along this line here and select everything but the foreground. Delete. Command A, Command C, switch back, and Command V to paste in. I've pasted this layer in now. So now I've got my three layers. To use these three layers to create motion what we're going to do is create two slides and we're going to use Magic Move to animate between them. So we're going to reposition the foreground and mid ground and leave the background the same between the two slides. Then we're going to scale them a little bit, move them a little bit, so when they animate from one slide to the next it looks like you're actually moving a little bit through the scene.

We'll go and create the second slide by using Control click and then Duplicate and now we have the second slide here. I want to select the mid ground and move it around to make sure I have it and Command Z to put it back in place. I'm going to grab the handle here at the top and drag up. That's going to scale up that mid ground. By dragging up on the top here I know I'm going to cover the mountain that's on the background image. Now I'm going to do the same thing with the foreground but I'm going to do it a lot more because it's going to look exponentially closer. Scale that up. I don't know if these are perfect but I can play with them later. I can look at the first slide and the second slide and it looks like I've gotten a little bit closer to the scene.

So let's add the animation. I'll go to the Animate sidebar, Add an Effect, Choose Magic Move. You can see it shows me a preview there. Right away you want to set the duration to something more. I'll go with 5 seconds for now. You also want to set the acceleration from Ease In and Ease Out, which is great for presentations and things but for animations like this I just want to set it to None. So now I can preview it by hitting the Preview button. Now it does look like I'm flying a little bit through the scene. I can continue to adjust a little bit. So, for instance, I can select the mid ground there. Move it down just a little bit. Not enough so it reveals the mountain behind it, the duplicate of itself. The same thing with this one. I'll move it down a little bit. Not enough so that it reveals what's behind it. There. So now I might have a little bit better of an animation. That looks great! What I want to do is I want to make it even longer. Five seconds is too fast. The movement should be really subtle and slow.

So now that I have the animation setup all I need to do is export it. I could choose File, Export To, and use the new animated GIF feature. That will create something really nice. But I'm going to go and just do a video for this. I want to have all the slides and I don't want to have any delays in here. So I'm going to do Go To The Next Slide After to zero seconds. The Next Build to zero seconds. Resolution, I want to choose a resolution that's 4 x 3 so the 720 and the 1080 are out. They're 16 x 9. I can do a custom one or just use the default one that's there. Now I'll export it as a file to the desktop.

Let's take a look at the final result here as a video. You can see it creates some nice subtle motion to bring the scene to life. This is just the beginning. You can try this with all sorts of different images with all sorts of different layers that you break it into. For instance a person can be in the forefront or maybe a bird that was flying by and you can have the bird move subtly from side to side. The great thing is we were able to do this without having to buy any expensive software.

Comments: 5 Responses to “Photo Motion Animation 2.5D Effect Using Only Preview and Keynote”

    1 week ago

    So that’s how it’s done!

    1 week ago


    I think I’m going to make one
    of these animations to draw
    more attention
    to my ‘pinned’ tweet.

    Maybe you could do an
    additional video on
    what form to save in
    and how to add to twitter … ?

    1 week ago

    Bob: I’d try a GIF and see how that works.

    1 week ago

    OMG Gary, this is so, so cool! Can’t wait to try this today! Many thanks indeed :-)

    Seth R
    1 week ago

    Great tip Gary, thanks!!

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