Parallax adds interest to your videos by quickly creating movement with still images.
Many recent conversations have been about creating parallax videos using still images. Examples include using AI-generated images, photographs, maps, and graphs when video isn’t available.
Parallax and its cousin, the Dolly Zoom, also known as the Vertigo Shot from Alfred Hitchcock’s movie of the same name, adds sophisticated movement beyond the typical panning and zooming found in most videos. Ken Burns uses a version of this method when he makes his historical documentary videos.
More about Dolly Zoom in a future article.
Parallax Using a Video Camera: Background
With the 10 steps below, we’re achieving the same look as if you were creating a video with a camera where the subject is the center of attention and the camera either moves:
- Linearly along a track while the camera pans to keep the subject approximately in the center of the view screen; or,
- In this case, there will be some movement (panning) of the subject (foreground) relative to the camera and considerable movement of the background relative to the camera.
- On a circular track arc around the subject which keeps the subject in the center of the view screen.
- Minimal panning movement of the foreground with changes of depth of field depending on how close the background is to the camera.
In this article, we’re focusing on Option 1: Linear Parallax
Preparing Your Images and Video
- Use two images: One image for the foreground and one for the background.
- Create depth of field: If the background image is in sharp focus, defocus or blur it in a photo editor like Photoshop or your video editor. Most video editors have an FX (effect) called “defocus” or similar. Defocus the background image to give the final composite video a relatively shallow depth of field. This is generally accomplished in a camera with an aperture setting of 2 or less.
- Zoom out: If your images are tightly cropped, use tools like MidJourney AI or the latest version of Photoshop (Content Aware Cropping) to zoom out your images. This will give you more space to work within your video without reducing the final video quality. Depending on the complexity of the background, you may need to edit the enlarged background using a tool like Photoshop due to artifacts that can occur with complex backgrounds.
- Preparing for Green or Blue screen: Delete the background of the foreground image by using a tool like Photoshop. Then replace it with a uniform color not found in the image. The new background can be any color, including traditional pure blue (Hex color: #0000FF) or green (Hex color: #00FF00).
- Compose your video: Import the two still images into your video editor and set the project resolution, aspect ratio, frame rate, and video length to your requirements.
- In my example, I used the setting of 4k, 16:9, 30 frames per second (FPS), with a 30-second length.
- Green Screen: Edit the foreground image so everything except the subject is transparent. Most video editors have an FX (effects) called Chroma Keyer or Green Screen to accomplish this.
Now you’re ready to create your Parallax Video.
Steps to Creating Your Parallax Video
- Background image movement: The key to parallax videos is having the background image pan across the screen faster than the foreground image.
- Start with a 2 to 1 ratio of foreground panning to background panning and adjust as needed.
- For example, in my 30-second video, the background image moves across the entire available image. In my example video, I zoomed out on the background image (950 x 534 to 1000 x 562) to enhance the parallax look because if we were doing a video shoot the camera’s distance to the subject and background would likely very unless we set up a circular tracking shot instead of the more common straight track with a gimbal camera mount.
- Foreground image movement: During that same time, my foreground image pans half as much, and I zoomed in (4000 x 2250 to 3800 x 2138) for the same reason has Step 1 of this section.
- Adjustments: Check the composite video and adjust each image’s panning as needed.
- Render: Render your video, and you’re done!
Example Parallax Video
While I wrote this article myself, I used Grammarly to make suggestions for improving it.
I created the background image within the video by training the MidJourney Image AI with a prompt that I wrote.
The background music was generated using the SoundRaw AI.
Note: I don’t receive any compensation for mentioning any companies or organizations in this article.