Learn 2 Mind-Blowing Zoom Effects in Final Cut Pro

Final Cut Pro 22/08/2021 4 min read

The Ken Burns effect is a popular and easy way of adding exciting movement to your shots. While this traditional in-edit effect is not going anywhere, there are some cool zoom effects you can create in Final Cut Pro with just a few keyframes. We’re going to guide you through the steps of creating 2 mind-blowing zoom effects to add a flourish to your videos.

Part 1: Dolly Zoom (Vertigo) Effect in Final Cut Pro

The dolly zoom or vertigo shot is a popular effect used in many project types, from incredible establishing shots to eerie title sequences. For this effect, you need a shot with a steady tracking motion, either forward or backward. A drone shot is ideal for this type of effect, as the wider the angle of your clip, the more of a vertigo feel it will have.

  1. Edit your clip on the timeline and trim the ends to your desired length.
  2. Place your playhead at the start of the timeline and go to the Clip Inspector.
  3. Create a keyframe for the Rotation setting and change the rotation to about -15.
  4. Move the playhead to the end of the timeline and adjust the Rotation setting to 15.
  5. Change the Scale setting until you can no longer see the black spaces left by the rotation effect.
  6. Select the clip you’re working on in the timeline and click the Crop button.
  7. Choose the Ken Burns effect from the viewer.
  8. Grab the Start box and position it over the area of the shot you want to focus on. 

Note: You can adjust the size of the Start box; the bigger the change from start to end, the stronger the effect.

  1. If your footage is tracking forward, click on the Crop box, and your effect is done. Play around with all the settings to create your style.
  2. If your footage is tracking backward, click on the Invert button to reverse the scale of your Ken Burns effect.

Part 2: Map Zoom Effect in Final Cut Pro

The map zoom effect is a superb introduction to a location and regularly features in films such as Mission Impossible and The Bourne Franchise. While you are unlikely to have a blockbuster budget to produce these high production values, this simple technique can offer pretty incredible results.

Creating this effect requires planning and precision, as well as the use of a drone. It is a good idea to look at your filming location on Google Earth before shooting your establishing footage to help you compose your shot.

Step 1: Set Up Google Earth

To create this effect, you need to screen record a position of the clip from the Google Earth App; this will require a little fiddling with the settings in the App before you begin.

  1. Go to earth.google.com, go to the Menu icon, and select Map Style.
  2. Click on the Custom button and turn off everything except Clouds; make sure you go into each drop-down menu and turn off any elements there.
  3. Go back to your main menu and click Settings; make sure Fly Animation is set to On, and choose the speed you want your animation to use.
  4. Press the Search icon and search for your chosen location; it doesn’t need to be exact at this stage.
  5. Move around the map, then zoom in to the precise point you want the animation to end. Select the Location Pin icon and drop a pin on the map.
  6. In the pop-up box, name the location ‘.’ (we don’t want the location name to take up a lot of the map).
  7. Finally, zoom out of the globe so you can see the whole Earth in space.

Step 2: Record Google Earth

Next up, we need to record the zoom-in animation Google creates; we will use Quicktime for our screen recording, but you can use any software you like.

  1. Many Google controls are covering the screen, so we want to minimize these as much as possible; use Cmd + – or Ctrl + – to reduce the screen size.
  2. Open your chosen screen recording software and select to cover the browser; don’t worry about edges; we’ll crop that later.
  3. Hit Record, then select the browser winder. 
  4. In the Main menu, select Present alongside the play button.
  5. Quickly move your cursor out of the browser window to don’t interfere with the screen recording.
  6. Once the location has zoomed in, end the recording and save your footage.

Step 3: Add the Zoom Effect

In this step, we’re going to zoom from our Google Earth clip to the recorded footage of our scene. You can easily adjust these settings to suit your clip, but the technique is the same across all examples of this effect.

  1. Import your clips into the timeline and trim them as needed.
  2. Select each clip in turn, and using the Scale, Rotation, and Position settings, adjust your clips, so the end of the Google Maps clip matches the start of your drone clip as much as possible.
  3. Once you’re happy with the position and scale of each clip, add the Zoom effect to both of your clips.
  4. Starting at the join between the two clips, move backward 15 frames; create a keyframe for Zoom Amount.  
  5. Move to the end of the clip and adjust the Zoom setting to your desired Zoom Amount.
  6. From the join between the two clips, move forward 15 frames. Create a keyframe for Zoom Amount on the second clip.
  7. Move back to the clip start point and adjust the Zoom Amount to match your first clip. This might not be the same number, and you’ll need to compare the two visually.
  8. Add a zoom transition to the join between the two clips, and shorten it to cover just a few frames.
  9. Add your Cloud Alpha Channel to the timeline and position above the transition.
  10. In the Inspector, change the Blend Mode to Screen.
  11. Adjust the Opacity of the cloud layer until you’re happy with how they look.
  12. Finally, add a Cross Dissolve transition to the start and end of your cloud clip.

Top Tip: Add a whoosh sound effect over the transition to give the impression of moving through the cloud layer.

As you can see, there’s no shortage of different techniques you can use to create inspiring zoom effects in Final Cut Pro. Whether you’re making eerie vertigo zooms or trying a spectacular map zoom, these trendy effects are sure to grab your viewer’s attention and pull them straight into the action.

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