Join Rob Garrott for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating a camera shake effect using precomps, part of CINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After Effects.
At the moment the type explodes out of the platform, the camera leaps backwards as if struck by the shockwave of the explosion. The camera move that I created in CINEMA 4D does move backwards at that moment, but it's not with nearly enough intensity. I did this on purpose. If I'd shaken the camera in CINEMA 4D and then decided later that I didn't like that shake, then I had to go all the way back to CINEMA 4D in order to change that shake. This would cost hours of rendering time. To avoid that cost of the render time, we're going to shake the camera in After Effects. It doesn't look quite as good, but it's much more flexible and that's what we're after here.
In order to shake this, I want to have to shake the entire frame. And rather than try and grab all the layers and keyframe everything independently, it's much easier to simply precompose this entire composition into a new comp and then shake that. So what I'm going to do is go into the Project window and in the Working Comp's folder I'm going to take the MMM-001 composition and I'm going to drag that down onto the New Composition button. What that's going to do is to nest this composition into another comp that's exactly the same size and length as the MMM-001 composition.
That doesn't seem like a big deal, but what this allows us to do now is treat this as a clip. And so now I can scale and rotate and position this clip as if it were a single source and I don't have to deal with all those layers. That's the big advantage of precomposing. The point in time that I want the camera shake to start is that the camera shake marker. So let's zoom in on that area. I am going to move to that point in time and then use the equals key on the keyboard to zoom into my Timeline just a little bit more. At this point in time I want to set keyframes for position, scale, and rotation.
And so I'll hit P and then hold down the Shift key and hit S and R and that's going to bring up the Position, Scale, and Rotation parameters for this layer. Now I'll set the stopwatch for all three layers and I just clicked and dragged across all three of those stopwatches. So what I want to do is to first figure out when I'd like the effect to stop. And I know that I want to have the effect stop somewhere around frame 57. The camera shakes, but it doesn't shake for very long, and I want also that effect to diminish over time.
So I'm going to set a marker here in the Timeline, so I know where I'm trying to get to. Let's enlarge the Timeline a little bit or expand outward. And around frame 57 is where I like the camera to stop, so it's right about there. So if I bring my time slider over to frame 57 and make a marker right there, I know that my keyframes need to end right there. So that gives me a point of reference. Now I can go back to the original point and I'll use the Page Down key. The first thing I want to do is enlarge the layer. So I want to Page Down about maybe two or three frames and I'm going to grab the transform handle and hold down the Shift key and make it larger.
Then I'm going to get the Rotation tool by hitting W on the keyboard and rotate my frame. And I think I want to have it rotated a bit more. I don't have enough room here in the viewport so I'm going to make my Timeline just a little bit smaller. And then let's adjust the scale a bit more. So I'll hit V to give my Selection tool back and I'll hold the Shift key down and enlarge it up a bit. And then let's rotate it just a bit more. And the thing I don't want to do is this. I never want to break the illusion of the frame. So when I rotate it, I'm going to rotate it just to the point where it's about to break the frame and leave it there.
I can also position it in space as well, so I'll hit V to get the Selection tool. I'm going to move it over and down a bit. You have to be careful. See, I don't want to violate that frame edge. So I'm going to bring it over this way. There we go. So that's our first shake point. So it's going to hit that mark and jump. And now we can start to rotate it back the other direction. So let's go up forward about the same number of frames. But each time I do this, I'm going to do it just a little bit less, so that the effect gradually diminishes until we get back to the original position, scale, and rotation.
So let's get that rotation there and I'm going to bring it back just a little bit more and then rotate it. That's pretty good and right about there and I'll scale it down just a bit. Let's rotate it up so I don't accidentally violate that frame. There we go. So now we can check that. It goes boom, boom, and then we are going to go back again. And I'm going to repeat this process and rather than hear me mumble, I'm just going to skip ahead in time until the point where I've got these keyframes just where I want them.
Then we'll RAM Preview and take a look at the shake. So I've got my keyframes now and you can see that I have also stretched them out a bit. I noticed as I was doing this process that I had the keyframes a little bit too close together. And so I spaced them out a little bit more so that I didn't have quite so much shake and so many different vibrations within that span of time. So now what we should do is check our shake to make sure that it feels right, and so I'm going to expand my preview range here. And what we'll do is we're going to start a RAM Preview and let it go all the way to the point just after the shake and stop it and then we'll watch it a couple of times.
So you can see from that that this is a pretty convincing shake effect. As our camera scrubs through this area, boom! It really has a lot more impact now when the explosion happens. Some of these frames though still aren't feeling quite as impactful as I'd like them. So I'm going to make a couple of quick adjustments and then we'll tweak the RAM Preview one more time. So I going to zoom in on that area, hitting equals on the keyboard, and I'm going to go to this keyframe. One of the things you will notice is that the keyframes are not exactly on the frame marker, and that's because I time stretched these keyframes when I was working.
And so when I make a new keyframe here, it's going to jump to that position and what I want to do is just to make the scale a little bit bigger and you'll see that as I do that, I end up with an extra keyframe here. And so what I want to do is to position all these other keyframes on this point in time. And so I'm going to delete that scale keyframe and grab these and move them over a bit. If you're working at home and following along, you may not necessarily have to do this step. It's only because I had used the Option+ Drag tool to time stretch the keyframes while I was working.
And sometimes when you do that, they come up not exactly aligned on a frame. So I'm going to make this scale a lot bigger and rotate it quite a bit more so that I have a much bigger initial impact. And then I want to go forward in time and I'm going to just move these keyframes over so I don't have that same issue again. I'll leave that frame alone and I'll go to the next frame, which needs to be a little bit bigger.
And I'm going to hold the Shift key down to scale it up and rotate it into position. There we go. This kind of exaggerated it a little bit and lined those frames up. So now it's going to go boom, big, small, and then big again, and then back down to small, and then gradually taper off. So now we still got quite a bit left on our RAM Preview cache and so I'm going to back out just a bit in the Timeline and then we'll RAM Preview this one more time and take a look at the changes that we just made.
Excellent! I'm really happy with this camera shake. That little tweak that we added just now really kind of kicked the impact up a notch and technique like this really saves a lot of time and energy. If the client came back to me and said, "You know what Rob, we're really not feeling that camera shake. We want to take it out." If I had done that inside of CINEMA 4D, I would really have a big problem. I'd have to go all the way back to CINEMA 4D, re-render my files, rechange out all the cameras. It dramatically affects my animation. By doing the camera shake here in After Effects, if someone comes back and says they don't like or they want to see a change, it's very, very easy to swap it out.
- Setting up a multi-pass render
- Batch rendering in CINEMA 4D
- Importing 3D elements into After Effects
- Creating and using precomps for compositing control
- Compositing 3D text in a dynamic 3D environment
- Creating a glow effect using Trapcode Starglow
- Using 3D layers to create masking effects
- Adding a flash bulb effect with CC Light Rays
- Adding glows and glints to type
- Creating a 2D camera shake effect using pre-comps
- Adding depth of field with the Lens Blur effect