How to Create a Low-Budget Crash Zoom from Two Shots
Crash Zoom Cover 1.jpg

Crash (or snap) zoom is a cinematography technique that you'll see in big budget movies. Here's how to make it at home.

Crash (or snap) zoom is a cinematography technique that you see a lot in big budget movies. Quentin Tarantino often uses it to draw the viewer's attention to certain elements on the screen, such as: B. the tip of a shotgun or the blade of a Hattori-Hanzo sword. He also famously used it when introducing Calvin Candy, Leonardo DiCaprio's colorful character in Django Unchained. And how have the memes flowed since then?

You'll also find crash zooms in CG-heavy movies as this helps give these worlds a sense of realism and sometimes even a documentary feel. Zach Synder digitally zoomed in on a shot of a Superman in flight in Man of Steel, while George Lucas used it extensively in the Star Wars prequels. And when J.J. Abrams isn't busy flickering his lenses, he also zooms into spaceships in Star Trek and Star Wars.

Image via Warner Bros.

This technique isn't limited to big budget action movies, however. In this tutorial, I'll show you step-by-step how to create an affordable digital crash zoom in Adobe After Effects with just two static shots.

Step 1: Enter a WS and a CU

In this example, I'm taking a basic product shot of a camera for a review video and I want to add some motion to the shot. In particular, I want to quickly zoom from a WS to a CU of the G2 logo on the side of this camera.

Crash zoom: wide angle view

Crash zoom: close-upAn example of a wide-angle to close-up crash zoom.

For a correct Tarantino-style crash zoom in the camera, I need a parfocal zoom lens. With this type of lens you can keep your subject in focus while zooming. Unfortunately I only have a simple 18-35mm DLSR lens, certainly not the tool to capture a popping crash zoom. Fortunately for this technique, the lens doesn't matter.

Crash Zoom: RecordStart by taking a picture of your subject.

All I have to do is put my camera on my tripod and capture a static WS, then just move the camera closer and capture a static CU of the logo. Now I'm putting these clips in Adobe After Effects.

Step 2: line up the clips

Since this is essentially a very simple composite shot, I use After Effects to put it together. While I can get the same effect in many NLEs, it's a lot easier with the tools in AE.

Crash Zoom: Align the clipsNow align the clips.

Once I have the clips in a new composition, I need to align them. I'll place the CU shot over the WS and the opacity the CU too 50 percent. Next I can adjust that frame and position to perfectly align the CU with the WS. When the recordings are lined up, I'll rotate them opacity the CU back to 100 percent and bring it back under the WS. Now I'm ready to animate.

Step 3: Animate the crash zoom

To make the animation as simple and user-friendly as possible, I'll use a control layer. This allows me to keep most of the keyframes on just one layer. I'll create a new one for that Level> Zero Object and rename it Crash zoom. Since I'm going to enlarge the G2 logo on the side of the camera, I'm repositioning that Null object directly above the logo in the comp panel. Now I am superordinating both levels to the null object.

Crash Zoom: AnimateCreate a one-second animation.

Now, if everything is OK, I can add a one second animation to it position and frame Keyframes to Crash zoom Layer. To make this process easier, I'll turn off visibility for the WS. Now I can clearly see the CU shot when I scale and position the crash zoom level using the controls in the comp panel.

When the zoom is animated, I turn the visibility back on for the WS. Now I can animate the WS by keyframing opacity from 100 percent to 0 percent over the course of a frame or two.

Step 4: cover up the cut

Now that the crash zoom animation has been roughened up, I'll focus on covering up the transition between the two shots. I start with the close-up. To extend this shot to the edges of the frame, I'll go to Window> Effects & Preferences and apply the Movement tile effect. I will hire both of them Output width and height to 550and then turn it on Mirror edges.

Crash zoom: motion tileApply the Motion Tile effect.

Next, I'll grab the keyframe in the crash zoom and apply one Lightness lightness. I want the animation to fly in really quickly, so I'll open that up Diagram editor and adjust the influence of my keyframes. I want the speed to be the fastest when the WS is hidden. To make it perfect I have to play around with that opacity Keyframes of the WS and the Speed ​​curve of the crash zoom.

Crash zoom: speed diagramAdjust the opacity keyframes and the crash zoom speed curve.

Finally, I'll activate Motion blur via the switch in the Timeline Panel. I saved this for the penultimate step as it is quite render intensive. I can open up to increase the motion blur Composition> Composition Settings and navigate to Advanced Tab. Under the Motion blur Section I can increase that Locking angle to increase the degree of blurring.

Crash zoom: motion blur

Crash zoom: motion blurIncrease the shutter angle to increase the blur.

Step 5: add camera shake

I now have a perfectly coordinated crash zoom animation in which my two recordings merge seamlessly. However, the recording still looks a bit too digital. As a final touch, I add hand camera shake. For that, I could create a couple of wobbly phrases from scratch. But why when Premium Beat already has FREE animation presets available?

These 15 camera shake presets include both HD and 4K versions for a variety of different focal lengths. You even have multiple zoom options when working with footage that has the required resolution. Once installed, it's so easy to apply one of these presets to a Null object and then educate the Null. Check out the full tutorial.

Here is the final crash zoom!

Crash zoom

The great thing about this technique is that you can quickly add motion graphics elements because the crash zoom is already animated separately from the layers. To add an element, just give it priority over the crash zoom and turn on motion blur. Some anime speedlines might work just fine here too.

Cover picture above The Weinstein Company.

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