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Create an Incredible Infinite Zoom Effect in Photoshop and After Effects

Author: ThoseSixFacesTime: 2024-02-09 21:55:01

Table of Contents

Overview and Examples of the Infinite Zoom Effect

The infinite zoom effect is a mesmerizing video technique that creates the illusion of endlessly zooming into an image. As you zoom, the image transforms and evolves, revealing new details and scenery. This constantly shifting imagery creates a psychedelic, dreamlike effect. Infinite zooms have become popular in animation, music videos, and more.

In this tutorial, I'll walk through how to create an infinite zoom animation using three main software tools: DALL-E to generate iterative imagery, Photoshop to composite and prepare frames, and After Effects to assemble the zoom animation.

Starting with a Simple DALL-E Image Prompt

I'll begin by generating the first frame in DALL-E using a simple text prompt like "an astronaut lying down in a forest." DALL-E creates novel AI-generated imagery from any text description. I choose an image I like and remove the DALL-E watermark in Photoshop. Then, I resize the frame to be 30% of its original size - this resized version will become the focal point of the next frame in the sequence.

Saving and Preparing the Initial Frame in Photoshop

After generating the first DALL-E image, I open it in Photoshop. Using the Content-Aware Fill tool, I remove the DALL-E watermark so that the colors don't bleed into the next frame. I merge the layers, transform the image to 30% size, and save a copy - this will serve as the focal point when generating the next frame.

Generating Additional Frames through Iterative Imagery

The core technique for creating an infinite zoom is to recursively generate imagery that zooms into the previous frame. I take the resized first frame back into DALL-E.

There, I edit the prompt to guide the AI to generate a new surrounding scene. For example, "astronaut lying in a forest at autumn." I choose a resulting image and repeat the Photoshop process of watermark removal, merging, and resizing to 30%.

Assembling the Frames in After Effects

With around 20 generated frames, it's time to bring them into After Effects. I import the sequence and split them into two nested comps for easier handling.

In the first comp, I recursively scale, mask, and parent each frame to create a smooth zoom sequence. The mask hides jarring edges between frames.

Compositing and Scaling the Frames

Inside the first comp, I place all the frames and scale them to fit recursively within each other. Each frame is scaled to 30% to match the next frame that zooms into it. I parent the frames together so that moving one frame moves the rest in unison, maintaining alignment.

Masking for Seamless Transitions Between Frames

There can be harsh edges when zooming between two different frames. To smooth this, I apply rectangular masks to each frame that crop away the outer edges. This helps hide the seam between frames and utilizes the natural feathering created by DALL-E's image generation process.

Parenting Frames for Synchronized Movement

It's important that the frames move in unison while zooming. By parenting each frame to the next, any movement of a parent frame cascades down to its child frames. This keeps all the frames aligned and prevents jarring jumps between frames as we animate the zoom.

Smoothing Animation and Adding Effects

With the frames assembled, I can finesse the animation. Using exponential scaling counters the exponential growth of zooming to create a visually linear zoom.

Time remapping adds natural pacing to the animation. Finally, effects like glows, chromatic aberration, and vignettes take the infinite zoom to the next level.

Using Exponential Scaling for Consistent Zooming

Unadjusted, zooming each frame 30% smaller leads to an exponential growth in scale that quickly balloons out of control. By calculating an exponential scale factor based on the number of frames, I counter this exponential curve into a linear rate of zoom.

Time Remapping for Natural Pacing

The raw assembled zoom animation starts and ends abruptly. Using time remapping, I ease the animation in and out to create more natural pacing. This helps the infinite zoom feel hypnotically smooth rather than jarringly fast.

Final Touches like Glows, Aberration etc.

Finally, effects take the infinite zoom to the next level. I add chromatic aberration to create psychedelic edge bleeding between frames. A vignette draws focus to the center. Glows blend frames together. Small touches like these polish the end result.

Conclusion and Next Steps

Through iteratively generating and compositing imagery with creative software, we can create mesmerizing infinite zoom animations.

The techniques covered provide an overview, but there's lots of room for creativity. You can generate many more frames, experiment with prompts and effects, and blend infinities together for even more possibilities.


Q: How many frames do I need for a smooth infinite zoom?
A: For best results, use at least 20 frames. More frames means smoother transitions.

Q: What image sizes should I use?
A: Start with a large image, like 5000x5000px. Shrink each frame to 30% size before re-generating.

Q: How can I make the zoom seamless?
A: Use masking and crossfades between frames. Add glows and blurs to blend frames.

Q: What creative prompts can I try?
A: Get creative! Try nature, sci-fi, abstract, architecture etc. prompts.

Q: Can I create infinite zooms with other media?
A: Yes, use video clips or 3D renders for interesting zooms.

Q: What are some tips for smooth animation?
A: Use time remapping, easy ease keyframes, and exponential scales.

Q: How do I make this effect in Blender?
A: Similar principles apply. Scale and composite renders in the VSE.

Q: What hardware do I need for smooth playback?
A: A good CPU and GPU will help processing and playback. Proxy workflows assist.

Q: Where can I learn more about compositing?
A: Check out video tutorials on multi-pass compositing, rotoscoping, and other techniques.

Q: Are there other infinite zoom styles I can try?
A: Yes! Experiment with fractal zooms, spherical zooms, animated zooms and more.