Join Lee Lanier for an in-depth discussion in this video Animating a post camera move, part of VFX Techniques: Creating a Laser Battle.
- We're almost done with the first shot. We have laser beams, we have the interactive lighting, and we have lens flares. Let's play it back. There we go. Let me show you where I wound up with the CC light raise. So I decided not to animate the radius orb softness. You can, but I just left mine fixed at 25 and 100. Now the intensity and center is definitely animated, so I'll show you where the center is. Starts at the tip of the gun in front of the beam, out the edge of frame, back to the tail, and out again.
And the same thing happens for the second time he fires. The intensity fluctuates from zero being off, to about 150 at its peak intensity. So there's one last step for this shot that would be good to add and that's a more aggressive camera move. Now the camera is moving at this point. It is handheld, but it's not really reacting to this blast. If this laser beam went off and is that intense, the camera man would move, like flinch, or perhaps there would be a buffet.
We can do that, we can add a post-camera move on top of the original right here in After Effects. To do that, I just need another composition. So, composition, new composition. Same resolution, duration, and frame rates. I'll call this shot one camera. Make sure that's in the shot one folder, and then into this composition I will drag shot one flares. Just one time. Now in order for the post-camera move to work I need to make sure that this nested version is larger than the composition and it's not right now, so I do have to scale this up.
We're gonna scale it to 110 percent. Now be careful whenever you go over 100 percent, you're going to degrade the image, and it eventually gets very soft. In this case though, because I started with a full HD image, and because it's a fairly short shot with some additional motion blur which we'll add in a second, that it'll work okay in this case. So now it's a matter of moving this around, or rotating it to make it look like the camera's moving more than it originally was. So I need to animate the position and the rotation.
And I can start with the default position for the first frame or choose a new position. Doesn't really matter. Let's say that's a good place to start. Now go deeper into the timeline and add more key frames. Now, I'll give you some values. You don't have to match these exactly, but the goal is to make it look like the camera kind of kicks or rocks as the beam goes by. Let's give it a try. So let's say frame 11, nothing's happening yet, maybe the camera just drifts a little bit, so I'll change the position slightly. Let's say, 1008, 536.
Now you can either change the values here, or move it by hand up here in the viewer, either way. So not much is going on here at frame 11 but if we go to frame 19, the laser's firing. Now, let's say the camera man has not quite yet reacted, he's about to, but not yet. So here, there's no rotation yet so I'm going to force a zero rotation. Right mouse button click, and add keyframe, and then I'll change the position slightly, or I can even just leave the position exactly where it is. Let's try that, I want to force a new key right here also.
But then, on frame 20, that's when the camera reacts, so I'm going to make a big rotation or a larger rotation of three, so you see it tilts, and then just adjust the position so I don't see the frame edge. Maybe something like 1004, 539. A few frames later the camera calms down, so let's go to frame 22. And maybe there's an opposite reaction, so the camera rotates back the opposite direction to negative one.
And again, I can adjust the position slightly. Let's say 993, 548. Then things start to go back to normal, so let's say around frame 30 the camera man has leveled off the camera again, so back to zero rotation. And maybe a slight adjustment of position 996, 556. But then there's one more laser blast, so once again, a big rotation, three. And then to avoid seeing any kind of black edge here, again, adjust the position.
Again, you can have your own values here, you can have your own camera move, but the goal is to make the camera react. Let's play it back. So you see little bumps as the shot goes by. And so you can continue to work on this. You can update the key frames. You can also go into the graph editor. For example, you can separate the position into x and y, separate dimensions, look at these curves inside the graph editor, adjust them. There's a rotation. You can also adjust the tangent types.
You can select the keyframes, either all of them or one of them. Right mouse button click on one of them, go to keyframe interpolation, and for example, switch it to say Auto Bezier, which will neatly thread the curves through those keyframes. Anything you'd normally do with animation, feel free to do here. Now as a last final touch, you create that motion blur. Since this layer is animated, I can add motion blur that's appropriate for the motion. So, I go to toggle switches. I can click the motion blur button here, and also for the entire composition, and then play it back.
And there we go, there's a post-camera move. So as a final step we added the cam move to make the laser blast look even more powerful. And that was just a matter of animating the position and rotation of a nested copy of the shot.
- Running particle simulations to create beams and sparks
- Altering the beams with distortion, blur, and color effects
- Creating interactive lighting through masking and color grading
- Creating set damage by rotoscoping and integrating matte paintings
- Animating post camera moves
- Matching effects through multiple shots