How To Slow Zoom in Final Cut Pro

Whether you want to showcase a certain part of your image, add some movement, or jazz up a project, knowing how to slow zoom in Final Cut Pro is an essential skill to have. Luckily for us, it’s incredibly easy to do! In this article, I will show you how to slow zoom in Final Cut Pro.

Why Add Zooms?

The whole point of camera zoom is to quickly grab your attention by zooming in on the subject in the frame. Whether you need to draw attention to something important like emotion or a door left unlocked, adding zoom can captivate your audience and keep them along for the ride. They can also be added as an establishing shot to visually place your viewer at the right time and space. After all, you want to make things more interesting and draw your viewer’s eyes to the good stuff! 

While using zooms can add flare to your project, especially when using them for emphasis, it’s important that we have motivation for using them in the first place. Adding a zoom without any reason can confuse the viewer and leave them wondering what they should be paying attention to or what they might have missed. That is the last thing we want! While zooms can be super fun to use, we want to make sure we don’t overdo it, unless there is a reason. 

Examples of Zooms

Now let’s jump into a few examples for zooms that occur in some major films.

Lord of the Rings

How To Slow Zoom in Final Cut Pro - Lord of the Rings

A great example of a zoom, this one in particular, is a zoom dolly shot, is in Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.” Right before Frodo, Sam, Pippin, and Merry run from the ringwraiths, Frodo could sense that danger was nearby and they showed that visually by adding a zoom into the forest that lay ahead of them. As I mentioned earlier, fear is a great motivator to add a zoom.

The Emperor’s New Groove

How To Slow Zoom in Final Cut Pro - The Emperor's New Groove 02
Credit: IMDb Pro

Another great example of a zoom shot, which also happens to be my favorite, is in Disney’s “The Emperor’s New Groove”. In this case, it is used as comedic relief. Who doesn’t love to laugh when it’s least expected? The shot starts out with Kronk chasing Kuzco, who’s in a nap sack, and he is about to fall down one of the waterfalls at the palace. Kronk catches him right at the last second, which sets us up in a series of “hard cut zoom-outs” until we reach the chimp and the bug.

Then we zoom in quickly and are dropped right back into the action. This film uses a lot of zooms for comedic relief which is one of the greatest ways to use zooms in your films.

In this article, I will use images from our short film “We Need To Talk.” This film is about two couples with very different perspectives and agendas counting down the New Year. Having two couples with completely different outlooks on their relationships creates a lot of tension and high stakes scenarios. With all of that in mind, this film is definitely one that would be fun to add zooms to.

How To Slow Zoom in Final Cut Pro

In showing you how to do this, I will be using keyframes. There is a lot of misconception around keyframes because it is assumed that they take a lot of work. So while that might be a dreaded word for some of you, stick with me! Final Cut makes using them super easy and detects when a new one needs to be added.

Before we start, I have to say if you are looking for a way to zoom in on a particular part of your image without having to keyframe, try using the Ken Burns effect! What happens once you have perfected the slow zoom, though? Well, if you want to get super fancy and try some customizable zooms through multiple images, FCP has a great plugin for that. Everyone likes to add that extra flare to their content, and this is a great way to do that. Let’s jump into how to add slow zooms in Final Cut Pro.

How To Slow Zoom In Final Cut Pro

  1. Place your yellow skimmer at the place you want your zoom to begin
  2. In your Video Inspector, select “Add a Keyframe” next to Position and Scale (All)
  3. Drag your skimmer to the place you want your zoom to end 
  4. Use the scale and position sliders to adjust your image for your desired result!

Just to reiterate: make sure that you drag your skimmer to where you want the zoom to end before you adjust the scale and position.

How To Slow Zoom in Final Cut Pro - Step 1
How To Slow Zoom in Final Cut Pro - Step 2
How To Slow Zoom in Final Cut Pro - Step 3

Pro Tip #1:

The slow zoom part of this effect is based on the length of your clip or the length of your keyframes. The further apart your keyframes are, the slower the zoom. However, if you want only a specific clip to be slowly zoomed, then the length of that clip is what will determine how fast the zoom is.  

FAQs:

Can I add multiple zooms?

Yes! If you wish to continue to add zooms, you can repeat the steps above and treat your “endpoint” as if it were your starting point. If you want to add zooms in a different area without affecting any footage in between, you will have to blade your clip first, so FCP knows when to stop keyframing. 

Can I adjust keyframes?

Use the right and left arrows next to navigate to whichever keyframe you wish to adjust. Ie: Scale (All), position, Scale X, Scale Y, etc. Once you are on the right one, you can adjust the scale and position.

How To Slow Zoom in Final Cut Pro - Can I Adjust Keyframes

Can I delete keyframes?

To delete keyframes, navigate to the keyframe you wish to delete by using the left and right arrows. Once you have found the right one, click the – arrow to delete it.

How To Slow Zoom in Final Cut Pro - Can I Delete Keyframes

And That’s How To Slow Zoom in Final Cut Pro

What did I tell you? Keyframes aren’t so bad, are they? We have now learned how to add a slow zoom to our projects. Did this spark any inspiration for future films? Let us know in the comments what you plan to use the zoom feature for. Don’t forget to allow yourself to get creative! As always, happy filmmaking!

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Courtney Birk

Courtney Birk is a Los Angeles-based actress, colorist, and multi-media artist. She’s never quite satisfied with having enough artistic outlets – so she’s usually painting, singing, and collaborating with her best friend to find creative ways for new storytelling. Her passion for the arts has driven her to work in many different mediums, including music, fine art, theater and film production.

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