Learn how to use the Camera Tools in this After Effects CS3 Advanced training video series.
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Next, let's take a look at the Camera Tools. They are new tools that will only be active once we have 3D enabled and if we are looking through one of these Orthographic views. We can take advantage of these without moving our layer around.
Up here in the toolbar, right next to the Rotation Tool, you can see the Camera Tools. Now, by default, it may be set to Orbit Camera Tool or it maybe any of the other ones in the list. By clicking and holding the icon, we can see all of these which include the tools for orbiting the camera, tracking XY and tracking the Z. Orbiting the camera will allow us to rotate the camera. Now, because we don't have a camera in our scene, we are going to be controlling the virtual camera. We can also control the camera in these views by using track X-Y and track Z. Track X-Y will move it along the X and the Y coordinates whereas track Z is going to move it in and out along the Z-axis. Each of these Camera Tools works very differently than the Selection Tool for moving the layer around.
If we have the Orbit Camera Tool selected and you can note that the shortcut for this is C. Then typing C again will toggle through the different tools in our Camera Tool. Let's start with the Orbit Camera Tool. Now if we click-and-drag in our Top view with this tool selected, you may get an error message or an error sound when you try. This is because there is no rotation value in the Orthographic view. However, we can use the XY Camera Tool or even the Z Camera Tool by typing C on the keyboard. We will change our Camera Tool to XY. Now, as we click-and-drag, we are moving the camera that we are looking through. We are not changing the values for any of the layer in our composition, we are merely changing the way we are looking at those layers.
Now, the same is going to be true for all of the other Orthographic views. We'll use C on the keyboard again to change to the Z Camera Tool. Now, by clicking and dragging up, we will zoom in closer to our scene and if we click-and-drag down, we will zoom out moving the camera further from the center of our composition. Now, you may be tempted to hold down the Spacebar in order to use the Hand Tool. Remember, this isn't going to change what you are looking at in your composition. This is simply going to help you navigate around your composition windows. So if I hold down this Spacebar, then click-and-drag you can see that I am moving the view around inside the Composition panel.
We will simply use the Alt+Forward Slash (/) or the Option+Forward Slash (/) on the Mac in order to get this back inside the center of our Composition panel rather than using one of the flat Orthographic views. If we switch now to Custom view. Then still using our Z Camera Tool, you can click-and-drag zooming closer to the center of our composition. Here, we can definitely see the adaptive resolution taking over as soon as I interact with the composition.
If I change the tool by typing C on the keyboard, we can see the cursor change indicating that we are now using the Orbit Camera Tool. If we click-and-drag now, we can orbit around the scene at the center of our composition. Again, we have no custom cameras setup and we are not looking at any guidelines, we simply have some 3D layers setup to show the different axis in our scene. So without a camera in our scene, all three of these tools are going to help us navigate around our different camera views.