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Create Dolly Zoom Effect with Your Drone in 5 Minutes

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The dolly zoom is an effect achieved by zooming a lens while the camera move toward or away from an element. The result is an image that won’t change the scale of the front element but the background gets either expanded or condensed offering a strong visual impact.

The effect was first used in Alfred Hitchcock‘s film Vertigo and has been used in many films, including Jaws, Goodfellas and Road to Perdition.

With a standard camera drone you can’t achieve this effect  but there’s a digital way to recreate it. So, first of all for this tutorial you will need a 4k footage. We used Adobe Premiere Pro but this effect can be achieved with any professional editing software.

Watch the We Talk UAV tutorial to learn how to create a digital Dolly Zoom effect:

You can apply this effect to landscape, portraits, sports… All you need is center an element in the middle of your shot and fly towards or backwards this element. Because safety matters, flying backwards an object is sometimes easier and in many cases you will be able to reverse the footage in post production.

  1. Import your 4k footage to a 1080p project. This extra resolution will give us the option to make a digital zoom without losing quality.

Dolly Zoom tutorial

  1. Set a Position and Scale Keyframe in the beginning and the end of the shot.

Dolly Zoom tutorial

  1. Change the Scale parameters to match the proportions of the front element in both keyframes. Normally, the first or the last keyframe will be set at 50% depending on the drone movement.

Dolly Zoom tutorial

  1. To match the position of the center element repeat the process with the Position keyframe.

Dolly Zoom tutorial

Quick tip: to avoid the artificial look of the animation you can right-click in the keyframes of the Scale Value and set it to Auto Beizer.

Dolly Zoom tutorial

The following picture should help you to understand how the digital dolly zoom works.

Dolly Zoom tutorial

Now you can just edit the color of the shot and you will have an amazing effect to improve your videos and impress the audience.

Thank you for watching!

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