3 Replies Latest reply on May 9, 2009 12:40 PM by Rick Gerard

    Trying to achieve smooth camera-animation

    Andy Bay Level 2

      Hi guys!


      This question has been showing up in my AE-projects for ages and I'm still not sure what is the right way to do it:


      I'm trying to make as smooth camera movement as possible. I know where I want the camera to start from and I know where I want it to end. For these points I set keyframes. But the problem is the middle part: I usually want the camera to do some controlled movement in the middle section too, so I need to put a few keyframes between the first and last keyframes. But it usually doesn't look good: the change in the camera movement will not be smooth at all but very noticeable. I have tried to make the keyframes bezier, but that usually makes the camera slow down almost to zero in the middle keyframe. I have also tried to make the middle KF's roving, but there was still a displeasing change in the camera movement.


      So after that long story, my question is pretty simple: How do you professionals keep the camera moving smoothly at all times? How can I add keyframes in the middle of a camera-animation and still have it maintain constant smooth motion?


      Any help on this will most certainly be appreciated! Thank you!



      One piece of information that might be important is that I create the keyframes by using the AE-camera tools (orbit camera, track xy ect), and because of that I have the stopwatches for both POI and position turned on.

        • 1. Re: Trying to achieve smooth camera-animation
          Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

          If you operate the the AE camera in the same way you would operate a real camera you get better results. For example, if you were on a set and you wanted to do a camera move, the simplest move would be to put the camera on a tripod and just tilt and pan. Throwing in a zoom makes the shot more difficult.


          If you want to actually move the camera you put it on a dolly. The easiest dolly shots are ones that only move in a straight line. Add curved track and a tilt or pan with the camera and you end up with a more complex shot in real life and in AE so it takes more tries to get it right. Boom up or down Dolly or truck in, pan and zoom and you've created an extremely difficult shot. A story from real life here goes here.


          I was shooting a 7 second closing shot to a Coke ad a bunch of years ago from a Tulip Crane. The shot started high and to the right of the spokesmodel. The director wanted us to boom down while the crane moved moved right to left on the track and the boom moved right to left as I panned the camera to center up the talent and zoomed in. We went through 2000 feet of 35mm film trying to pull off this shot where everything was moving, the dolly, the boom arm, both wheels on the Worrall head were turning, and the AC was pulling focus and running the zoom. The director was never convinced that we got the camera move and the performance he wanted in a single shot. The point is, the more complicated you make the shot, the harder it is to pull off.


          A director that I worked with a lot always said "Move the actors but not the camera or the move the camera and not the actors. Try to move both and we'll be here all day."


          The easiest way to move the camera in a complex path is to do one of the following:

          • turn off auto orientation OR
          • orient the camera to a path OR
          • Attach the point of interest to a null (parent) then animate the null OR
          • parent the camera to a null and animate the null OR
          • move the camera (keyframe camera position) and control rotation with a parented null OR
          • move the camera to first position, then parent the camera to null 1, then move the camera by moving null 1 to position 2, then parent null 1 to null 2 and move the camera to position 3 by moving null 2.

          The last option is kind of tricky to visualize but easy to do once you get the hang of it. The important thing is to do as little as possible and to think of nulls as dolly grips.


          I hope this helps. Post a link to your problematic project and I'll give you my solution to your problem.

          • 2. Re: Trying to achieve smooth camera-animation
            Andy Bay Level 2

            Thank you so much for your great, in-depth reply! Especially the last tip with the nulls sounds VERY interesting and I will most certainly take a note of that! Thank you also for offering to take a look at my project! I think I will have a go on it myself with this new information, but I really appreciate your kindness. If I run into a problem even with these new great tips, I might send you the project (though it's quite massive with illustrator and PS files included)! Thank you!

            • 3. Re: Trying to achieve smooth camera-animation
              Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

              I don't need footage to check out the camera move.