FCP X: Smoothing "Ken Burns" Moves

Here’s a quick tip for Final Cut Pro X:

If you are adding Ken Burns moves to two clips and you want to add a transition between them, apply the transition between the two clips FIRST, then add a Ken Burns move to each of the two clips on either side of the transition.

If you add the transition after adding the moves, the moves will pause during the transition.

A “Ken Burns” move is one of the three Crop moves in FCP X. This effect allows you to create moves within an image; we generally use this on still images, but it works for both moving video and stills.

To create a Ken Burns move:

The duration Ken Burns effects always equals the duration of the clip. Also, it always applies an Ease-in / Ease-out behavior to the effect. To create a move that only last for a portion of a clip, you’ll need to use keyframes.

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16 Responses to FCP X: Smoothing "Ken Burns" Moves

  1. Helpful post, Larry. Another Ken Burns challenge I have is wanting to “sit” on the opening position of a KB effect before it moves, then have it land, and sit on it for awhile before leaving the shot. I really enjoy working in FCP X, but that’s not part of the program. However, I Googled my question, and came up with this great Motion Effect from Alex Gollner that works like a charm, and is free to download: http://alex4d.wordpress.com/2011/08/04/smooth-move-fpx-effect/. Hope this is useful to others.

    • Larry Jordan says:

      Alex is a very talented guy and I enjoy using his plug-ins.

      As an even simpler approach, you could cut the clip with the razor blade, thus applying the effect only to a portion of the clip.


  2. Greg Vaughan says:

    Larry, the automatic ease-in and ease-out that is applied to Ken Burns moves drives me crazy, and I can’t find any way to control it. I don’t want a pause at the start and end of the movement, and this appears regardless of when the transition is added. Have you found any way around this yet?

  3. GaryC says:

    I’m also looking for a workaround to remove the ease-in and ease-out. It’s frustrating!

    • Larry Jordan says:


      Ken Burns ALWAYS has an ease-in/ease-out. To prevent it, you need to create the move manually using keyframes.


      • CraigK says:

        How weird because iMovie implements the KB without the ease in/out! You’d figure the more full functioning software would give you the option to choose.

        Gary, do you have a link to a good tutorial on how to do this manually using key frames?

      • John says:

        Not true! If you right click on any one of the four handles when applying the Ken Burns effect you are presented with the options to: 1. Ease in and Out or 2. Ease In or 3. Ease Out or 4. Linear

        • Larry says:


          You don’t need to right-click on a handle. Right-clicking anywhere inside the Viewer will display the Ease-In/Ease-Out menu. This does not apply to the handle, but to how FCP X treats the entire clip.


  4. TomP says:

    So is there a way to effectively clear the Ken Burns and then reapply if you have done the procedure in the wrong order (ken burns,transition)? I want to avoid having to redo a ton of work on a project. Also if transitions are changed after the Ken Burns effect is applied, does that “change the order of the operation and yield the “jump” we want to avoid?

    • Larry Jordan says:

      To reset the effect, open the Inspector and click the curved arrow (Reset) button next to the Crop parameter. And the Ken Burns effect always runs for the duration of the entire clip, including transitions, so you should not need to reset anything.


      • Sven says:

        As of 2018 and FCPX 10.4.2 I have found that even if you apply the „Fade“ transition after Ken Burns, the Ken Burns move is still going on during the transition. However, with the „Flow“ transition (name?), the move stops at the start time of the transition. I guess some transition types cannot run in parallel.

        • Larry says:


          Good comment. Flow is used to cover jump cuts within the same video by creating new video based upon a single clip on both sides of the edit. That is not the case when moving from one shot to a significantly different shot.


  5. Mark Ward says:

    Hello, please help: I can’t seem to get my ken burns clips to move from the moment they come into view, (cross dissolves used). The ease in & out are extremely frustrating as I want the clips to be ‘zooming’ without being stationary and then starting as the dissolve finishes and without ending! I need to be able to set the ken burns effect to be continuous. Thank you!

    • Larry Jordan says:


      The only way the Ken Burns effect works is that it is applied to the entire duration of the clip. So, make sure there aren’t any cuts in the clip, such as after the transition.

      Reset the effect by selecting the clip, open the Inspector, and click the curved Reset arrow next to the Crop controls. Then, reapply the effect to the selected clip.


  6. Brian says:

    Hi Larry – I have been struggling to get the Ken Burns effect to look linear. I am working with still images. I want to create an “infinity” type effect where the view zooms into a photo, then zooms into the next, and the next, all at the same rate of speed. I right click and choose linear but I still get a ramping/speeding up effect at the end of each move. I am zooming WAY in – as far as I can go – each time. (Strangely, when I change it to ease out, it looks the same.)
    Is the speeding up effect just a perceived thing?
    If so, how could I apply a speed ramp with a steady rate of speed change to counteract it?
    (I have also noted your comments about key framing the ken burns effect, but I do not see a way to key frame it within a clip of a still image like I do for the transform variables.

    • Larry says:


      I suspect this is perceptual. Two things to try.

      * Set the end position to Ease In. (In and Out refer to the associated keyframe. Ease In slows down approaching a keyframe. Ease Out slows down leaving a keyframe.)
      * Don’t use the Ken Burns effect at all. Use keyframes set for position and scale in Video Inspector > Transform.


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