The Droste effect is a fun manipulation that creates an image within a copy of that image, within another copy of that image, ad infinitum (or as far as the visual resolution will allow). Video #20 in my #100videoclips project shows the Droste effect and animates it.
The image below is the namesake of the Droste effect, so I suppose it is the original inspiration.
(You can get more details and examples at Wikipedia.)
However, I recently had a photo shoot with my family and a framed mirror. From that shoot, I put together this:
Afterwards, I thought it would be fun to create a Droste effect picture as an animation, so I used a different family member for this round.
What I Did
For a more manual approach:
- Take a photo that includes some object with a frame or boundary.
- In Photoshop, delete the interior of the frame.
- Make a copy of just the frame, and enlarge and rotate it (using Transform, or Cmd/Ctrl+T) so it frames the larger picture.
- This will give you the proper framing and aspect ratio for the small frames.
- Before you confirm the transformation, record the percent size change and the degree of angle rotation of the enlarged frame.
- Select and copy the larger image inside the larger frame.
- Transform the larger picture by typing in the inverse of the percent size change (1/%) and the opposite of the angle of rotation (-A) from step 3.
- That should make the copied image the right size to fit into your smaller frame.
- Position the copy so it fits into the smaller frame.
- Duplicate that layer (Cmd/Ctrl + J), then Transform Again: Edit, Transform, Again or Cmd/Ctrl + Shft + T.
- If all works well, that will apply the exact same transformation and give you a perfect, smaller copy inside your existing frame.
- The first time I did this, I didn’t know about the “Transform Again” trick and did everything by eye.
- Keep duplicating until your copies are too small to discern.
- In the tiny space at the center of the smallest frame, fill with a predominant color from your scene.
That creates the Droste effect on the still photo.
For my Droste animation, I first animated the appearance of the layers. I had taken a picture of the couch without anyone in front of it during the photo shoot, so I could fill the empty frame with a picture of the couch.
For the second part of the animation, I did the following:
- Make two video tracks, each with a copy of the completed (Droste) photo.
- Move clip 2 on the second track so it is a few seconds later than the clip 1 on the first track (however long you want the transition from one frame to the other).
- Keyframe the position, size and rotation of clip 1 at the first frame.
- Make clip 2 50% transparent.
- Where clip 1 meets clip 2, rotate and enlarge clip 1 until it matches clip 2.
- Cut clip 1 and that point, then copy clip 1 multiple times, which should result in the “infinity” loop effect.
Whew! I don’t know if that’s clear or just a mess of confusion. :/ But I hope it helps. (If something isn’t clear, please leave a note.)
What I Learned
Apparently, the Droste effect can be automated using the HyperDroste app (iPhone only, which I don’t have). However, it’s interesting to work through the problem “by hand” (with help from Photoshop).