Trends

How to transform still images into an engaging video

We’re all looking for ways to create engaging video content quicker than ever. Here are a couple of compelling tools to do it, and they’re easier to use than you may think.



Since the invention of the camera photography has been an art form the world has embraced. Photos are capable of capturing significant events in history, milestones in people’s lives and now, with cameras built into mobile phones, silly, cute and at times ridiculous moments with friends that can be immediately shared on social media.

We’re taking more photos than ever these days, and we’re also producing more video than ever as well. It’s been noted for a while that over the next few years, the amount of video content being produced is set to grow to unprecedented levels. As a result, everybody’s desperate to figure out how to create compelling, engaging video in order to feed the platforms and audiences hungry for it.

That hunger has created a need for tools that allow users to create compelling audiovisual content quicker than ever. As people ramp up the speed at which they release stuff to YouTube and Facebook, they’re increasingly looking to turn static pieces of content, like photos, into compelling videos. 

How-To videos, Explainer videos and News reports now often rely heavily on the use of images from National Geographic, the Associated Press and even Google when putting videos together. Yet aside from the simple Ken Burns effect – the slow zooming in or out of a photo – what they do with those images within their videos is often not particularly compelling.

The use of photography in film was redefined with the introduction of the “Parallax” effect.

While making the documentary The Kid Stays in the Picture, visual effects artist Yorgo Alexopoulos pioneered the simple effect which adds dynamic movement to otherwise static images. “We had to take an entire narrative film format and create visuals, and do all of that with stills,” Alexopoulos told Vice. “The process was creating three different layers, or four different layers and cutting out the middle ground, the foreground, the background, and then repainting in the background behind the foreground.” A very effective technique that’s since become a staple of documentaries. But still a little complex, right?

In this era of the smartphone, social media and everyone in one way or another being a content creator, a lot of us have a need for something that produces an effect like this, but that can be used by someone with a lot less skill than a professional visual effects artist.

Today that need is being met by a new generation of products built for Adobe’s After Effects that – before you panic – actually don’t require you to have an in-depth knowledge of the program.

Photo Animators automate the Parallax style effect for you, and also offer a 3D feature, making this style of product unique. Instead of merely zooming, with the background and foreground appearing to be different layers, 3D photo animators allow you to create something much more compelling out of those same still images.

VideoHive items like Integnity’s ‘Photo Motion Pro’, Anton-and-Friends’ ‘Photo Animator’ and Cream_Motion’s ‘VoluMax’ give you tools to choose particular aspects of a photo to “animate”, often creating an effect reminiscent of The Matrix, where you’ve got a 3D view of a still moment in time.

Photo Motion Pro by Integnity

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IPT0VRxVAQ

Photo Animator by Anton-and-Friends

Volumax – 3D Photo Animator by Cream-Motion 

To flex the muscle of what these tools can do, earlier this year we asked our community to use Anton-and-Friends’ ‘Photo Animator’ and show us their creations. These are just some of the ways they used it.

‘Funny Frog’ by reob

‘Breakdance #1’ by prassiod

‘Nature slideshow’ by Coreaux

And there are many more examples in the montage below and right here in our submissions thread.

Photo Animators offer a fantastically simple solution to an evolving problem of quickly and effortlessly creating engaging video. So next time you want to bring a photo to life, try one out, and watch your audience be blown away.


You can find all the Photo Animators mentioned in this article on VideoHive


Dom Hennequin

About the Author Dom Hennequin

Dom is the host of the Famous 5, and Community Content Coordinator at Envato.