Jon's Blog on Visual Matters

Animating Photographs in 3D with After Effects

Back in 2012 I worked on a documentary about the life of William Booth, founder of The Salvation Army. With somewhat limited access to film footage from his life (he died in 1912), we decided instead to animate photograps.  I did about 40 animations in total, this is a selection of some of the more complex ones.    I've added the original still picture to this selection to make it easier to see the transformation.

Most of the animations are made by cutting the picture up into layers, arranging them in 3D space, and animating a camera around them using Adobe After Effects.  The two photographs of Booth himself also has a slight displacement map to make it appear as if the camera is moving around his head.  Only a suble effect is possible before the image breaks up using this method.