In this short tutorial I will show you an easy way to use Adobe After Effects to add some interest to a simple pan animation through a panoramic image. You don’t need any third party plugins, we will only use build in effects. The tutorial is made for beginners who have little knowledge of After Effects. We will use CS5.5 but it will also work on previous versions. So lets get started.

Make a new composition

Make a new composition

Choose Composition/New Composition (CMD+N) to bring up the new composition dialog and change the settings to

  • Comp Name: pano (or whatever you like)
  • Preset: HDTV 1080 24
  • Resolution: Full
  • Duration: 10 sec
  • Background Color: black #000000

Click OK to generate the new Comp

Place the panoramic image into the composition

Place the panorama image into the compositionChoose File/Import/File… (CMD+I) to show the import dialog and navigate to where you have saved your panorama image. Make sure it has a high enough resolution. This one here has a width of 7087 pixel, which is more than 3 times the resolution of the video.
Now drag and drop the image from the project-panel on to the composition timeline. At the moment the image is way to large, we will fix that in the next step.

Scale down the image

Scale down the imageSelect the image layer by clicking on its name in the timeline and press the letter S to show the scale property of the layer. Adjust the scale so that the image height fits that of the video. Do that by clicking and dragging on either one of the scale values. Here the scale is set to 47%. The image is still a bit higher than the video, but thats OK.

Set the starting point of the pan animation

Set the starting point of the animationTo get the pan effect press the letter P on the keyboard, with the image still selected, to reveal its position property. Make sure the playhead is positioned at the beginning of the animation (current time = 0:00:00:00). Now adjust the x-value of the position so that the right edge of the image is just outside the video frame. You can increase the changing speed by holding down the SHIFT key while you drag, or you can decrease it by holding down the CMD key while dragging. Now press the little stopwatch icon on the left of the word Position to create a keyframe. A small yellow diamond shape at the position of the playhead shows the newly created keyframe.

Set the end point of the animation

set the end point of the animationNow move the playhead to the end of the animation and adjust the x-value of the position to move the image to the right. The left edge of the image should be a bit outside of the video frame. As you have enabled key-framing by pressing the stopwatch in the previous step, AfterEffects automatically generates a new keyframe at the playhead position with the new x-value. To see the animation you can press the space bar. But I guess it looks a bit boring. We will take care of that now.

Make an adjustment layer

make an adjustment layerChoose Layer/New/Adjustment Layer (OPTION + CMD + Y) to create an Adjustment Layer just above your image layer. Then add the Optics Compensation effect to this layer. Do that by choosing Effect/Distort/Optics Compensation. We are going to use this effect exactly the oposite way than it was designed for. We will add some sort of distortion to get a fake 3D effect, more or less…

Setup the lens distortion

setup the lens distortionNow we are going to setup the basic lens distortion. First make sure that Reverse Lens Distortion is checked. Then Change the FOV Orientation to Diagonal. I also moved the View Center a bit up (reduced the y-value) so that it is just above the horizon of the image. This step depends on the composition of the image and will add a bit more interest to the animation. Now you can play with the value for Field Of View (FOV). The higher the value the more distortion will be in the video. I choose a value of 75 to get a decent effect. Again that’s up to your taste. Finally you can check the effect by toggling it on and of. To do that, click on the litte fx icon on the left of the effects name. If you now play back the video it is already much more interesting, it has a bit of 3D feeling because of the distortion on the edges. But we are going to enhance this even more.

Animate the lens distortion

Animate the lens distortionMove the playhead to time 01:00 and make a keyframe for the FOV value of the lens distortion. Do that by clicking the stopwatch icon. Then move the playhead to the frames noted in the image and adjust the FOV to the values given. Also move the keyframes for the position of the image layer to the given frames by selecting them on the timeline and drag them to the new frame. Create a quick ram preview by pressing the zero key on the number-pad (or by pressing CTRL + O on the main keyboard). This will render the video into the ram and then play it back in real time. This is often faster than pressing the space bar because it runs on multiple cores of the CPU which renders several frames simultaneously.

Finish it off

finish it offTo finish it off, select all keyframes by clicking and dragging a rectangular selection and press F9 on the keyboard. This will turn the interpolation method of all keyframes to Easy Ease which gives an overall smooth animation.

I hope you liked the short tutorial and find a way to use it in one of your next projects. I would be glad to see the results, just write a link to your work in the comment section below.

Take care!

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