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How to Make a Parallax Motion Instagram Story Using a Photo in After Effects

In this quick tutorial, learn how to add motion to a photo or video in After Effects and make an Instagram story with a parallax effect.

What You'll Need

You’ll need to have at least one foreground layer and one background layer, and you’ll want any layer other than the background to have an alpha transparency set so that you can layer the assets on top of each other.

Once you have all of these assets ready and imported into After Effects, the first step is to create a new composition. For this example we will create a 1080x1920 vertical composition in order to best fit the Instagram stories layout. 

How to Make a Parallax Story

1. Foreground Animation

Arrange Your Elements

You can bring your foreground layer into the composition and begin resizing and positioning it. The placement doesn’t need to be perfect at this stage because you’ll likely make some adjustments once the other layers are in. 

Create Foreground Animation

Once you have the rough size and position for the foreground layer, making sure your playhead is at the beginning of the clip with the layer selected, press S on your keyboard to drop-down the scale properties. Click the stopwatch icon to set a keyframe at your in point and then drag your playhead to the end of the clip, or to the point at which you want the foreground layer to stop increasing in size. Once you have found that spot, click the new keyframe icon next to the stopwatch to create a new out keyframe. With your playhead still in this same position, you can now change the scale of your foreground image.

alpha transparency foreground imagealpha transparency foreground imagealpha transparency foreground image
Look for an eye catching foreground image with the background removed, this should have an alpha transparency layer enabled

Add Easing

Try increasing the scale by roughly 20% over the course of the animation. To add some easing to your motion, highlight all of your scale keyframes and press F9 or right-click on one keyframe (with the others highlighted) and select Keyframe Assistant > Easy Ease.

2. Background Animation

Next, bring in your background layer making sure that it is sitting below your foreground layer on the timeline. Adjust the position and scale behind the foreground layer until you’re happy with it. Repeat the scaling process for the background image but this time only increase the scale by roughly 5-10% across the course of the animation, and this will create the parallax effect between your foreground and background images. 

foreground layers with alpha transparency over the top of background layerforeground layers with alpha transparency over the top of background layerforeground layers with alpha transparency over the top of background layer
You may need to mask off the edges of your alpha transparency layers in the foreground so that they properly blend with your background layers. Try some edge feathering.

3. Color Correct

The next step is to color correct both the background and foreground images, you can do this by searching for the Lumetri effect in the effects panel. Drag this effect onto both your foreground and background layers. You can make adjustments to both layers and find a color correction that suits your taste or you can make corrections to one of your assets, correcting it to match the other. 

color correction with Lumetri effectcolor correction with Lumetri effectcolor correction with Lumetri effect
Make sure that all of your layers feel like they're in the same world by color correcting them to match with the Lumetri effect.

4. Blur Background

After this step is complete, it’s now time to blur the background layer a little in order to create some depth and separation, as this will further accentuate the parallax effect.

In your Effects panel, search for the Gaussian Blur effect and drag this to your background layer. It’s up to you how much you want to blur the background but about 30% works well between the foreground element and the background element. If you have multiple layers in between your foreground and background you can gradually step the percentage down totalling a 30% increase in the gaussian blur from the first layer to the last layer.

gaussian blur comparisongaussian blur comparisongaussian blur comparison

Compare the image on the left with no gaussian blur to that on the right with gaussian blur added to both background layers.

5. Titles and Text

Next you can add any headline text, graphics or logos to the composition. These layers should all sit on top of your foreground layer to remain in focus. You can place these layers between your foreground and background layer, but remember to be consistent with the blur!

Once you have all of your text and graphics in place, repeat the steps to animate their scale in alignment with your foreground and background layers. Experiment with different speeds or distances of scale and see what works best for your project. 

from single alpha layer to instagram story with motionfrom single alpha layer to instagram story with motionfrom single alpha layer to instagram story with motion
Go from a solo alpha transparency layer to a fully animated Instagram story with a great parallax effect.

Keep Creating With Envato Tuts+

Learn After Effects: Free Course

All Envato Tuts+ courses are now free! And we're adding more courses to our YouTube channel regularly. Here's a great course by Jonathan Lam about how to create an Instagram Stories template in After Effects.

More Top Templates for After Effects

If you need more templates for Instagram, Envato Elements has unlimited download on After Effects templates, plus millions of other create assets. Here area a few more of our favourites: 

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