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Animating a 3D camera

From: After Effects Apprentice 11: 3D Space

Video: Animating a 3D camera

Now that you know how to use the Camera tools, both in the Active Camera View and in the orthographic and custom views, we can now focus on how to animate the camera. Quite often I like to work in the Top View and in the Left View, and I've already optimized both of these views so that I can see all of the layers and the camera inside the composition background. So now that we're set up, I'll press F10 to see my Top View, and I'll also just reset my Camera again, and let's start talking about how to animate.

Animating a 3D camera

Now that you know how to use the Camera tools, both in the Active Camera View and in the orthographic and custom views, we can now focus on how to animate the camera. Quite often I like to work in the Top View and in the Left View, and I've already optimized both of these views so that I can see all of the layers and the camera inside the composition background. So now that we're set up, I'll press F10 to see my Top View, and I'll also just reset my Camera again, and let's start talking about how to animate.

Now, one thing you have to remember when you're using a Two-Node Camera, which has a Point of Interest, is that if you're going to move the Point of Interest and look at different areas of your scene, you will have to animate Point of Interest as well. Let me undo. It's a common mistake to turn on the stopwatch just for the camera's Position, but if you plan on changing the Point of Interest, don't forget to also enable the stopwatch for Point of Interest. Now, in this particular case I just like to orbit around my Point of Interest, I don't right now plan on editing it, so I'll turn off the stopwatch.

However, I will leave the Point of Interest visible, that way I can keep an eye on its value, just in case I accidentally change it by using one of the Camera tools. And I'll press C to jump to the Camera tool. I'll use the Orbit Camera tool to swing around the camera, so that it's looking at the layers from the right-hand side. Because I have the stopwatch enabled, that will be the value for the first keyframe. If I move later in time, let's say about 2 seconds, and then I use the Orbit Camera tool to swing around to look at the layers from another point of view, it may appear in the Active Camera View that I'm doing a very nice orbit, and this is kind of a gotcha, because what you see is not what you're going to get.

If you notice in the Top View, when I make my second keyframe where the camera is on the left-hand side, it's actually just remembering this position, and in between there is a Motion Path that's a straight line. I'll press V to return to the Selection tool, select the keyframe, and you notice it has two handles. When I was using the Orbit Camera tool, it appeared that the back of the camera was swinging in a nice arc, but in order to actually create that arc, you will need to pull the handles out and create that arc yourself.

And if you don't do that, let me just undo, what you'll actually end up with is a path that gets closer to the layers in the center of the animation. So again, this wasn't what I was seeing as I was swiveling around the Orbit Camera tool. One way to solve this problem is to make an Orbit Camera Rig, and I'll cover that in the next movie, but for now I'll just pull the handles out for both keyframes, and that should make for a nice smooth orbiting move. Remember you can also change the camera just by pulling the back of the camera in the Top View, or I could move the camera higher.

I'll press F11, and then I can drag the Y axis arrow. But this also moves the Point of Interest. I can check that's the case by watching its value change in the Timeline, but I haven't actually turned on the stopwatch for the Point of Interest. So when I return to time 0, my first keyframe looks completely different in the Active Camera View, and that's because the Point of Interest has been changed for the entire lens of the composition. So let me Undo and I'll remind you of a little shortcut.

If I want to raise the camera higher but leave the Point of Interest alone, I simply press the Command key on Mac, Ctrl key on Windows, and now I can look down at my scene, or I can come closer to my scene by pressing the Command key, the Point of Interest will not be changed. So have some fun. There is no right and wrong way to animate the camera, but it is important to look at the Motion Path from a couple of different views, because it's very hard to know what's going on with the layer if you only look at it from the Top View. So if you set up your shortcuts for F10 and F11, it's very easy to pop back and forth and check how those handles are looking.

If you have the project file, go ahead and open our finished version from the Comps_Finished folder. I'll RAM preview. Here you can see I have set a number of keyframes for Position. The first two keyframes move the camera very quickly and then there's about a second and a-half or so where it moves slowly, and then another 10 frames, where it does a quick swivel. Because Motion Blur is enabled for all the layers, you get that nice Swish Pan Effect any time the camera moves quickly. Now, in this case we only have Easy Ease In set for the last keyframe, but remember you can always go into the Graph Editor, select the Camera, and it will show you the Speed Graph for Position.

If it's not showing you the Speed Graph, just set it to Auto-Select Graph Type or select Speed Graph. And you can see that it's moving very quickly for the first 10 frames, and in the next section it's moving quite slowly, and then it moves very quickly for 10 frames and so on, and then at the end it slowly eases into the last keyframe. And if I wanted to round out some of the timing here, I could select all of the keyframes except for the last one, and pick the Convert selected keyframes to Auto Bezier.

Now we'll just round out the hard edges so that the animation is not quite so jarring. So don't forget to go into the Graph Editor and check it out, as well as check out some of the handles on the Motion Path, you might find, like this Position here, that the handles are maybe not optimized as well as they could be. I'll leave you with another variation from the Idea Corner folder. Here we took the same elements, but animated the individual parts of the logo. Remember you know how to animate layers and you know how to animate the camera, so there's no reason why you couldn't combine those two techniques.

In the next movie, I'll show you how to Parent your camera to a Null Object as we set up a basic Orbit Camera Rig.

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This video is part of

Image for After Effects Apprentice 11: 3D Space
After Effects Apprentice 11: 3D Space

54 video lessons · 14116 viewers

Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer
Author

 
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  1. 4m 47s
    1. Welcome
      2m 47s
    2. Using the exercise files
      2m 0s
  2. 15m 12s
    1. Comparing 2D and 3D
      5m 30s
    2. Rotation in 3D
      4m 47s
    3. Keyframing in 3D
      4m 55s
  3. 15m 9s
    1. Multi-planing workaround in 2D
      3m 21s
    2. Using 3D views
      6m 45s
    3. Natural multi-planing in 3D
      5m 3s
  4. 13m 9s
    1. Keyframing a fly-in
      5m 24s
    2. Editing 3D motion paths
      5m 43s
    3. Auto-orienting a layer along its path
      2m 2s
  5. 1h 4m
    1. Adding a camera to a composition
      9m 0s
    2. Comparing camera presets
      2m 48s
    3. Using the camera tools with the active camera
      4m 48s
    4. Using the camera tools in the alternate views
      4m 50s
    5. 3D view options
      1m 58s
    6. Animating a 3D camera
      6m 20s
    7. Creating an orbit camera rig
      5m 42s
    8. Extending your camera rig
      4m 31s
    9. Auto-orientation with 3D cameras
      7m 33s
    10. Depth of field blur in CS5.5 and later
      5m 47s
    11. Controlling the focal plane in CS5.5 and later
      5m 12s
    12. Iris properties in CS5.5 and later
      6m 16s
  6. 29m 15s
    1. Creating a 3D light
      6m 35s
    2. Working with Point lights
      3m 20s
    3. Working with Spot lights
      3m 48s
    4. Creating shadows
      10m 13s
    5. The Light Falloff feature in After Effects CS5.5 and later
      5m 19s
  7. 48m 6s
    1. Enabling ray-traced 3D in CS6
      3m 26s
    2. Extrusions in CS6
      3m 39s
    3. Bevels in CS6
      5m 39s
    4. Bending layers in CS6
      5m 35s
    5. Transparency in CS6
      4m 20s
    6. Refraction in CS6
      4m 6s
    7. Targeting Surfaces in CS6
      3m 23s
    8. Reflections in CS6
      7m 35s
    9. Environment layers in CS6
      5m 40s
    10. Quality vs. speed in CS6
      4m 43s
  8. 11m 33s
    1. Quizzler challenge for CS6
      1m 42s
    2. Quizzler solution for CS6
      9m 51s
  9. 41m 6s
    1. Vanishing Point Exchange in Photoshop Extended
      9m 18s
    2. Vanishing Point Exchange in After Effects
      4m 38s
    3. Importing a 3D model into Photoshop Extended in CS5.5 and earlier
      9m 7s
    4. Creating 3D objects using Repoussé in CS5.5 and earlier
      9m 46s
    5. Live Photoshop 3D inside After Effects in CS5.5 and earlier
      8m 17s
  10. 20m 58s
    1. Introduction to dimensional stills
      3m 41s
    2. Cutting up the source image
      2m 25s
    3. Repairing the layers in Photoshop
      8m 26s
    4. Animating the resulting layers in After Effects
      6m 26s
  11. 25m 27s
    1. Rotation vs. orientation
      3m 15s
    2. Understanding the axis modes
      4m 4s
    3. Scaling issues in 3D
      4m 57s
    4. OpenGL acceleration in CS5 and earlier
      6m 23s
    5. Fast previews in CS6 and later
      6m 48s

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