Prolost Burns

User’s Guide

Prolost Burns is an Animation Preset for Adobe After Effects that makes short work of creating the zooming, dissolving montages of stills known as the "Ken Burns effect."

Installing Prolost Burns

Prolost Burns requires Adobe After Effects CS6 or later.

  1. Double-click Prolost Burns to expand it, and open the Prolost Burns v1.8.2 folder. Inside, you'll find Prolost Burns.ffx.
  2. Copy Prolost Burns.ffx to your User Presets folder. The location of this folder varies with your operating system and your version of After Effects. Locate the User Presets Folder.
  3. Now launch After Effects, and reveal the Effects & Presets panel. Under User Presets, you should see Prolost Burns.

Using Prolost Burns

The best way to get familiar with the preset is to watch the video above, but here's a quick overview:

  • Apply Prolost Burns by dragging it onto a layer, or selecting one or more layers and then double-clicking the Animation Preset.
  • Prolost Burns automatically animates your layer to smoothly zoom from 150% (of the comp height) to 100%, over the layer's duration. The layer will cross-dissolve with the one below it if they overlap in time. The duration of the dissolve matches the amount of overlap.

Prolost Burns has the following controls for customizing the effect:

Scale at Head

Controls the scale at the layer's in point. Regardless of the layer's size or the comp size, scale is expressed in reference to the comp's height or width.

Scale at Tail

Controls the scale at the layer's out point. The layer will smoothly animate from the Scale at Head value to the Scale at Tail value over the layer's duration.

Natural Scale

When checked, scale is animated on an exponential curve, which causes the zoom animation to appear more naturalistic, i.e. the speed of the animation will be perceptually uniform. Uncheck to switch to a linear scale curve.

Custom Center Point

A 2D point on the layer that can optionally be used as the center point for the zooming animation. Select the Prolost Burns effect to make the 2D point control visible in the Comp View for easy visual adjustment.

Use Custom Center Point

Check this box to use the Custom Center Point value as the center point for the zooming animation. When unchecked, the center of the layer will be used instead.

Overlap Fade

When checked, the layer's opacity will automatically be animated from 0% to 100%, to create a cross-dissolve from the layer below. The dissolve will automatically animate for the duration of the ovaerlap between the two layers. See the video for a clear explanation of how this works.

As you sequence your frames in time, you'll want to be consistent about how you cascade them. This will make the automated cross-dissolve feature more intuitive.

Layers cascading up.

Layers cascading down.

You can combine the automatic fade animation with keyframes, and the two will work together.

When Overlap Fade is unchecked, the layer's opacity will be whatever you manually set it to.

Scale 100% To

This pop-up gives you various options for how 100% scale is treated:

  • With Fill the Frame selected, 100% scale will fill the entire frame with the image, cropping if necessary.
  • With Fit Entire Image selected, 100% scale will fit the entire image into the frame, leaving empty areas on the edges if necessary.
  • Select Match Width and 100% scale will fit the edges of the image to the left and right edges of the frame.
  • Select Match Height and 100% scale will fit the top and bottom edges of the image to the top and bottom edges of the frame.


  • Version 1.5:
    • Switched to Custom Effect model.
    • Added pop-up menu with four scale options.
  • Version 1.6
    • Added Natural Scale option.
  • Version 1.7
    • Fixed a bug that would cause errors when Scale at Tail or Scale at Head were set to zero.
  • Version 1.8
    • Massive improvement to the Opacity logic, allowing layers to be stacked up or down, and automatically disabling the overlap dissolve effect when it just wouldn't work.
  • Version 1.8.1
    • Fixed a bug with the new Opacity logic.
  • Version 1.8.2
    • Re-fixed the bug that would cause errors when Scale at Tail or Scale at Head were set to zero.
    • Now the layer will hit the exact Scale at Tail value on its final frame.

Missing Effect Error

If you are using an older version of After Effects, you may get an error about a “missing effect” when applying Prolost Burns, or when opening projects that use it. The error is annoying, but harmless, and Adobe has fixed this issue in subsequent versions of After Effects.