Learn about animating the Camera in this After Effects CS3 Advanced training video series.
Tags:adobe,adobe after effects cs3,Advanced,after effects,animate,camera,total training
Grab video code:
So let's setup a very simple animation. At the beginning of our composition, let's switch to the Top view. We will use the Esc key because the Top view is the last view we looked at. I am going to hold down the Spacebar and just get my camera into view here. Now I want to create a very easy pan, moving the position of the camera from left to right. So by clicking on the X axis, the red handle at the side of the camera, I will change both the Position values and the Point of Interest values to about 64. Then I will set a keyframe for Position.
Next, I will move it out to about 2 seconds on the Timeline. Then click-and-drag the red axis to the right. In doing so, I can see all of the values for the Point of Interest and Position changing. I have also set a new keyframe for the Position value. However, when I scrub the Timeline, I can see that the Point of Interest value has only been moved and not animated. You need to make sure to set keyframes for Point of Interest, when we are animating that parameter as well.
So we will kill the keyframes for the Position parameter and Reset the values for the camera. When we animate the camera, an even easier way to do so might be to employ the Null Object. So again we can go up to Layer and create a new Null Object or simply use the shortcut key, Command+Option+Shift+Y. This will create a new Null Object in our scene, which we can then make 3D by turning on the switch. If we parent the camera to the Null Object, then open up the Position properties for the Null, we can move the entire camera, both the Point of Interest and the Position together, by animating the Null's Position parameter.
So at the beginning of our composition, we will set a keyframe for Position. The problem that comes up when using another layer to animate the camera, is that by default, we can't see where the camera is looking. In order to turn that on, we will need to go up to the upper-right hand corner of our Composition window and open up the fly-out menu that has the options for our Composition window. So here we find our View Options and selecting that, we can find options for our Camera Wireframes.
In the pull-down, we can see that by default those will only show up when the camera layer is selected. If we turn this to on, then click OK, you can see that regardless of whether or not the layer is selected, the camera's outlines will always be shown. Now we can move the Null Object and by turning on that option, we can see the camera even though only the Null is selected. Out at 2 seconds, we will change our Position for our Null simply by clicking-and-dragging. What we have effectively done is moved the entire camera with all of its transformations from simply left to right. We will undo these two steps, setting the Null back to the center of our scene.
Next, let's take a look at the active camera again by using the Esc key. We will zoom in a bit and bring our layer down into frame. Here we can see that the camera is looking straight ahead and the entire camera with all its parameters is parented to the Null Object. Rather than setting up a Position animation using the Null, we can also set up a Rotation animation using the Null. If we want to make the camera fly around the outside of the solar system toy while always looking at the sun, we can do this by simply animating the Null, one revolution. So at frame 0, we will set a keyframe for Y Rotation of 0. Then 5 seconds later, we will set a Y Rotation value for 1. The Null we only rotate once over the course of 5 seconds and in doing so, it takes the camera with it. If we click-and-scrub inside the animation here, we can see that the camera is flying around the outside and in 5 seconds coming back to rest in it's original position.
The problem, however, is that we are not really looking at the sun. The camera is looking immediately above the sun, exactly where the Null Object is located. Well, that's an easy fix. All we have to do is close up our Null Object parameters and move our Point of Interest down a little bit. So on the Y axis, we will change the Position value. By moving the Position for the Point of Interest down, it appears that we are moving the entire scene up. That's because the camera is now titling down to see more of the floor. We can also move the camera closer by changing it's position from -700 to something greater. Remember, if we change something greater, we are pushing it forward in Z space. Now as we click-and-drag, we can see the camera rotating around the solar system with a constant view of the sun.
However, if we look at our current animation around 1 second, we can see that as the camera flies around the outside, the sun turns into a paper thin layer. Remember, these are just flat cards sitting in 3D space. As we come around to the side of the sun, it reveals the depth of that layer. In order to correct this, we can select those layers and change their Orientation. I will do this for just the sun, but we could do this for all of the planets in our composition. So with the sun movie selected, let's go up to Layer and change the Transformation for this layer and turn on it's Auto-Orientation. By default, layers have no Auto-Orientation turned on, but we can change this, so that it always looks at the camera by selecting Orient Towards Camera.
Now no matter where the camera is, this layer will always face it. If we navigate out to 5 seconds and type N on the keyboard to create a short work area, we can use the number 0 on the number pad to create a quick ramp preview and see the difference between this Auto-Orientated layer and those other 3D layers which can't be Auto-Oriented but haven't yet. Now ramp preview.