That’s another shot which I wanted to make for a long time. In fact, I’m not sure what I was waiting for. Thanks to this project I forced myself to try it and I’m really happy with the results 🙂 Check out the shot below and then read my mini-tutorial on this technique 😉

This is a shot from my 52 Timelapse Project. You can check out the details of the project or full list of the shots.

Lately people love to use zoom transitions. Some of you can say it’s overused, and I would agree. But for me there is a huge difference where you use it. You can see that in a lot of travel videos – editors add this kind of transition just because it looks cool. The locations before and after transition have nothing in common, it just makes no sense.

Let’s take as an example my sunset shot. There are two shots, wide and closeup on the sun. This transition is simulating a real zoom, which you could achieve with a long zoom lens. If the second shot would be a different wide angle shot, it would make no sense. So, making that transition starts way before post production 😉

If you’re hoping for ready to use preset here, you’ll be dissapointed. There are a few of these free online, just Google it. My transitions are customized in After Effects to fit the scene I’m working on. I’m not saying, that using presets is something bad, I just prefer to do it myself, it’s not that difficult 😉 You can check a lot of that in my flow motion videos:


First of all, I used two cameras for this shot with two different lenses. Canon 550D mounted on a hot shoe of Panasonic GH4. The lenses were:

  • Sigma 10-20mm f3.5 @20mm (with Speedbooster) for a wide shot
  • vintage Vivitar 135mm f2.8 for a close up

Of course it’s possible to shoot that with just one camera (and two lenses/one mega zoom), but it’s easier (and better for the final effect) to use two of them.

To mount the upper camera I used very cheap hot shoe – 1/4″ thread adapter. With this adapter you can’t position the tilt of the cameras seperately, so you’ve got to compose the frame with telephoto lens. The camera with wide angle lens just has to be positioned as it is. You can skip that using a small ballhead to mount the upper camera. It depends on where your subject you’re zooming at is (in the wide angle camera frame). If it’s not far from the center of the frame, you can go with the simple adapter like mine.

Set up the intervalometer on both cameras. It doesn’t have to be super precise, for me it was 5 sec interval for wide angle and 3 sec for telephoto. Basically – the longer the focal length, the faster the sun will move 😉

It would be best not to touch the cameras at all. With a telephoto lens you can really see every little movement. I was changing settings manually (Holy Grail technique) and I had to stabilize the footage in post a little bit 😉

Post Production

That well prepared footage is easy to edit in post. I did that in After Effects, you can use any compositing software. I’ll skip the RAW processing of the images, because we’re here to learn the transition.

Inside After Effects put the telephoto footage above the wide angle. I like to lower the opacity of the upper clip to 50% to match the position of those two clips. First you have to scale down the telephoto clip, then adjust it’s position to match the wide angle shot as close as possible. You can see in the picture below a darker rectangle – that’s well positioned telephoto footage.

There are a few ways to zoom the footage. For this shot I used 3D Camera. You just make these two layers 3D, add camera layer and animate the Z axis camera movement. To remove the visible rectangle you add a mask to the telephoto clip and feather it. The last thing to add there is a motion blur. You should enable the motion blur for both layers. If it’s not enough you can also add some blur for example from CC Radial Blur effect.

If you’re really interested in these kind of transitions let me know in the comments. I’m thinking about detailed video tutorial for that 😉

Have you tried this technique? I would love to see the results! Show that in the comments or share in my Facebook group:

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  1. I am enjoying your 52 weeks of TL posts!

    I am just learning AE and would like to see a good tutorial on the zoom transition from you, or at least a link to one.

    Thanks and Happy Shooting!

  2. Johnny Andrews

    This is awesome. Thanks for the post production details. I would love to try this. Need to get one of those devices to mount a second camera above.

  3. This one nice. i use to do transition in Pr . Now really want to learn Ae