What do you call these effects? Pull Focus

I have seen on TV and in a slide show an effect where, for instance, a portrait mode photo appears on the screen with a blurred, widened version of the same photo appearing behind it to cover the normally exposed black pillars. What effect is this and can it be achieved in Shotcut?


It’s not an effect, it’s a way of filling a 16:9 ratio space with a blurred background to some idiots 9:16 ‘vertical’ video. :smiley:
One of my pet peeves is people holding their phones vertically to shoot video and stills, yet they hold the phone horizontally to watch video and play games.
It’s a fault in their brains I’m sure of it.

There’s nothing in SC to do this automatically as far as I know. But you can stretch/distort and blur the video on V1 then overlay the vertical video on V2.
Of course you will need to set the video mode correctly before you begin.

You can do this with a frame grab as a bitmap for the blurred background also.

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Thanks Steve. I tend to share your sentiments about so many cellphone photos in portrait - when you want to show them on a tv. The thing that intrigues me is I went to a memorial for a friend today and saw this effect used over and over in a video. Old photos of course come in many different formats and I used a light pink background in my recent memorial video - which worked fine. Since I am familiar with making this type of video the one I saw today had some particular characteristics - which I noticed! The chapel put this thing together (program unknown) and it was obvious they didn’t touch up any photos. And, all the photos that didn’t fit full-screen had this blurred background effect. The Intro and Outro were very nice but obviously “canned”, picked from a menu. But these background effects looked to me like they were pre-built, possibly click and drop, but maybe even set as a default effect for the entire slideshow. I’m just trying to pin this down.


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Lots of churches have projection software. It is very likely that is what they used to make the slideshow . I bet if you go back and ask they can tell you the name of it, but it is likely to cost a lot. I think you can do the same thing in gimp. Say you have a 5x6 portrait photo Make your project a 16x9 size, make a background layer and crop the photo at 16x9 and expand it to fit the background, that should make it blurry, but you can add more blur if you want. When you have it the way you want then just save it. Do that to all your photos. It may take a few hours but its free. I am very new to both Gimp and shotcut but that’s the way I would try do it. then just import to shotcut and add audio and save.

Hi, you ask what the effect is called. It is a type of “BOKEH” effect and is used a lot on various webpages. See:

No, sorry but that’s not a type of Bokeh at all. The effect the OP describes has nothing to do with a lens’ quality of OOF field depths.

Yeah, trying to search for this effect I ran into all kinds of DOF effects for photo taking and very little for what I described. I did see one YouTube video which showed how to manually do this with two layers or tracks, widening the lower layer/track and adding the blur effect. But the effect I saw looked to me like a track effect - apply it to the track and any photos not covering the full screen exposed the background effect. It even worked on Ken Burns style pan and zoom. I can’t image the chapel staff taking the time to manually apply this effect to 50 photos when they very obviously didn’t do touch up on them. Even the sequence was random/out of order. That’s why I am posting here. There must a commercial trade name for this effect and I am eliciting all your help to dig it out. Thanks!


According to this website it is called the “Pull Focus” effect.


Trouble is, not everybody calls it that. Makes it difficult to search for.


The problem with doing this in Shotcut is that the Blur filter is really quite bad.

Yes, I noticed that. It shows an odd edge effect, the greater the blur. Watching YouTube videos I now notice that many of the cute small animal videos my wife likes are shot in portrait AND have the “pull focus” effect. Maybe iMovie has this available. I wish the name of it was consistent.


You can set filters to an entire track; I see two ways that this could work:

  1. Have two identical tracks, the same portrait-oriented pictures in both. Select the video track – it will turn blue and yellow – without selecting any of its clips. Then apply Size&Position (set to Distort), Blur, and Opacity filters to the track.


  1. Leave a blank video track underneath all of your images. Export the video of images without the effect (a black background behind the images), then import the exported file into the project as a separate track, and apply the filters to that clip/track. You’ll have to manually set the “Size and Position” filter to be stretched the way you want, but, you’ll only have to set it once.

Thanks John. I tried your number 1 and it does work for the entire track, which a good start. Then I tried adding a cross-dissolve. The V1 track immediately disappears. I think I had to add the Alpha Channel: Adjust filter to see my pink backgrounds in my earlier project- but I haven’t found any way to get the cross-dissolves to work properly with a track property.

Edit: thanks for the tip about “Distort.” I didn’t try that and it works much better for this application. -=Ken=-

This is all rather maddening to me because my 12 yo g-daughter has a new YouTube channel since she has become something of an expert at applying makeup (12? yikes). She does a very good job using iMovie - entirely in her iPhone! Stuff it would have taken a full-fledged editor some years ago. Intro, outro, background music, cuts, fades, surprisingly good timing and production values ----- all on her iPhone!

I still say that the slideshow I saw was run by someone who knows nothing about these issues including effects. Copy a bunch of photos, drop them on a single track timeline and render. Besides pull focus it had also Ken Burns style zoom and pan! There was never a black pillar bar anywhere in the presentation. This was designed to be dead simple so anyone can do it. And it has me digging to find out how. Thanks for your contributions.


Shotcut isn’t a ‘Wizard’ style auto-movie maker app though. So not fair to compare really.

I’m just exploring the possibilities Steve. I just discovered if you put photos into iMovie it will automatically create cross-dissolves and add a Ken Burns effect. And, if you don’t like where the pan and/or zoom starts/ends you can pinch that little video track and set it the way you want. Who knew? I sure didn’t. My biggest complaint is getting the video off the dang phone!

After playing for awhile I still like a full-featured, full-screen editor to work with. And I like this community. No other FOSS video editor has a community like this one. Try getting a question answered in the KDE forum. I posted a Kdenlive question and waited four days for the first answer. I posted a scanner question and waited a month!!! Love it here. And, thanks for being a regular :slight_smile:


I use WiFi File Transfer for Android.
Not sure if this is also available for iOS.
There are other apps that can do the same thing, though I find WFT simple to set up and use.

I used to use SweetHome as it would automatically transfer files from the phone as soon as I was in range of the router, but after getting a phone that shoots 4K video it began to fail too often with those files.

I think Shotcut can do a decent “Pull Focus” video.


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Well done and all that, but that’s just not good enough by way of an explanation…
For example, Shotcut’s blur filter is not able to give a borderless/clean edge to a stretched video on the background track. Please explain how you were able to achieve this in Shotcut.

Showing an example of a finished clip is all well and good, but just saying “You think shotcut can do a decent…” is hardly helpful to the thread and the OP now is it?

Come on, spill the beans :stuck_out_tongue:

Here’s the beans.

I made 3 video tracks. Put the 4:3 Video on track 1 and 3. Put a color clip on track 2.

On track 3 (4:3) I applied the Mask filter with these parameters.

47 PM

On track 2 (color Clip) applied a Mask filter with these parameters. And an Opacity filter set to 30%.

03 PM

On track 1 (16:9) applied a Blur Width 3px Height 2px a Glow set to 4% and a Rotate filter with these parameters.

01 PM



I’ll give it a shot later… Thanks

Shotcut Forum - the best video forum in the known universe! An in-line video and a step by step with photos - in just a few hours. I am impressed!

sauron, you have achieved hero status with me today. And this isn’t the first time you have gone the extra mile. I just read this and will try it soon. I am liable to have way too much fun :smile: