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How To Add Camera Moves To Static Clips In iMovie

Updated on September 6, 2014

Static Clips

Make a locked-off shot look more interesting by adding classic camera moves in iMovie. A cheap tripod can dramatically improve your project’s production values, as it forces you to think about composing your shot. It also prevents undisciplined shaky-camera work. However, it can be a challenge to use a budget tripod to pan smoothly as you follow the action. It is also difficult to zoom in to objects, especially if you’re filming on an iPhone or a DSLR that lacks an electronic zoom control.
Fortunately, iMovie’s Ken Burns tool enables you to add smooth and accurate camera moves in post-production. This can add new layers of meaning to a static shot as you guide the viewers’ attention to a particular object in the frame. You can also pan to follow moving objects, or zoom out to reveal a subject’s surroundings.

Step by step: Add Digital Zooms and Pans

Step-by-step: Add digital zooms and pans

1 Import clips
Go to File>New Event. Label the event ‘Camera Moves’. Choose File>New Movie. Name it ‘Zoom and Pan’. Click Import and Shift-click to select our source clips. Click Import Selected.

2 Add clip
Double-click on the Track clip. Click the ‘+’ icon to add it to the Timeline. In this static shot a gondola floats through the frame. We’ll pan with the gondola to follow its progress.

3 Access Ken Burns
Click on the clip in the Timeline. Click the Adjust icon. Click the Cropping icon. Click Ken Burns. You’ll now see a Start rectangle and an End rectangle. The Start rectangle fills the frame.

4 Reposition the start frame
Drag the Start rectangle’s bottom-left and topright corner handles to resize it to the same
shape as the End rectangle. Drag inside the Start rectangle to place it at the right of the frame.

5 Adjust End frame
Click on the End rectangle to target it. Drag to place it at the left of the frame. Click the tick and then play the footage. The camera now pans smoothly to follow the drifting boat.

6 Add Tilt clip
Now let’s try a more complex move. We’ll hold on a static composition for a second and then pan, tilt and zoom to a specific object in the frame. Add the Tilt clip to the Timeline.

7 Split Clip
Scrub the cursor over the Tilt clip to preview it. When you’re a second or so into the clip (just after she turns the page in her guidebook), right-click and choose Split Clip.

8 Make a move
Click on the second part of the split clip and summon the Ken Burns tools. Don’t adjust the Start rectangle. Re-size and re-position the End rectangle to crop into the cathedral.

9 View zoom, tilt and pan
Play back the footage. The camera will stay static for the first second or so, due to the split clip, and will then start to smoothly pan, tilt and zoom into a close up of the cathedral.

Knowledge base

Rostrum camera
iMovie’s Ken Burns command derives its label from the famous Rostrum camera operator of the same name. In pre-digital days, Rostrum camera operators would shoot
static subjects such as maps or photos from above, and add movement by panning and zooming their specialist camera rigs. This was an effective way to bring static subjects to life for documentaries.

Ken Burns
Click here to access tools that enable you to add classic camera moves such as zooms, pans and tilts to your statically framed video footage.

Pan and tilt
By dragging inside a Start or End rectangle you can pan and tilt the virtual camera to re-frame your subject. A yellow arrow indicates the direction of movement between the start and end of the sequence.

By splitting a clip and adding a Ken Burns effect to the second section, you can start a shot with a static composition and then zoom, pan and tilt once you’ve established the scene.

Zoom in
Resize a start or end rectangle by dragging its corner handles about. This enables you to crop the frame and create a digital zoom.


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