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Modifying camera paths

From: Motion Control 3D: Bringing Your Photos to Life in Three Dimensions

Video: Modifying camera paths

Because camera paths are generated with keyframes, you can take advantage of several different options inside of After Effects to improve them. We can add Ease, we can add Bezier handles, all sorts of things to make this scene more natural. Let's start with this first image here, and as I drag through you see that there are three sets of keyframes. This middle keyframe was randomly placed to add some motion and have this tilt up. Well, that's going to feel like a bit of a bump in a camera move, because the smoothest way to make a curved line is just two points.

Modifying camera paths

Because camera paths are generated with keyframes, you can take advantage of several different options inside of After Effects to improve them. We can add Ease, we can add Bezier handles, all sorts of things to make this scene more natural. Let's start with this first image here, and as I drag through you see that there are three sets of keyframes. This middle keyframe was randomly placed to add some motion and have this tilt up. Well, that's going to feel like a bit of a bump in a camera move, because the smoothest way to make a curved line is just two points.

If I right-click on this keyframe, I could tell it to Rove Across Time, and what that's going to do is naturally determine where that keyframe should be placed so it doesn't feel like a bump in the camera path, and that's important. It will smooth out the motion, and as we continue to make additional adjustments that works really well. For example, if I want to have a little resolution at the end of the shot, I could pull that in, and you see that we've got 2 seconds of pad at the end here and the roving keyframes automatically adjusted.

I'm now going to right-click and choose Keyframe Assistant > Easy Ease In, and that will create a gradual stop. If we look at the Velocity here, you see it ramps down slowly. Similarly, we will add a little bit of resistance up front, and we will tell that to do an easy Ease Out. So looking at your Velocity graph, you get a good idea of how this has nice natural motion, and remember, you can always adjust the curve handle here to refine that, and let's take a quick look, and it's doing the RAM preview.

Now RAM previewing at full quality may take some time, and if you want, you could drop that down to quarter or half for faster previews. Notice, there I could just drop that down, and going to Half quality gives me that real-time performance, in fact, faster than real time, and it makes it much more intuitive to design with. That's working well, and we have a nice natural motion there, including a land with some pad and handles at the end, and notice that really gradual start to the camera move.

It doesn't too mechanical anymore. It feels more fluid and organic. Let's go to the next comp, and I want to refine these a bit. Now I am going to take advantage of the move here. If I click on this, I could actually see the camera path, and let's select this side and zoom in. Because there's the actual camera path there, you can use the Bezier tools. So I can convert this here and drag to round that out.

Let's select the next keyframe, there it is, and I can create a nice smooth path. I am just using J, K, L to move between keyframes. Click and drag and notice they are Beziers. I can even create an S shape to the curve. Now as we drag that through, you see the impact, and it makes it feel a little more like a hand-held bobble there as the camera arcs around and swings back in.

That's really kind of cool. It's like taking the straight crane move and making it a curved dolly track. Here we go, and you could do that for other properties as well. There is the point of interest right there, and I could smooth that out in the middle there so it's a more gentle arc. Let's drag through, and you see that feels more natural as it rounds the curve and comes out.

So all of these camera paths with position and point of interest can have their Bezier handles adjusted, and you could do that right up here in the window. If you need to do it independently and Alt-click on the handle, will let you move just one side of that path. There we go. That works nicely, and I will just drag through, and you see the change. Let's go to the last one here and take a look at the moves.

It all seems pretty good, but what I want to do is a small change. I want to actually reverse the camera path, start wide and push in. By selecting both keyframes there I could choose Keyframe Assistant and tell them to Reverse. Now the animation has been swapped into a push. I will take this and do a nice easy Ease In to come to a gradual stop, and we will preview that out, and that's what it looks like, pushing into the rock outcropping, and it's going to come to a gradual stop on our subject.

So as you see, there we've got the ability to really refine the camera, taking advantage of ease, vector tools to adjust the path and its shape, as well as keyframe assistance work very well. However, there are a couple additional truly advanced options to really sell the shot.

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