The Ken Burns Effect

The only problem with using still photos in a movie is that they’re still. They just sit there without motion or sound, wasting much of the dynamic potential of video.

For years, professionals have addressed the problem using special sliding camera rigs that produce gradual zooming, panning, or both, to bring photographs to life.

But this smooth motion isn’t just about adding animation to photos for its own sake. It also lets you draw the viewer’s attention where you want it, when you want it. For example: “Little Harry graduated from junior high school in 1963”—slow pan to someone else in the school photo, a little girl with a ribbon in her hair—“little suspecting that the woman who would one day become his tormentor was standing only a few feet away.”

Among the most famous practitioners of this art is Ken Burns, the creator of PBS documentaries like The Civil War and Baseball—which is why Apple named the feature after him.

You can endow any still graphics file with this kind of motion, either at the moment when you place it or import it from your hard drive, or anytime thereafter.

Applying the Ken Burns Effect

In this example, you’ll animate a photo that’s in the Photos pane.

  1. Select the photo.

    Actually, you can select more than one, to process all of them in the same way.

  2. Open the Photo Settings palette (Section Turn on the Ken Burns Effect checkbox, if necessary. Specify how long you want the picture to remain onscreen.

    Use the Duration controls, ...

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