Digifish News

Parallax: Bringing Images to Life

Digifish News
Parallax: Bringing Images to Life

Many of the projects that we’ve undertaken at Digifish include the use of archive photos and illustrated resources. The effect of parallax is incredibly useful in bringing old images to life and displaying them on film. Today we're going to share some tips from our animator Matt, as he explains how he uses the parallax technique in his work here at Digifish HQ.

 The Ken Burns effect of moving and zooming around images has been a staple in editing throughout the years. But with the ever growing popularity of Adobe Photoshop, After Effects and other similar products, we now have the possibility to enhance these classic effects by entering the world of 3D Parallax photos and Animated Puppetry motion.

The Parallax Basics

“The effect whereby the position or direction of an object appears to differ when viewed from different positions, e.g. through the viewfinder and the lens of a camera”

Photoshop treatment.jpg

We start by introducing this amazing effect to a photo by cutting it up into layers based on the depth of the elements in the scene. It allows us to add a real sense of space and perspective to any photo and control it as though a film camera is moving through the scene. It's an incredibly powerful way of bringing elements of the past to life!

The diagram above shows you the way this stunning World War 1 painting was split into all the parts needed for a parallax effect to work. We finally bring it all into After Effects where the layers are spread out by depth order and an animated virtual camera is added showing off the new depth and 3D feel created by parallax effect.

Parralax setup.jpg

A big part of the skills needed in enabling the parallax motion to happen is before it reaches After Effects. The magic of the clone tool in Photoshop is a huge part of the process, along with cutting out the individual layers, which is also by far the most time consuming! We have to creatively source parts of the image and copy them to other areas to effectively erase objects that appear on more than one layer. The diagram above shows the Photoshop treated layer verses what happens if you don’t use this very important process. It can leave the layers looking really surreal sometimes but it all works like magic once it’s all finally set up in After Effects!

We've put together a little showreel of our Parallax and Puppetry examples below, so go have a watch to see how our animator Matt's techniques come to life and how these effects could help your organisation!

In our next blog, we'll be sharing an insight into puppetry techniques. Give us a follow on social media for all the latest filmmaking and animation insights, as well as exclusive behind the scenes content from our creatives themselves!