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Better Ken Burns Effect in Video – FCPX Tutorial 2018

Applying the Ken Burns effect is a great way to add movement to your still images, or even simulate camera moves in your video. While its very simple and easy to use, the controls available for the Ken Burns effect in Final Cut Pro are very limited. When you need a little more control, instead of using the built in Ken Burns tool, the same effect can be achieved by using Final Cut Pro’s transform tool. Hey guys, whats up. This is Serge, and welcome back to my channel for another tutorial. Before we get started, I just wanted to encourage you guys to ask any questions you have in the comments
below. I will try and get to all of them, and if your question requires more than a simple answer, I may use it for a topic for one of my future
videos. So, keep the questions and suggestions coming. When you apply the Ken Burns effect to an image or a video clip, your options are fairly limited. You pick the start frame, and your end frame, but the rest of the effect is automated. The effect is applied to your entire clip, so you can’t choose the speed of your move, you can’t pause on a specific frame, or add multiple directions. There is a workaround that lets you perform some of these moves on a still image, but it doesn’t work on video clips. What you can do though, is add a Ken Burns effect by using the transform tool, which gives you a lot more control over it. Lets take a look at the clip down in our timeline. First, let’s set the playhead at the start of the clip and open the transform controls in the viewer by pressing Shift T. We’ll start with a full shot, then scale in on our subject. With your playhead at the start of the clip, set a keyframe here to the transform parameter by clicking the keyframe button in the top
left corner. Next, move the playhead ahead about three
seconds, and scale in on the clip by clicking and dragging out on one of the corner buttons in the wire frame. Using the corner buttons will keep your clips aspect ratio, and will not distort your image. Use the center button to re-frame your image. Just this alone already makes the transform tool more versatile than the Ken Burns tool, because when using the ken burns tool, you must apply it to an entire clip. Using the transform tool, we were able to simulate our camera move for only part of the clip. But there’s more. Lets pause for a second and add another camera pan to the same clip, something that cannot be done with the Ken Burns tool. Move the playhead ahead about one second, bring up the transform controls, and add another keyframe by hitting the keyframe
button. Move the playhead again, and reposition your clip to simulate a camera
pan. You can repeat this as many times as you want. What I’ll do is scale my clip back down to the original size towards the end of my
clip. If you can’t see the control handles, you can zoom out on your clip in the viewer. You can also adjust the size and position
of your clip in the inspector by either using these sliders, or manually entering the values. Lets turn off the transform controls and take a look at our clip. The simulated camera moves still seem a little bit off. It seems a little shaky and unstable. In one of his webinars, Larry Jordan calls this the drunken sailor
effect, because it looks like a drunken sailor is operating the camera. This is because by default, Final Cut Pro ads smoothing to your keyframes. But there is a way to fix this. Bring up the transform controls again by hitting the transform button. Now in the viewer, individually select each keyframe, control click it, and instead of smooth, select linear. If, like mine, your first keyframe is hiding behind your last keyframe, you can temporarily drag it out of the way, set it to linear, and drag your keyframe back. Lets take a look at our clip now. Without the smoothing turned on, the simulated camera pans and zooms are much more precise, and no longer look like they were filmed by a drunken sailor. Depending on your needs, using the Ken Burns tool may be the easiest method for your clips, but if you need more control, using the transform tool may be your answer. If you enjoyed this video, make sure to hit the like button to let me
know. If you’re new here, check out the rest of my channel for more Final Cut Pro tutorials. New videos released weekly, so hit the subscribe button and turn on notifications so you don’t miss them. Thanks for watching, and I hope to see you back here next week.


  1. Amar Maharjan Author

    Hi mate I follow ur channel and I really like the way u present ..keep posting new video editing techniques so that we can learn by watching your tutorial .

  2. DRAGON SHOT Author

    NICE!! I
    I'll add to my list thanks……..What browser extension (aka browser plugin) that adds a layer of tools directly on top of YouTube's website do you like and use??

  3. musicmachineplayer31 Author

    Thanks Bud always a pleasure keep the good work up.

    Quick Q/ Using the transform and key frames button how do you make a title come into the centre hold it position and then quickly leave the screen.

  4. seecraig Author

    Can you show how you might handle dissolving between two clips so they appear in motion throughout the dissolve?
    First keyframe of the incoming destination clip would have to begin before the dissolve.
    The last keyframe of the outgoing clip would have to be after the dissolve ends.
    Otherwise, starting (incoming clip) and ending (outgoing clip) keyframes are at the midpoint of the dissolve.

  5. Ed Rambeau Author

    Thought you might like to see this other great technique you can use for the Ken Burns effect.

  6. Brad_Dismukes Author

    One thing the Ken Burns effect does that the transform tool doesn't is ease the velocity and position simultaneously, which the transform function won't do. It will allow easing of position but not scale which makes for a distracting effect. Am I missing something or is that all I get without having to jump into Motion to get better results? Also, thank you for sharing your experience here on the youtube, you are helping elevate the craft.

  7. Tony Okun Author

    HI Serge, so in the video the camera pans stops very abruptly, but smooth does not work giving it drunken sailer effect, so how do we make the key frame stop smoothy, like when using the Ken burns effect, the pan and zooms stop very smoothly. I know you can do it in Motion but how do you do it in FCPX? Thanks for the video!

  8. NotaRubicon Productions Author

    I've used the transform tool for this type of effect before, but that whole 'drunken sailor' thing made it look like krap.. thanks for showing how to switch the key frames to linear!

  9. Russell Swindlehurst Author

    Thanks Serge for all the tutorials that you post. I am brand new to FCPX, I used to use PP CC, but I have found FCPX easier to use. I really enjoy watching your tutorials but, at the moment most of the content goes straight over my head. I suppose in time things will become clear to me, the more I use FCPX, thanks again for taking the time to produce all the videos that you post and please keep up the good work.

  10. video724de Author

    You can use the "usual" Ken Burns in FCPX for all that, using this recipe by Ripple Training (July 2014):

  11. thenormalstate Author

    THANK YOU!!! I'm making a video for my brother's wedding and good lord I could not get the wonky transitioning to smooth out. This was exactly what I needed! Thank you so much!

  12. Helen Morin Author

    We love this, thank you, only issue it does the entire clip, can’t figure out what we are doing wrong? We tried doing only 10 seconds of clip and all 30 minutes of clip was done? Can you answer on here?

  13. Helen Morin Author

    Serge, my husband wants to know if the video is supposed to go back to original crop at the end of transformation. I say no he says yes.
    I am loving this technique, thank you so much

  14. fadethechannel Author

    early morning editing brought me here….it's amazing how small tricks and tools can help you make better videos…it's all in the details. kudos mate.

  15. Aren Goodman Author

    Hey Surge. Thans for the videos. I have a question. For the adjustment you made 3 seconds into the clip, how come you didn't need to place a keyframe there? Thanks!

  16. Dennis Lee Author

    Serge, A while back I posed a question to you in an email about creating an animated line that moves along the roads on a map from one place to another. I was worrying over that for months. I had my hunches but couldn't work it out in my head. If you answered my question, I must have missed it. Anyway, I finally worked it out after lots of trial and error…and it's far from perfect and it requires a lot of work in a draw mask.
    Step one: First you need the image of the map. Google Maps was the place to go for me but the screen grab image of an airport in a rural setting was just awful because of color (green fields, trees, and grass) and unwanted labels.  I didn't know where else to look for a map image.
    Step two: I imported and edited the image of the airport and it's surrounds into Affinity Photo; adjusted the color and eliminated all unnecessary titles. When it was done I titled it MAP-A. Then I duplicated the image (this became important later to have an exact duplicate) and drew a line on the second image that traced the path of traveling on roads from one end of the airport to the other using the Affinity pen tool in the line mode. It was a big, winding, twisting horseshoe shaped line that followed country roads and urban streets and I colored the line blue and called that second image Map-B.
    Step Three: The two finished images were imported into Final Cut with Map-B going on the time line first followed by Map-A over top (no blue line). What was visible in the Viewer was the unlined map. A draw mask was brought onto that map. That's when the "fun" began because my draw mask contained ten control points that I adjusted dozens of times with keyframes to slowly reveal that blue line on the map below to replicate traveling from one place to another. In the animation, the pace of the moving line is a little spastic because the distance between keyframes will depend on how far the line travels before an adjustment to the mask occurs so I haven't gotten that cleaned up yet but the setting is on Linear and not Smooth, I checked.  

    The duration of this animation is a little under a half minute and it took me four months to complete…Good thing I'm retired.

  17. Harwinder Singh RupaL Author

    Help :
    When we place two photos on timeline and move both images left to right with keyframes. There is slight pause in animation when we jump from one photo to another.
    In premier we get Smooth animation
    Any fix ?

  18. Logan Quick Author

    Ok so your tip did work but when each time I split the clip. The clip I split then also zooms in and I don’t want that to happen. I have to always click on crop and reset now. How do I get this to stop.


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