2.5D Parallax Photo Effect – Animating Photos

Let’s talk about the 2.5D Parallax Photo Effect. What is it? How to create it? When can it be used, and what are the advantages? And I will also show several examples I created in recent months. So, let’s begin.

What Is 2.5D Parallax Photo Effect?

Parallax is a displacement or difference in the apparent position of an object viewed along two different lines of sight and is measured by the angle or semi-angle of inclination between those two lines. The term is derived from Ancient Greek παράλλαξις (parallaxis), meaning ‘alternation.’ Due to foreshortening, nearby objects show a larger parallax than farther objects when observed from different positions, so parallax can be used to determine distances.

To measure vast distances, such as the distance of a planet or a star from Earth, astronomers use the principle of parallax. Here, the term parallax is the semi-angle of inclination between two sight-lines to the star, as observed when Earth is on opposite sides of the Sun in its orbit.

Parallax also affects optical instruments such as rifle scopes, binoculars, microscopes, and twin-lens reflex cameras that view objects from slightly different angles. Many animals, including humans, have two eyes with overlapping visual fields that use parallax to gain depth perception; this process is known as stereopsis.

Source: Wikipedia

2.5D Parallax Photo Effect is a pseudo-3D effect. Meaning we are using regular photos to simulate 3D footage. In other words, we are animating pictures, making them come to life.

After the theoretical explanation, an example will clear things up. Here is an example I created after a recent visit to the Negev desert:

How to Create A 2.5D Parallax Photo Effect?

The most common way of animating a photo is using photoshop. But this is not the only way. There are also apps, like ‘Parallax It!’ and others.

Here is a youtube tutorial by Spoon Graphics using Photoshop:

Note: if you want to create something similar to the tutorial, consider taking two photos. Both photos will have the same scene, but only one has a person. The second photo, without the person, will be handy when the background behind the person is not repetitive. There will be no need to clone stamp it. You can quickly take it from the second photo.

When to Use and What are the Advantages?

One of the possible usages is animating old photos. For example, you have an old or even a historical picture, and you do not have footage, i.e., video. You can create 2.5D Parallax and insert the animated photos into the final movie.

Another scenario is when, during the shooting, you do not have enough time to make both the photo and the video. For example, you are on a family vacation with your kids.

Since not many people are familiar with the 2.5D Parallax effect, it remains unique and can spice things up. Not necessarily as a part of a movie but also as a standalone on social networks. In my case, they performed pretty well on Instagram.

My motivation for creating this effect was different. First of all, I love learning new things and trying them out. Secondly, I am bummed about the video on DSLR. I have a full-frame Nikon DSLR, and it can be used to produce excellent photographs. But, when it comes to video, it is, if I put it delicately, horrible. Do not let me get started with autofocus issues. But even something more basic like the 4K video recording. I said “basic,” not because it is easy to implement but because most smartphones today can record 4K, while many DSLRs cannot. My smartphone, which is much cheaper than my DSLR, can record 4K. Thus, 2.5D Parallax attempts to use my DSLR’s strength (phono) in its weak area (video). And this is not my first attempt. If you look at the Personal Projects category, you will see different techniques for creating videos from stills, like Time-lapse videos, Hyperlapse, Stop Motion, and Cinemagraphs.


In this section, I will show several additional examples of 2.5D Parallax. Here is an example from Ramat Gan Safari:

And this is from Arbel Nature Reserve:

Red Canyon near Eilat:

In this example, I played with the puppet pin tool. And as we zoom in, the Nile crocodile’s eye gets smaller.

And lastly, you can create short video clips from photos in many different ways. Here is an example of a diver’s appearance.


2.5D Parallax photo effect is one of those tools that you will not be using too frequently. But it has its place, and it is worth knowing it.

Have you ever created 2.5D Parallax? Where and how did you use it? Tell us in the comments below. 

Additional Resources

Here are several resources that I created to help travelers:

And if you have any questions then check out Useful Information For Tourists To Israel.

Did not find what you were looking for? Leave a comment below, and I will do my best to answer your questions.

Lev Tsimbler

Lev from israel-in-photos.com. You can contact me at hi@israel-in-photos.com

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