How to Crop, Rotate, and Zoom Footage in Marketing Videos

Professional camera operators frame their shots “just right” almost every time. But the footage for your marketing video likely isn’t quite perfect. If too much space appears above the head of the interview subject or a distracting object appears on the edge of the shot, it’s no problem — save your video project in the edit.

You can reframe video material in a number of ways:

  • Most advanced editing programs let you crop footage to select the area of the video picture that you want to show. Cutting off a little of the edges lets you frame your shot perfectly, which sometimes can make all the difference between a humdrum shot and an inspiring one.

  • Some programs let you rotate shots. If you tilted the camera a little when you took that epic landscape shot, don’t worry — it happens. It’s no big deal, thanks to the Rotation feature: Simply rotate the picture a few degrees, and the landscape then looks perfectly level.

  • Many editing programs let you gradually change the framing of shots throughout a scene. You can use one part of the video picture at the beginning of the shot and use another at the end, with a fluid transition, even if the camera has never moved.

    One cool use of this technique is the “Ken Burns effect,” named after the famous documentary filmmaker who zooms and pans around hundreds of historic photos in his films. Using the effect is a wonderful way to draw viewers’ attention to a particular part of the picture, and it works with both still images and video.

To reframe a shot in iMovie, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Cropping view.

    Select the clip that you want to modify in the timeline and press C, or choose Window→Cropping, Ken Burns & Rotation from the menu.

  2. Select the part of the picture that you want to use.

    You see a green frame that overlays the picture. The frame highlights the part of the picture that iMovie will show in the finalized clip. Draw the corners of the green frame until you see the portion of the picture that you want to use.

  3. Add the dynamic “Ken Burns effect.”

    Click the Ken Burns button. In addition to the familiar green frame, you now see a red frame. The green frame represents the portion of the picture where the clip begins, and the red frame indicates where the clip ends. Move the corners of both frames so that you create the effect you want for the clip.

    For example, if you want to show the effect of “pushing in” an element, start with a bigger green frame, and end on a smaller red frame.

  4. Check to see whether your effect works as expected.

    Verify the effect at any time by clicking the Play Clip (right arrow) button, next to the Done button, to play the clip with your new settings applied. When you’re happy with the effect, click Done to apply the new settings to the clip.

To add some drama to your footage, add a slow push-in. This simulated, slow-zoom effect slowly enlarges the subject of the shot. The result is surprisingly powerful, literally drawing in the viewer. You can find this effect in most political and charity commercials.

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