Make an Eye-Catching Zoom Blur Transition in After Effects

After Effects 02/06/2019 3 min read

Adding transitions to your videos is a great way to add some dynamism and help the video flow. In Adobe After Effects, a zoom blur transition will make it look like the camera rapidly zooms from one position to the other, linking any two clips. This effect is especially effective when you transition to a clip that looks like different coverage of the same location. If you’re ready to learn how to create this effect yourself, let’s dive in!

How to Create a Zoom Blur Transition

Step 1: Prepare Your Footage

You’ll want two clips to complete the transition: the first clip, and then a second one to transition into. If you’d like to try this out and don’t have media selected, check out our library of stock video clips

  1. Bring the clips you want to transition between into a New Composition.
  2. Place the first clip above the clip you want to transition into.
  3. Find the point at which you want the transition to happen, and overlap the two clips by a few frames.
  4. Set In and Out Points using B and N on the keyboard.
  5. Right-click on the timeline bar and click Trim Comp to Work Area. This keeps the project nice and tidy.

Step 2: Make an Adjustment Layer

An adjustment layer at the top of the timeline will apply effects to the entire project.

  1. Go to Layers > New > Adjustment Layer
  2. Make sure it’s on top of both of your clips.
  3. In the Effects tab, search for Transform
  4. Drag it onto the adjustment layer.

At this point, nothing should change, but the adjustment layer will be used to zoom in. 

Step 3: Add a Zoom In Using the Transform Effect

Time to add the zoom! 

  1. Click on the adjustment layer. 
  2. Underneath the Transform effect, click on the Scale keyframe. Zoom in a significant amount (maybe 40% over 4 keyframes).
  3. Select the top clip. At the same keyframes, set your Opacity to drop from 100% down to 0%.
  4. Select the bottom clip. You’ll see that it’s transformed as well. Change the Scale so that at the end of the transition, it appears as the intended size.

Step 4: Use a Motion Tile to Hide the Black Around the Frame

If you playback the transition, you’ll see the black around the frames because the clips have been resized. You can hide this with a Motion Tile.

  1. Go to your Effects panel and choose Motion Tile. Drag it onto the second clip.
  2. Bring the playhead to the point at which you can first see the clip.
  3. In the Motion Tile settings, increase Output Height and Width. The frame will repeat itself in a tile pattern. Extend it until it covers the whole frame.
  4. Check the box Mirror Edges.

Now preview your clip. We’re definitely getting close, but there are a couple more things to do to really make it sing.

Step 5: Adjust the Composition’s Shutter Angle

In this step, you’re going to give the Transform effect a realistic motion blur for any of the keyframes you make inside of it.

  1. Highlight the adjustment layer. Under the Transform effect, uncheck the Use Composition’s Shutter Angle box. 
  2. Set the Shutter Angle to 180.

You’ll now see a realistic flair to your motion as if the camera was zooming into the shot. 

Step 6: Finesse the Transition Effect

At this point, the transition is looking really good. You can leave it as it is, or refine it even further.

  1. In the adjustment layer, go to the zoom keyframes from the Transform effect.
  2. Highlight them, and go to the Graph Editor just to the left of the timeline.
  3. Right-click on the keyframes and select Keyframe Assistant > Easy Ease.
  4. Make the curve more dramatic.

And that’s it! Creating a custom zoom blur transition in After Effects can add a lot of impact to your video. It might even fool audiences into thinking there’s some clever, precise camerawork at play here. But it’s all done within After Effects in a short amount of time. Experiment with some clips and use this effect to enhance the quality of your videos!