Creating the Ken Burns Effect

Create the infamous Ken Burns effect in Blender
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Creating the Ken Burns Effect

Adding movement to still images is a great way of drawing attention to some feature and add drama to a lifeless photo. Using motion and timing you can change the mood in the viewer. From slow and stately, to rapid and dynamic there are a multitude of methods to apply. For example, you can focus the viewer’s attention on a key detail by starting in a close-up then zooming out to reveal the context with the rest of the image. In this series we will be demonstrating a couple of techniques for resizing images. We will find ways to overcome the Blender VSE’s weakness in this area. We will discover how to harness the OpenGL image drawing for blazing speed and how to use an add-on that dramatically expands the interactive ability of the VSE. Some of these lessons make use of the VSE Transform Tools add-on, which can be downloaded from here: VSE Transform Tools

Emotion in Motion

But first you should ask yourself why. Why should I add movement to this photo? Perhaps we start our camera in tight on the image of a person sleeping peacefully in the corner, but zooming out reveals that they are actually surrounded by a deafening crowd at a sporting event. This simple reveal suddenly triggers questions in the viewer, “how could they be sleeping?”, “what are they missing?” and “why doesn’t the crowd notice?”. The simple act of zooming the camera out begins a story, a conversation with your audience. The speed you choose will dictate the tension or nature of the relationship between the sleeping man and his fellow spectators. A quick ‘snap’ zoom may enhance the jarring nature of the crowd, while a gentle pull back could suggest the sleeper’s deep indifference to the situation. As you can see there are many effects to be constructed around this simple act of emphasis. How you tell the story can be a significant part of the story itself. While a reveal, or zoom out progressively adds information to a story, a zoom in can heighten the emotion of a scene. By forcing the viewer to focus on a key aspect of an image they might otherwise neglect. Or you may be altering the nature of the image by stripping away the broad features to enhance a small specific. Perhaps the photo is of a large group of bathers enjoying a day at the beach, but a closer look with the magic of zooming shows us a human drama unfold. A young child has collapsed in the sun, tended to by their mother. The act of searching for this story amongst all those people suggests the fragile nature of the individual lost in a crowd. But it could just as easy be a photo of your cat. A simple photo can say so much with just a touch of motion.


Author

David McSween