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After Effects - Animated Infographic Video & Data Visualisation

How to create & animate a camera in After Effects

Daniel Walter Scott

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Hi there, in this tutorial we're going to look at cameras where things start moving around, and zooming in, we can make it look cool, I don't know. Cameras, let's go and look at how to do those.

The first thing we want to do is to add a camera. We do that under 'Layer', 'New', 'Camera'. By default it's probably set to a 2-Node camera, switch it to a 1-Node camera, it's just simpler. And make sure that the Field is turned off. Give it a name, well, just leave it as Camera1. Let's click 'OK'.

Now depending on where your camera ends up you might want to drag it to the top, it doesn't really matter. Just really common to drag your cameras to the top. Kind of battled it out for this Vignette. Now, you would have got an error message on yours, saying "Hey, you created a camera that none of the layers can be seen yet." Mine's been disabled. All that means is that the camera can't see any layers in my Comp until I turn these on. Watch this, I'm just dragging across these all. I'm going to say, I want all these on. The background layer needs to be unlocked, and turned on. I want to turn all these on, maybe not the Vignette. I don't want that seen by the camera. It can just stay around the edges there.

What that means is, let's look at our before, and after. So my camera here, I'm going to twirl it down. Now we're looking at this '1 view', you can see it down here. And that, most of the times is where you want to be. In this case we're going to go to '2 Views - Horizontal' to have a separate view, to actually see my camera, there he is there. It's my little camera pointing at my plain. So looking down on the top, and that's this. We're looking down at the razor edge of it, right there.

Now this view's not handy for me at the moment. I find the best view is, let's click on the side, you can see these blue dots in the corner, means I got this side selected. And it means that I can say 'Top'. I'm going to go to this 'Custom View 1'. It gives you a kind of a good look at it. I'm going to zoom in a little bit. So that's what's happening, right?

Now this camera over here, and he is pointing and shooting at this. You can see even my text off-screen. Watch this, my Play Head, watch him. Actually, there he is. He appears there, and disappears down. So this is what ends up getting exported but this is a handy view just to see what's going on. So what I want to do is I want to show you if I have these off, look what happens. Get rid of all of these, get rid of that. You can see, the camera can't see them unless this is on. So all on, save for the Vignette. And what we're going to do is, we're going to play it till it gets to about maybe—

I want that to appear on the regular screen. And then just before this second one appears, my wife, I'm going to get the camera to move. So let's get our Keyframe at about 706. Yours is going to be slightly different. And what we're going to do is, we're going to twirl down the camera, we're going to open up Transform. We're going to set the stopwatch going for Position. So we want it to stick there, and then just before this one opens, or maybe just when you start seeing the circle, I would like to change the position. The first one, is I'm going to zoom in. So, grabbing this last X, Y, and Z is the last one, Z is in and out. X and Y is left and right.

I'm going to zoom in quite a bit. And then, dragging these-- it's heaps easier to drag these two and then to use-- There's some camera tools up here, but when you're new, hear me. I use it lots but I prefer doing it this way. Everyone has their own style. So what's going to happen now is… Cool, so it's kind of in the middle there. And I come back a little bit, and maybe just holding 'Shift' to snap it to it. Maybe just down a little bit, so it's right in the center.

Couple of things I'm going to need to do. My computer's struggling a little bit, so I'm down at 'Quarter'. So at Low Res resolution, I'm going to turn off the sound because that slows things down as well. And, what did I just turn off? Didn't even right click. I'm going to turn these off. Here we go, so hopefully now it will render a bit quickly. Nice. It's going along, it's doing its thing, and then zooms in. The camera is a little bit on the crappy side in terms of—

We want to kind of grab these two guys and add some Easing. So I right click them, just like we did everything else. '75', '75'. Let's have a little look. It's got a nicer kind of motion to it. Goes on. So what we're going to do now is put in two little Keyframes every time we want to move it. So I'm going to scrub along. And I can only just see it, but you can see in this View here.

The other thing is-- you can see, this guy zooming in. It's when we do the Z position over time, so it's my little camera, I'm moving him. So when I get to just before this appears, I may be just a bit there. I'm going to set a Keyframe. So I'm going to set on manual Keyframe. Say between this one and this one, don't change. And then, a little bit longer. I'm going to, maybe a little bit earlier, I'm going to start messing with this. I'm not going to play with the Z any more. I'm going to play with just the X and the Y. And get all these guys to line up in the middle now, every time when your Icon appears. It's remembered the-- it's remembered the Easing from the last time I did it, which is quite cool. Here you go. Next one.

We're just going to do that as this thing builds, and keep doing it for the next one. It's a couple of things, we've done the Easing, the other one is Motion Blur. Motion Blur is on for the whole document because we did it in an earlier tutorial, but at the moment, only thing being accepted is this, we've only turned it on for the Text Layer, because remember, it slid down off the screen, we turned it on. I'm going to turn it on for the rest of these, why? Because let's have a little look. I find that before--

Great. So when it starts moving-- so it's moving, right? There's no Motion Blur. I'm going to keep it here. I'm going to turn it to full resolution so I can show you properly. So it's in super crystal clear but it's kind of moving quite fast. So what I want to do is actually turn the Motion Blur on, on all these layers. Watch it, I'm going to let it go. You see, it's blurring now. So it just means that when it's moving, it's getting all zoomy and blurry. So we'll do it to the Icons, and we even do it to the image in the background. Get down the bottom here, the image background. Turn it off for that one as well, watch.

So it's kind of blurry so when it's moving quite fast, it's hard to preview because my machine's running a little bit slow. Give it a second. Fans are on. Hopefully if you're down with the same problem it's not particularly complex animation, it's because I'm trying to do it all while doing screen capture recording. Here we go, kind of get it right, so it's moving and blurring. You get the point. So what I'm going to do now is just work my way around the document. Keeping an eye on this, and moving this around. So maybe we'll speed this up, and I'll see you at the end.

Let's jump back in quickly here, and you'll notice that I kind of-- so if I want to get this in the dead center, I might have to see it better than red. So if you don't want to do that, what you might have to do is either move the Icon down, or down here, for the background layer we're going to have to open up the Scale. So we're going to open 'Transform'. I'm going to go to 'Scale', and we're just going to make it a bit bigger, so that there's not as much edge to see. It does have some ramifications when I zoomed all the way out, I'm copying a bit off. You can see, in the edges here, but it means, when I zoom in, there's a bit more kind of like flaff around the outside, or Bleed. Bleed's probably a better word. So back to going fast.

So we're back, and probably for this last one, I'm just going to kind of get it here, instead of doing just over-- I'm actually going to zoom back out to what it was in the beginning. What was it in the beginning? I'm going to hover above this. And what's this Z? It's -2666. So I'm going back to here, just afterwards instead of just moving it, I'm going to type it out to this. And actually I want all of the settings there. So I'm going to actually just go and steal the Keyframe. It's a cool trick. If I want to be exactly where that is now, where it's Full view, and I can see everything, just actually copy it, and go over here. I'm going to delete this one, and just hit 'Paste'. You can paste Keyframes like that. Cool.

So, the last one. Nice. I'm just going to scrub through, it kind of moves around and picks up all the different Icons. You can see the path of the camera there. That moves around, and then zooms all the way on the last one, my finale.

All right, that is how to use a 1-Node camera. We've used it quite extensively, we've moved around quite a bit. You might just have a couple of other things, we just move it around a little bit. All right, let's get on to the next tutorial.