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Moving Images: Premiere's Image Pan Effect

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Moving Images: Premiere's Image Pan Effect

By Antony Bolante, author of Premiere 6: Visual QuickStart Guide

What's the difference between the documentary The Civil War and a slide show lecture on the same topic? Quite a bit, even if both contained the same information and images. One would attract an audience of millions; the other would draw a roomful of people (at best), who would squirm in their seats until they could slip out unnoticed. The difference, in a word: presentation.

Could the clunky slide carousel slowly zoom in on the face of Lincoln as a voiceover described the doomed president's last living moments? Could it fade to black as we heard the fatal gunshot?

No. But professional film and video productions can employ a “motion-controlled” camera to pan over and zoom in on flat artwork. You can get similar results with your scanner, Premiere's Image Pan effect, and a little know-how. By bringing still images into a Premiere project, you can pan over a photo gradually to the point of interest; pull out to reveal context; or zoom in to heighten tension. (Note that you can't achieve these effects with Premiere's Motion Settings feature. On the downside, you won't be able to rotate the image, and keyframing is a little trickier.)

Best of all, you don't need to be a documentarian to use the image pan techniques covered in the following tutorial. You can apply the same principles to a video scrapbook, a school assignment --any project that might have tempted you to trot out the old slide projector.

A word of advice: If you plan to export your project as full-screen video, realize that rendering times can be lengthy, depending on your computer setup. At smaller output sizes, however, the effects should process quickly, and take up little hard drive space. And if you have Premiere 6 Visual QuickStart Guide, use the cross-references to find out more about a particular topic or technique. Enjoy.

If you'd like to follow along with this tutorial, I've included a Macintosh and Windows project folder. Each download is about 1.5MB. The project folder contains the completed version of the tutorial, plus two other clips and a transition; it also includes two title cards in PDF.

NASA photos included in this tutorial are for purposes of illustration only. Use of NASA photos does not imply the endorsement of NASA or any NASA employee of a commercial product, process, or service. You can find these and other NASA images here.

Prepare your still image:

  1. Envision your “camera move.

    Take a moment to imagine how you would like the sequence to look. Do you want to zoom into the image, zoom out, or pan across it?

  2. Scan or resize the artwork for your project.

    How closely will you zoom into the image? The pixel dimensions of that area should match (or exceed) the pixel dimensions of the final output. Don't worry so much about dpi--a measurement system best applied to print media. Concern yourself with the pixel dimensions of the image: the number of pixels wide versus the number of pixels high.

    In this example, the simulated camera will zoom out from a close-up to a wide shot. Because the image dimensions of the final output will be 320x240, the close-up portion of the image should be at least 320x240 (Figure 1). If the dimensions of the close-up are less than those of the final output, the pixels will show, and the image will look blocky. On the other hand, don't go overboard and make the image a lot larger than you need.

    Figure 1 photo by NASA / scanned by Kipp Teague

  3. Edit the image before you import it into Premiere.

    If you need to retouch the image, do it now. Though you can crop and color-correct the image in Premiere, you'll save yourself rendering time if you do it beforehand.

    If you plan to output your Premiere project to video, make sure the colors aren't too saturated for television display (see page 535 of Premiere 6: VQS). Also, remember that televisions “overscan” the image, cropping off the outer edges, so keep important elements within the inner 90% of the image (the “action safe” zone) and titles within the inner 80% (the “title safe” zone). (See page 534 of Premiere 6: VQS.)

    Save the image in a format compatible with Premiere, such as TIF or JPEG.

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