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Using the camera tools with the active camera

From: After Effects Apprentice 11: 3D Space

Video: Using the camera tools with the active camera

In the previous movie we added a camera to our scene; before we learn how to animate it, I think it's important to learn how to use the Camera tools, both in the Active Camera View and in the orthographic views. The most important thing to remember about the Camera tools is that they operate differently depending on which view you're working in. If you use any of the Camera tools directly in the Active Camera View, you're actually changing the values for the Point of Interest and Position. In other words you're moving the actual camera.

Using the camera tools with the active camera

In the previous movie we added a camera to our scene; before we learn how to animate it, I think it's important to learn how to use the Camera tools, both in the Active Camera View and in the orthographic views. The most important thing to remember about the Camera tools is that they operate differently depending on which view you're working in. If you use any of the Camera tools directly in the Active Camera View, you're actually changing the values for the Point of Interest and Position. In other words you're moving the actual camera.

When you use the Camera tools in one of the orthographic views, you're only changing the preview, not the actual camera. I'll show you why it's so useful to optimize your view in the next movie. For now, let's just focus on using the Camera tools in the Active Camera View. I'll select my Camera and these are the default settings for a 50 millimeter camera. If you've been playing with the camera, simply twirl it up and down again and click the Reset button; this will reset the parameters to the default settings, so you don't have to go and make a new camera.

Clicking Reset is also good anytime in this tutorial, but you want to just play around, make a mess, and then reset it and explore some of the other Camera tools. Instead of looking at all the parameters though, I'm going to press P to reveal Position and Shift+A to look at the Point of Interest. Remember that the Point of Interest is the point around which the camera orbits, and you'll only have a Point of Interest if your camera is a Two-Node Camera. So let's look at the Camera tools.

We have a Unified Camera tool introduced in CS4, and that allows you to use a three-button mouse to activate any of the individual tools. So starting with the Camera Z tool and working directly in the Active Camera View, notice when I use it in the Active Camera View, I'm changing the Z value for the Position of the camera. Now, it's important to point out that only the back of the camera is moving. Notice the Point of Interest is not moving.

That behavior is new in CS5.5. If you're using an earlier version, you'll see the Z value for Point of interest also change. If you don't want that behavior, remember you can also just scrub the value for Position and then only the back of the camera will change. Our next Camera tool is the Camera XY tool. If I use it in the Active Camera View, I can move the Camera and the Point of Interest, Left, Right, and Up and Down.

In the Timeline, notice the value for Z is not changing. Only the X value or the Y value is changing. Or you can move X and Y at the same time. Our last individual tool, the Orbit Camera tool, will actually orbit the camera around the Point of Interest. With the Two-Node Camera, you're always moving the back of the camera when you use the Orbit Camera tool. Notice in the Timeline, the value for Point of Interest is not changing.

Well, I mentioned that if you have a three-button mouse, you can instead use the Unified Camera tool, and that allows you to quickly use the Orbit Camera tool when you press the left-mouse button. When I press the right-mouse button, I'll get the Track Z tool and, again, the behavior is a little different than CS5.5, because it only changes the back of the camera. The middle mouse button will give me the Track XY tool. If you can't use the Unified Camera tool because you have a regular mouse, notice that the shortcut is C for the Camera tools.

So how this works is, if I have the Selection tool active and I press C, it will jump to the Unified Camera tool. If I press C again, I'll get the next tool, Orbit Camera, press C again for the Track XY tool, and press C again for the Track C tool. So once you learn what the different icons look like, you can pretty quickly press C to toggle among the different tools. To sum up, whenever you use the Camera tools directly in the Active Camera View, you're changing the values for the actual camera.

You can also of course just change the values by scrubbing them in the Timeline. In the next movie, I'll show you how to use the same Camera tools, but in the orthographic and custom views.

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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 · 14217 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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