Learn how to fall from the sky in this Final Cut Pro X video tutorial.

Top image via RyanNangle.

One of the most classic transitions in movies and television is the zoom-from-satellite-image-to-the-ground effect — specifically, zeroing in on your setting. The transition is simple, and it only requires a satellite image or aerial photograph — either works just fine. Ryan Nangle demonstrates how to achieve this effect in Final Cut Pro X.

Let’s jump in.

First things first: you’ll need some type of aerial footage. In the video, Ryan uses a snapshot from Google Earth, and part of the tutorial is moving the image to make it seem like video (including cloud-based effects.) However, using drone or aerial footage for this type of shot will work just as well (if not better). If you don’t have access to a drone, Shutterstock has a dense library of aerial cityscape and landscape footage available.

Create a Map Zoom Effect in FCPX — Aerial Footage

To add clouds into the shot, use the clouds option in the Final Cut Pro X generator tool. Just place the clouds above your clip, and play with the density and haze to get the effect you want.

Create a Map Zoom Effect in FCPX — Add Clouds

The short-but-simple way to simulate this effect with a still image is to take objects like boats or cars and use the Draw Mask tool in Effects. Create your mask around whichever object it makes sense to move; create a key frame; and move the object a short, non-distracting distance.

Create a Map Zoom Effect in FCPX — Draw Mask

For the actual zoom in the transition, Ryan has included the link for his downloadable “Zoom In” tool for free. The zoom action includes a blur option, which distorts the transition to hide any unwanted parts of the image. Furthermore, if your actors are in a different location, this could be an easy way to hide the precision of your transition.


Do you know a simpler way to pull off this effect? Let us know in the comments.