Create a Motion Path Using the Pan & Zoom Tool in Premiere Elements 11
Creating a motion path with the Pan & Zoom tool
The Pan & Zoom tool is a fairly recent feature added to Premiere Elements. In fact, it's one of only several ways to create what we call the Ken Burns effect. That's the panning and zooming over a photo to make your slideshows seem almost alive. But it's a welcome innovation to the program. With it making motion paths couldn't be easier. Now, before we get into the tool itself, there are a couple of things I want to say about using photos in Premiere Elements. One is before you bring a photo into Premiere Elements, go to your Preferences. If you are using a Macintosh, your Preferences are listed under the program name in the upper-left of the program.
If you are using a PC, go to Edit and select Preferences, and on the General page look for the option Default scale to frame size. Uncheck that. When that option is checked any photos that you bring into the program will be automatically down-resed and scaled to fit the video frame. We don't want that. We want to have the photos in their original resolution so we can do a little pan and zooming across them. If you do bring in a photo before you uncheck that option, you can also do it manually: uncheck the option by right- clicking on the photo on your timeline and selecting Scale to Frame Size to uncheck it.
One other thing I'd like you to do: I recommend that if you are going to use a photo in a standard-resolution video project, make sure the photo is no larger than 1000 x 750 pixels. If you are going to use it in a high-definition project, make sure your photo is no larger than 2000 x 1500 pixels. If you don't do that, the program is going to have to expend a lot of energy to down-resing the photo to fit into your project. If you don't uncheck that option, any photos you add to the program will come in at full resolution.
Photos coming from a large, high- resolution still camera, like a 3-gig or even on up to a 10-gig camera can be massive in this program, and that can mean the program has to expend a lot of resources to resing that photo down. If you're using your photos at an optimum size--1000 x 750 for standard resolution, 2000 x 1500 for a high resolution--the photos will be at an optimal size. The program can operate much more efficiently, and you'll get much better performance out of the program.
That said, let's take a look at a photo we have on our timeline here, our image 1024. And if the photo looks like it might be a little cropped down--the farmer is kind of cut out of the picture and the bucket is kind of cut out of that picture-- it's because he is at 1000 x 750 pixels and the video frame is only 720 x 480. If I double-click it on my timeline to open it up in the Clip Monitor, you can see that the photo is actually a little bit larger than the image we're seeing in the video frame. If I click on it here in the video frame, you can see the bounding box that actually does extend a little bit outside the video frame, and that's good.
That gives us some room for some panning and zooming. So let's open up the Pan & Zoom tool. It's located on the Action bar along the bottom of the program. You just click on the Tools button. Make sure before you open the tool that you have a clip selected on the timeline. If you don't, you'll see something like this. So select your clip on the timeline and then click on Tools. Scroll down if you need to and select the Pan & Zoom tool. The Pan & Zoom tool could not be more intuitive. You simply set where you'd like the pan and zoom to begin and set where you'd like it to end.
Now, before we get into changing the positions of these two panels, there is one thing that's a default setting in the Pan & Zoom that I don't particular like. It's up to you whether or not you keep it, but I'll show you how to turn it off anyway. In the upper-left corner of the first panel, you see something where it says HOLD: 1s, then also a hold at the end on the last frame. And you can see it represented on the timeline below our Pan & Zoom preview. See that 1 second that's light green and the 1 second that's light green at the end on either side of our five-second Pan & Zoom? I don't like those.
I don't want my Pan & Zoom to be a one-second hold and then the pan and zoom begins and then it stops for another second. If you don't like that, here's how you turn it off. There are two ways to do it. One way is the manual way so we can go to either at the beginning or the end frame. When you hover your mouse over it you can see the one-second delay up there. Click on it and when the Option panel opens up, change that to 0. Do it again for the end. If you want to turn it off permanently so that it never pops up again whenever you create a pan and zoom, go up here to Settings in the upper-right corner and in Settings, just set the Pan and Zoom Hold Time to 0.
The Pan time is 4 seconds and 29 frames, which is essentially 5 seconds. Now we're all set to begin our pan and zoom. We simply select that first and drag it into position. Now, I would like my pan and zoom to begin with a close-up of the farmer's face, and I would like it to end with a wide shot showing the entire photo. So, to do that, I select the first frame and just hover my mouse over one of the corners and I get this double-headed arrow. That tells me I'm on a corner handle, and I can just drag that into position. So I can drag to make the frame smaller.
I am getting a close-up here of the farmer, and I could just drag on it to move into position. My second frame I'll select is my closing keyframe, and I'll jus widen it out so that I see the whole slide. That's basically it. I am going to drag the playhead back to the beginning and we can preview it by clicking the Play Output button at the bottom of the workspace. Now, don't worry too much about the quality right now. It looks like there is some pixelation and some combing. That's just because you're looking at a soft render of it.
Once we create a hard render out on the timeline, it will look much cleaner and when you output your slideshow it will look terrific. But if we're happy with it, we're done, and we can click the Done button. But if you want to adjust the more, you can do that too. Click on Exit Preview in the upper- right corner and we're back in the workspace, where I can continue to tweak this and tweak the positions. So, what happens if I want to make a more elaborate pan and zoom, I want to stop at one more spot along the way? So we'll start out with a close-up of our farmer, we'll widen out, we'll show the orange bucket, and then we'll widen out and see the whole picture.
That's easy enough to do. I simply position the playhead about halfway through here and click on the New Frame button over on the left side of the workspace. This creates a new keyframe and you notice now that our ending keyframe is now called 3. So, our second keyframe is called 2 and we drag it into position. I want to be able to see that bucket, and we'll widen out just a little bit. And you can see the arrow shows us the direction of our pan and zoom. We'll start with the close-up of the farmer, move down to a shot of the bucket and then widen out to see the whole frame.
Drag your playhead back to the beginning and click Play Output. Farmer, bucket, widen out. Now that looked like that was a little bit fast to me. And if I think it's a little bit fast, I can change that. Let's click Done so that we save our work. We are back out here onto the timeline. In order to make it happens more slowly, I just need to extend my clip a little bit. So I am going to hover my mouse over the right-hand side and to make my still photo run a little bit longer, I'm just going to drag it out. And you can see that little number underneath there. That's showing me how much I'm stretching it out.
I am going to stretch it out about two seconds. There you go. And now I'll go back into my Pan and Zoom workspace, Tools > Pan & Zoom. You see the keyframe is now on our timeline representing the three positions of our Pan and Zoom. I am just going to stretch them out. Instead of happening at three seconds, this will now happen at six seconds. We'll move the playhead back to the beginning of our timeline and let's take a look at what our output will look like. Click Play Output, Farmer, Bucket and then widen out to show the whole picture.
That's how simple it is. There is one more featuring in here that's worth noting, and that is--I am going to exit the preview and go back into the workspace. There also is an automatic feature that will find faces in your photos, and it will automatically create a keyframe with a close-up of the face. In this particular case, even though we could see some of the farmer's face if I click on it, it'll say Sorry no face detected. It recognizes faces and it's actually very intuitive. And so if you want to set up an automatic keyframe that goes from face to face, this is the feature that does it.
Once we are happy with the results, we just click done, we go back out to the timeline, and I recommend that you render by clicking on the Render button there in the upper-right corner of the timeline. That will show you a nice smooth rendering of what this output is actually going to look like. And you'll see it is a very nice high-quality pan and zoom: the farmer, bucket, out to the wide shot. Motion paths add a whole other dimension to your slideshows, and with them you can direct your audience to specific areas of your photo or you can help them to see the photo in a whole new way.
But above all, they breathe life into your still pictures, and they add motion and action to an otherwise static image.
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