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Using the BCC Pan and Zoom Filter in After Effects

Media Used in this Exercise: Tomato Tiff Image

Working with the Pan and Zoom filter is a little different to the workflow that most other filters use. Because the filter makes heavy use of on-screen controls, which occupy strategic positioning in the frame, the recommended workflow is to apply this filter to a layer that is of the same dimensions as the timeline into which it has been placed. Let's start by creating an SD comp in AE. We now create a new solid color layer in this comp, ensuring that the layer is the same size as the comp into which it was placed. We'll import the media file that we want to work with next, which is a 9 Mb tiff file that is 3072 x 2048 pixels. This is the image that we're going to use for the Pan and Zoom effect. Let's drag the imported image into the timeline and place it below the solid color layer in the layer stack. Disable the view for the imported image by clicking on the eyeball in the timeline.

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Now that the project has been set up, we are ready to make the pan and zoom effect. First, apply the BCC Pan and Zoom filter to the solid color clip. The Pan and Zoom filter workflow was designed to guide the user through the process of setting up and working with the filter with parameter controls grouped into the most logical order based on a top to bottom workflow in the filter UI.

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Twirl down the first group, which is labeled source - the source group is where we set the source media file that the filter is going to work with. The Pan and Zoom filter can read media files that have been imported into the project and placed into the same comp that the filter is working on and can also access files independently, reading directly from the system Desktop or any mounted volume. To use a file that was not imported into the host, we simply select the External File option from the source and then click on the L button which brings up the system standard file navigation window and we select the file that we want to use. For this exercise, we are using host media so we'll leave the source set to it's default position of Host Layer. In the Host layer pop-up select the imported tiff file. We'll leave the Source Pixel Aspect Ratio pop-up set to default, which is Square Pixels, but if I click on this you can see that there are options for many of the video standard PAR settings.

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Now that we've set the source, lets move on to the Transform group. The first option in the group is Preview Mode, which enables and disables the on-screen controls for the Pan and Zoom filter. When we enable the Preview Mode function, the image in the comp window changes to show the entire image, with the filters' on-screen controls visible over the image. The box at the top right within the blue frame is a preview display of the filter output or final result and there is a pop-up box to control the position of this preview box on the comp ... it can also be disabled entirely if it is in the way. The red colored rectangles at the center of the frame are user modifiable and are used to control the region that appears in the final output - the inner rectangle displays a standard action safe zone. At the center of the red rectangle, there is a circle around which the center point for rotation, or anchor, occurs. This center point can be offset from the main rectangle by dragging within the circle region. To move the region and anchor point together, click in the center of the rectangle on the position point, to move either the anchor point circle or the region rectangle independently, click and drag within the bounds of either shape but not on the center point.

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So, let's get on to working with the controls. First, make sure the CTI is at the start of the timeline. Enable keyframing for the Anchor and Scale parameter by clicking on the stopwatch. Set the luma shift parameter to a value of negative 50 so that the region that is not included in the output is dimmed. Twirl down the Transform group and set the scale to 250 percent. Now drag the rectangle so that it covers the region at top of the tomato at the upper left portion of the image and add a keyframe - you can also enter the following numeric values into the Anchor parameters X = 231, Y = 106.

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Move the CTI to the end of the timeline and add a new keyframe. Set the scale to 30 percent and reposition the region rectangle so that it covers the pair of tomatoes at the bottom portion of the image - the numeric values for the Anchor Point should be X = 442, Y = 269. Preview the result by making a preview to RAM. Observe that the region UI moves smoothly across the frame and that the preview window shows the final result.

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Disable the on-screen UI by unchecking the preview mode box and again preview the final result by by making a preview to RAM.

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The third group is for enabling and controling motion blur. The built-in motion blur is only visible when the image has been subject to a DVE move, therefore until you actually keyframe the rotation or position of the source in the filter as we have just done, you will not be able to see any motion blur in the result. Another caveat is that Motion Blur is not visible while working in Preview mode therefore to see any motion blur that you have applied to the image you should disable the preview mode button. We'll leave it disabled for this clip as we have completed the pan and zoom. It is also worth noting that the Motion Blur function will cause some parameters to appear or disappear, depending upon the host environment that you are working in. For instance in Avid with MB enabled, the options in the quality group will disappear because use of MB will negate and disable use of the quality controls. In After Effects the controls remain visible but are enabled or disabled depending on the state of the MB enable/disable checkbox. Let's disable the motion blur by clicking once again on the motion blur button. Twirl down the Quality group in the Pan and Zoom filter, and observe that we can select from a list of sophisticated algorithms that are used to enhance the image result. These proprietary algorithms increase the apparent sharpness and and smooth the image, and generate a result that cannot be matched by host controls.

The list of available algorithms is:
Draft
Fast
Sharp
Standard
Smooth
Magic Smooth
Magic Sharp

Each of these algorithms will generate a different result but for the most part, image quality will go up as performance goes down. The algorithms are listed in order of image quality, with the highest quality at the bottom of the list. Move the CTI to the start of the timeline and disable the Draft Mode button. Then Select Magic Smooth from the method pop-up menu and set the sharpness parameter value to 100. Observe how sharp the image result has become.

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We are now finished with the effect set up and can render the clip to disc.