There are a multitude of techniques you can use to animate a photo in After Effects, but our favorite approach has to be utilizing a depth map.
This hasn’t always been easy. In the past, artists had to manually create a depth map by estimating and painting the greyscale images themselves. With the advances and accessibility of Machine Learning tools, a better approach is now readily available.
Photoshop is leading the charge with their Neural Filters. Here’s how to create a Depth Map in Photoshop.
Select your photo layer, go to Filter > Neural Filters > Depth Blur and toggle it on. Then select Output Depth Map Only and once it is done processing in the cloud, select Duplicate Layer and hit Okay
Now you can easily animate your image using your depth map and the displacement map plugin in After Effects!