I have an assignment to shoot architectural, wildlife, and landscape stills for a video production team who wants to present them using some variation of the Ken Burns effect.

I am concerned that the principles of composition I use for stills do not lend themselves to use with the Ken Burns Effect. Over the past few years I have seem most of my thousands of compositions presented using Apple TV's Ken Burns effect. I can't think of an instance where that presentation looked acceptable to me. I understand that the Ken Burns effect is likely to turn out better when tailored by a human than leaving it to whatever algorithm Apple TV uses. However, by the infinite monkey theorem I expected that at least sometimes Apple TV would produce a redeeming result with my compositions. But I don't think it ever did.

This all leads me to suspect that composing shots for presentation using the Ken Burns effect requires adopting some other principles than for plain-old-stills.

Should I adopt different principles of composition for stills presented using the Ken Burns effect? If so, what are they?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Not an expert, so not posting as an "answer", but since the effect relies on panning and zooming, be sure that the subject of the images isn't too close to the edge or doesn't take up the entire frame. \$\endgroup\$
    – JPhi1618
    Oct 14, 2015 at 15:34

1 Answer 1


It also might help to shoot with a small aperture and make sure your tonal range isn't too great. The small aperture makes sure more of your image is in critical focus. Minimizing the tonal range cuts down on tonal variations between different parts of the picture.

Because the Ken Burns effect zooms in and moves across different parts of the image, this would help all parts of the image look similar. Moving from one part of the image to another would feel more visual comfortable and less jarring if the different parts of the picture are visually similar.


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