On Panning & Scanning

It’s great to have a source image that is bigger than the final frame you need, as it gives you additional flexibility to reframe it through position and scaling. You can also animate these parameters to fake pans and zooms. We’ve done this for ages with high-resolution still images; cameras such as the RED now allow you to do this with moving footage, even in hi-def projects.

The problem with this “panning and scanning” technique is that many use the Position parameter in programs such as After Effects to perform it. However, when you then change the Scale parameter as well, the image will appear to drift, as it does not scale around the center of your composition; it scales around the center of the now-repositioned source file. Therefore, you want to animate the Anchor Point – not Position – to perform these types of moves.

We just wrote an article for going over this technique, including an extension where we use Position in conjunction with Anchor Point and Scale to push in and pull back around a focal point that may not be in the dead center of the frame. In this way, you can perform moves in After Effects that would have driven you crazy trying to perform in camera on the set.

Click here to download the PDF of “Pan and Scan” from

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Chris & Trish Meyer founded Crish Design (formerly known as CyberMotion) in the very earliest days of the desktop motion graphics industry. Their design and animation work has appeared on shows and promos for CBS,…

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