Learn how to transition between locations in the most stylish, visually captivating way possible — straight through a picture.

Top image via Colin Ross.

Let’s take a look at one of the best transitions to come out of a daily travel vlogger’s creative bag of tricks. The tutorial is relatively simple and fast, so if you’re not too familiar with After Effects and you’re operating on a run-and-gun schedule, don’t fret. The tutorial includes the project files as well as links to other tutorials in case you’re new to After Effects or need a refresher in some aspects of the program.

First, you’re going to need a green piece of paper that will serve as the “picture” you’re taking your audience through. The exact location of you or subject doesn’t actually matter. You can shoot and transition to whichever scene or location you want, as long as you have planned out the shot in advance.

Pull Somebody Through a Picture with This After Effects Tutorial — Key Green

First things first: key out the green from the card. Then, feather and thin out the image as much as you need to. Next, in order to give the appearance of the hand coming through the picture, you’ll need to duplicate your bottom footage layer. Then unfortunately, you’ll have to draw a mask, frame-by-frame, around the object moving through the “frame.” Open up Masked Properties (M on your keyboard), and hit Mask Path so that the keyframes change. Then, move the mask as the hand moves closer to the camera, appearing above the footage below.

Pull Somebody Through a Picture with This After Effects Tutorial — Rotoscoping

So you’ll be rotoscoping her hand and his hand as it appears from the bottom reaching up. As Colin says in the tutorial, to roto the image the way you need to will take some time. In this video, he skips ahead to show you the finished product, but in case you are new to rotoscoping, check out this tutorial here.

Create a 3D Movement

Pull Somebody Through a Picture with This After Effects Tutorial — 3D Movement

Because the shot within the photo card and the first location are so different, you will need to color grade the two shots to try to make them as similar as possible. Next, create two null objects, then parent the outside footage layer to Null 9, and parent Roto and the layer beneath the Roto layer to Null 10. So with Null 10, Scale up as she starts to pull, hit the Scale keyframe on Null 10, as she pulls, and scale as little as possible.

Pull Somebody Through a Picture with This After Effects Tutorial — Color Grade Shots

Then, scale up Null 9. For this, you’ll scale up to the point where the image has completely taken over, revealing the new location or scene.  Once you’ve gotten the basic movement and effect down, add Motion Blur to all the layers. This will hide the sharpness of the clip approaching the camera; this gives it a less edited and more natural feel.

There are more effects you can apply to the transition to give it a more stylistic approach — just explore whatever fits your style or brand aesthetic.


How might you use this effect in your next video or channel? Let us know in the comments.