There's a good chance something like what you seek can be built in Motion... but I (for one) would need a lot more information about your requirements.
1) How do you want the zoom in/out to be determined
2) will you need to have a "center focus" for each image for the zooming action to target
3) would you be willing to set these for each clip you use?
In other words, an exact description of how you want the "flow" over multiple clips to go. (I discourage considering drop zones...)
A generalized effect of this type can be built as a transition.
I use iMovie for that. then import it back to FCPX. It works randomly and automatically in iMovie, like you want. Works great, but seems kinda backward to go to a lesser program to get what you want.
Here is an example (Ken Burns on still images near the beginning of the video).
I hope this helps.
Edit: Oh, I just re-read your post. I missed the part about you not wanting to use iMovie. Sorry. LOL
Aperture does slide shows with a random Ken Burns effect very nicely. It also allows you to edit the start and end positions of individual images if need be. The auto KB tends to cut off heads at times, etc., so tweaking the effect is useful. Duration is also adjustable. Export QT movie from Aperture and into FCPX for adding intro,etc.
As Dano said above, iMovie actually does an amazing job doing random Ken Burns movements on photos. The movements feel truly random, do not ease in and out, and 90% of the time focus on the correct part of the image. This is exactly what I am looking for in FCP X. While I know it is easy to migrate from iMovie to FCP X, I would really like to stay in the Final Cut environment for this lengthy project as I need to be utilizing tools only available in Final Cut and there will be revisions.
What I am trying to figure out is if there is a solution in FCP X or a third party plugin that will handle the Ken Burns effect the same way the iMovie does.
Thanks everyone for your input thus far!
As far as I can tell, FCPX already does what you want. Admittedly, I absolutely ***abhor*** iMovie... have not used it since iMovie HD (6) and really didn't like the newer versions at all. I simply will not use it — so I wasn't exactly sure what you were talking about... And Ken Burns? Never use it myself although I do see why it's popular.
Then I wrote this whole other message about ... well doesn't matter now...
Then I started thinking: FCPX has a facial recognition feature... color correction... grouping clips... other stuff... why wouldn't it use that info in Ken Burns.
Then I went into FCPX and tried out a few things, and "Lo AND Behold: EUREKA!" -- I think it's in there! (I am, however, basing it on this one image I tried... keep that in mind.)
Facial Recognition is in the list of import options:
I suspect all you need is Find People.
Then, in the storyline, when you first apply the Ken Burns crop:
Those two rectangles are the ones FCPX picked initially -- all I've done here is click on the Ken Burns button. That's a pretty d#@~ good guess! (I'm impressed -- and that pillarboxing you see is actually part of the image! -- it's a copy of an old slide I converted to digital.) I have not seen this kind of "pick" in any other kind of image I've tried (and I've seen some pretty funky ones), and, it probably won't work without the Find People attribute checked on import (You can go back and reimport all the same images/clips as before, the newer metadata versions should simply replace the older versions without duplications.)
It will not, however, randomly pick the direction (AFAICT) -- but you can reverse the "pick" with the double curved arrows icon at the top left corner.
Check out Photo Montage which allows you to import many pictures at once and auto animate:
The Tutorial for using it in FCP X:
Full disclosure: I work for Noise Industries
Hope this helps!
I may receive some form of compensation, financial or otherwise, from my recommendation or link.
This isn't random -- it's just a simple "point n shoot camera" (called Just Camera). It is a "Title" (but with no active text). You can span your entire storyline with it -- transitions, titles, and all -- and keyframe "camera actions" (position, zoom, *rotation!*). It has an onscreen control for a "center point" (will depend on zoom). There are no "ease" elements to any of the animation transitions. All linear... all the time. (Rotation includes X and Y rotations in 3D space.)
It's very lightweight.
[Somebody else needed a Ken Burns that did more than a few movements per clip]
Here's yet another approach,
I've never found the concept of random moves on stills (a la iPhoto) to be all that satisfying – mainly because in the end I want the photo composed to draw attention to something specific to that photo . So in the end, most of the moves I get have to be done over.
One compromise is to create generic "templates" by using compound clips. Then copy and paste attributes to multiple clips in a project.
So compound clips might variously be named Zoom In, Zoom Out, Tilt Up, Zoom and Pan Right, and so forth. Select the clips you want to use a specific move on, paste attributes and check Transform. Then tweak as necessary.
Just a thought.