3 Replies Latest reply on Sep 21, 2016 4:54 PM by Rick Gerard

    Animate elements of an image?


      Warning: I just got Ae today so I am an extreme beginner!



      I have the following image that I would like to animate:



      I want the city and the Empire State Building to expand towards the viewer, while the zeppelin in the background moves slightly.

      I have created a new composition and created three layers of the same image, one of which I used the pen tool to isolate the building and one of which I used the pen tool to isolate the zeppelin.


      How do I get each individual element in the picture to move and magnify?

        • 1. Re: Animate elements of an image?
          imeilfx Adobe Community Professional

          You have to make your layers a 3D layers:


          You have to create a 3D camera in AE


          You have to move your 3D layers and scale them in Z space according to perspective of your image


          To move your camera you have to use Camera Tools


          To move or scale your layers just use transform settings of that exact layer


          But if you are a beginner - first thing for you would be to learn basics of AE f. eg. from here: After Effects CC tutorials | Learn how to use After Effects CC

          • 2. Re: Animate elements of an image?
            Roei Tzoref Adobe Community Professional

            one of which I used the pen tool to isolate the building and one of which I used the pen tool to isolate the zeppelin.

            I would not recommend this type of workflow. Photoshop has far more superior methods of selecting and isolating parts of a still image. also you don't need Ae to calculate the masks or them getting in the way. you should isolate the images in Ps and prepare them for Ae.  you should read this: Preparing and importing still images in After Effects


            in addition to what imeflix recommended as a workflow, this tutorial demonstrates the technique pretty good:


            here's another very good one:

            here's a nice lynda course showing offering ways to enhance this technique:

            Motion Control 3D: Bringing Your Photos to Life in Three Dimensions with Photoshop and After Effects CC


            here's a nice thread about it: Looking for a Book for Special Effects, especially for 2.5D effects, in After Effects

            • 3. Re: Animate elements of an image?
              Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

              jgsaunders wrote:


              How do I get each individual element in the picture to move and magnify?

              This is real basic stuff. You must be very new to AE. To get a handle on the basic UI before you even start any of the 3D stuff start here: Basic AE.


              You are at least on the right track separating all of the elements into separate layers. I hope the original photo is about twice as big as your Comp. You will be limited to the moves you can do on the image if the image is the same width as your comp. Unless you absolutely know what you are doing when working with video you should be only using the default settings for compositions. I recommend using

              Screen Shot 2016-09-21 at 1.35.15 PM.png

              unless you live in a country that uses the PAL standard of 25 frames per second. This will give you a composition that is 1920 X 1080. This means my minimum recommended image size for that comp would be about 3000 pixels wide. This will give you some room to move around.


              Rather than do the separations in AE I would do the separations in Photoshop. I would call the layers Background, Zeppelin and Building. I would use Photoshop tools to fill in the hole left by the building and the Zeppelin so you have some wiggle room. If you don't fill in the holes you'll have to move the building and the flying machine closer to the camera before you start.


              Once you have your image prepared here's a simple way to set things up in your AE comp for animating the camera.

              1. Import the doctored and layered PSD into AE as a composition - NOT as a composition Cropped Layers
              2. Reset the composition to the HD standard size and frame rate
              3. Make all layers 3D then open up the position property for all layers by pressing the letter p
              4. Add a camera to the comp (looks like a slightly telephoto lens to me so pick 50 or 80mm from the options)
              5. Select all layers (Ctrl/Cmnd + a) and drag the Z value in the timeline back until all the background layer fills the frame
              6. (Alternate method) IF YOUR IMAGE is the same size as your comp (minimum recommended) then push the layers back to a z value of about 500 or 1000 then scale all layers at the same time so the background is about 20% bigger than the frame.
              7. Select all layers except the camera and then press Alt/Option + Ctrl/Cmnd + o and set auto orientation to Orient towards camera
              8. Lock the background layer
              9. Make note of the size of the building and the size of the Zeppelin
              10. If you want some guides for reference press Ctrl/Cmnd + r to reveal the rulers and drag out some guide lines around the building and the Zeppelin
              11. Select only the Building layer and then reset the Z position of the layer to 0 or just reset the position property buy right clicking and clicking on Reset
              12. Press the s key to reveal the scale position of the Building layer (top layer) and adjust the scale so that the building is approximately the same size as it was in the original image and in the same position
              13. Lock the building layer
              14. Select the Zeppelin layer and bring it forward so that it is about 1/3 to 1/2 the distance between the building layer and the background - For example if the background has a z value of 1000 and the building has a z value of zero (0), then position the Zeppelin at somewhere between 250 and 500
              15. Adjust the scale (and position if necessary) of the Zeppelin layer to make it the same size as it was in the original photo
              16. With the CTI at the first frame adjust the position of the camera so you see what you want to see when the camera moves and press Ctrl/Cmnd + p to set a position keyframe for the camera
              17. Press the letter A to reveal the Point of interest for the camera and set the Z value to the same as the z value of the background layer (1000) for little movement or to somewhere between 400 and 800 to put more movement in the background
              18. Move the CTI (current time indicator) to the end of the shot - let's say 7 seconds and adjust the position of the camera to it's final position
              19. Move the CTI back to the first frame and pick a starting position for the flying machine (only layer that is not locked) and press Ctrl/Cmnd + p to set a position keyframe
              20. Move the Cti to the end of the shot or press the letter K to move to the next visible keyframe in the timeline
              21. Adjust the position of the Zeppelin to it's ending position
              22. Lock the Zeppelin layer
              23. Lock the Background layer
              24. Fine tune the animation of your camera.

              That's about it. The image you posted is only 1280 X 720 so there's not much you can do in the way of big moves. I hope you have a bigger copy. When you get it set up it should look something like this:


              I used your original image, Photoshop's Quick Selection tool and the Select and mask tool to quickly select the building first, then copy it to a new layer using Ctrl/Cmnd + j, then the Zeppelin, then the expanded a selection of the building made by Ctrl/Cmnd clicking on the Building layer in the layer panel by 15 pixels and used content aware fill to remove the building from the background layer, then a loose selection of the flying machine and content aware fill removed the Zeppelin. Total Photoshop time under 5 minutes. I then followed the steps I outlined in AE and was done in under 3. Total time for the project - About 8 minutes.