How to Animate Still Photos in After Effects (Part 2): A Follow-up Tutorial from Joe Fellows

parallaxBack in November, we shared a great video tutorial by Joe Fellows that walked us through how to animate photos in After Effects by using the parallax 2.5D effect. Though the video received a warm response, there were a few questions raised, like how to stylize and texturize elements in the composition for example, which would in turn make the project look all the more profession and downright awesome. Fellows decided to make a follow-up tutorial that answers a few of those questions (some of which came right from NFS readers). Continue on to check out the video!

According to a post from The Creators Project, Fellows addresses several questions in his tutorial by elaborating on the techniques he used that he didn't explain. Here's a list of them:

  • Using the "pin" technique
  • Creating the shadow effect on the paddle and balls
  • Render and export settings
  • Are those balls animated?
  • Does Photoshop have 3D capabilities?
  • And more!

One aspect of the tutorial I know we wondered about was how Fellows made the balls look as if they were rotating. Did he us 3D compositing? He explains that he began that process by creating a grunge layer in Photoshop, adding a line through the composition to replicate the seam you'd find on a real ping-pong ball. After importing the texture into After Effects, created a composition, and laid it over the image of the ball. He goes into more detail that you can follow along in the tutorial, but the key was using the CC Sphere effect and adding a few keyframes.

Check out Fellows' tutorial below:

Here is the first part of the tutorial in case you missed it the first time around:

Many thanks to Joe Fellows for the follow-up! And make sure to check out the post by The Creators Project to see a bunch of parallax videos that'll get your creative juices flowing.

Did this tutorial answer the questions you might've had from the last one? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Link: Joe Fellows Answers Your 2.5D Photo-Making Questions -- The Creators Project

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Your Comment


I've used this technique before but this guy really takes it to the next level. thanks for sharing!

January 13, 2014 at 9:54PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM


Agreed, fantastic work.

January 14, 2014 at 4:16AM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM


That is the sexiest thing I've ever seen.

January 14, 2014 at 4:45AM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM


Brilliant work.

January 14, 2014 at 6:00AM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM


Very cool and useful effects!

January 14, 2014 at 6:52AM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM


I have also experimented with this technique. Richard Harrington does a pretty solid tutorial on Lynda explaining the basics. This video has given me new ideas for how harness the power of the parallax effect in great new ways. Thanks NFS!

January 14, 2014 at 7:39AM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM


Ryan, I'd love to see a tutorial or two on how to create those multi-layered sliced images, where a still photo, often an archival photo, is taken apart in Photoshop and animated so that we can fly through the image, passing layers which go out of focus as we move into the picture. Haven't a clue how to do that. I know there's at least one AE plug in that helps with that:

January 16, 2014 at 1:54PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM


It's as simple as slicing an image into component parts and moving them in AE. YouTube just have to move it so you cant see the missing bkg. Otherwise you may have to create some background in PS.

January 16, 2014 at 3:11PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM


/you not YouTube.

January 16, 2014 at 3:12PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM



January 16, 2014 at 2:18PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM

Zan Shin

Great technique... one thing I dont think he covered in the first video is shadows. If you see on his shirt, the shadow of the paddle moves as well. I think this is what makes the difference between good and great.

January 21, 2014 at 11:49AM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM


and.... there it is ... 2nd video. Lesson learned ;)

January 21, 2014 at 11:54AM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM


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March 27, 2014 at 6:11PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM