Cameras

In 3D mode, anything you see in the Canvas represents the viewpoint of a camera, either a default reference camera or a scene camera that you create. You can explicitly create cameras that can be used to look at your scene from different points of view. You can place, animate, and apply behaviors to cameras in your scene. Creating multiple cameras gives you the ability to make different cameras active at different times, allowing you to “cut to” different views over the course of the project.

Creating a Scene Camera

The scene cameras that you create are used for rendering output. Scene cameras appear in the Canvas as wireframe camera icons and as objects in the Layers tab and Timeline.

To add a scene camera to a Motion project
  • Choose Object > New Camera (or press Command-Option-C).

    A camera object is added to the Layers tab, the Timeline, and the Canvas (represented there by a wireframe icon). The 3D Transform tool in the Toolbar becomes active, the Camera HUD appears (if it isn’t visible, press F7), and the Camera tab in the Inspector becomes available.

Active Camera

If a scene contains more than one camera, the camera that is topmost in the Layers tab and in the Timeline at the current frame is the active camera. Although the active camera is the default camera used for export, you can select any scene camera to export.

Figure. Timeline showing three cameras overlapping on different tracks.

Note: The “active camera” is not the same as the “active view.” The active view is the last view you clicked in when working with multiple views. Only the active view, indicated by a yellow border, can contain onscreen controls.

Camera Controls

You can modify a scene camera’s properties via the Camera HUD or the Camera and Properties tabs in the Inspector.

Parameters in the Inspector
  • Angle of View: A slider and value slider that set the angle of view of the camera, which is the number of degrees in which the camera sees. Value can be selected from 0 to 180 degrees.

    Note: When you animate the Angle of View parameter on a Framing camera, the result is an opposing dolly effect. An opposing dolly zooms in the opposite direction that the camera moves. When you animate the Angle of View parameter on a Viewpoint camera, the result is a regular camera zoom.

    Figure. Canvas window showing a Framing camera changing the Angle of View.
  • Near Plane: A slider and value slider that set the distance at which the camera begins to see objects. Objects closer to the camera than this distance are not rendered from this camera’s point of view.
  • Far Plane: A slider and value slider that set the distance at which the camera ceases to see objects. Objects further from the camera than this distance are not rendered from this camera’s point of view.
  • Near Fade: A slider and value slider that set the softness factor for the near plane. The softness factor sets a boundary range over which near objects fade in.
  • Far Fade: A slider and value slider that set the softness factor for the far plane. The softness factor sets a boundary range over which far objects fade out.

    Note: Camera depth of field parameters are also contained in this window. For a complete description of these controls see Depth of Field.

HUD Controls

The Camera HUD contains the Camera Type, Angle of View, Focal Length, and DOF Blur Amount parameters, which are also available in the Inspector. The Camera HUD also contains 3D transform controls. For more information, see 3D Transform HUD Controls.

Scaling, Positioning, and Animating Cameras

Various controls allow you to scale, position, “walk,” and animate cameras. Once you have positioned cameras in a project, you can quickly select a single camera view using the Isolate command. For more information on using the Isolate command, see Isolate.

Scaling a Camera

You can use the Scale parameter in the Properties tab of the Inspector to scale what a camera sees. Changing the Scale value does not affect a camera’s Angle of View parameter. Changing the Scale value only affects Framing cameras.

About Camera Scaling

To better understand camera scaling, imagine if you shrank down to only a few inches tall. While the world around you hasn’t actually changed size, it would appear, to you, to be much larger. Similarly, if you grew to 50 feet tall, the world would seem smaller, even though it hasn’t changed. Scaling a camera up or down has the same effect

Positioning Cameras

Cameras share the same transform properties as any other object in Motion and can be positioned in all the same ways: by using the onscreen controls and by editing parameters in the HUD or Inspector. For more information on the onscreen controls, see 3D View Tools. Additionally, cameras can be positioned using the Walk Camera tool. For more information on the Walk Camera tool, see Walk Camera Tool.

Note: As a convenience, it is possible to move an orthogonal camera view to display the scene from a position and orientation other than its default.

Important: A camera cannot be nested in a 2D group. If you try to create or add a camera to a 2D group, the following dialog appears:

Figure. Camera Disabled warning dialog.

If you choose “Keep as 2D” the camera is automatically disabled.

Walk Camera Tool

The Walk Camera tool, located in the Toolbar, allows you to position the camera in 3D space as you would in a video game, using a keyboard-and-mouse navigation method.

You can also record the movement you create using the Walk Camera tool by creating keyframes. For more information on using the Record button and keyframing, see Using the Record Button.

Note: The Walk Camera tool is only available when Active Camera, Camera, or Perspective is selected from the Camera menu. For more information on the Camera menu, see Camera Menu.

Figure. Toolbar showing the Walk Camera tool.
To use the Walk Camera tool
  1. Select the Walk Camera tool in the Toolbar.

    The pointer changes to indicate that the Walk Camera tool is active.

    Figure. Walk Camera tool.
  2. Use the Up Arrow, Down Arrow, Right Arrow, and Left Arrow keys to move the camera in 3D space; hold down the Option key in conjunction with the arrow keys to move the camera more slowly.

    You can also drag in the Canvas to orient the camera.

Animating Cameras

Cameras can be animated directly in the Canvas by the same means used to animate any other object in a project. Cameras can also be animated through the use of behaviors, including special Camera behaviors. For more information on Camera behaviors, see Camera Behaviors.

For more information on animating with keyframes, see Keyframes and Curves.

Isolate

The Isolate command (and Isolate button) temporarily aligns the current view with the selected object and hides all other objects in the scene, facilitating access to distant or obscured objects.

Figure. Layers tab showing the Isolate button.
To isolate an object
  1. Select the object you wish to isolate in the Canvas, Layers tab, or Timeline.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Choose Object > Isolate (or press Control-I).

    • In the Layers tab or Timeline, click the Isolate button.

      The current view changes to align itself with the selected object, and all other objects in the scene are hidden.

      Figure. Canvas window showing an isolated object.

      When an object is isolated, a temporary camera is created and listed in the Camera menu. The camera shares its name with that of the isolated object.

To exit the isolated view
Do one of the following:
  • Choose Object > Isolate (or press Control-I).

  • In the Layers tab or Timeline, click the Isolate button.

  • Choose a different camera from the Camera menu.

Using Multiple Views with the Isolate Command

You can isolate as many objects as you have views. It is possible to edit an object in an isolated view while looking at the results through a scene camera in another view. Once an object is isolated in a view, you can activate another viewport and isolate a different object.

Drag and Drop onto the Canvas

Dragging and dropping an object onto the Canvas adds the object to the scene at the focal plane of the current camera. Dragging an object into the Layers tab or clicking the Apply button in the Preview Area of the File Browser positions the object at 0,0,0.

Using Cameras to Set Up Useful Working Views

When building a 3D project, it can be useful to position cameras to examine your project’s layout from different viewpoints. Rather than repeatedly moving the Perspective camera, you can add scene cameras to use as “spatial bookmarks.” You won’t want to use these cameras during export, so be sure to disable them before rendering.

Depth of Field

In the real world, cameras have a limited range of focus. Objects within that range appear sharp, and the further outside that range an object is, the blurrier it appears. This effect is used by camera operators to help limit which part of a scene the viewer pays attention to. Motion allows you to simulate that phenomenon, thereby increasing the sense of depth in a 3D scene.

Figure. Canvas showing examples of Depth of Field effect in use.

Every camera in Motion has a focus offset that determines the precise location of perfect focus. Stretching away from that point in either direction are near and far focus points, which determine the range of the depth of field.

Figure. Canvas showing a camera with Depth of Field range visible.

Note: Certain complex objects will not be affected by depth of field settings. These objects include local 3D text, paint, particles and replicators. The objects in these groups will likely be spread out along the z axis, but the camera cannot measure their relative depth and thus cannot accurately render depth of field. The entire object will be rendered with a constant level of blur.

Depth of Field Controls

Depth of Field settings are found in the Camera tab of the Inspector. By default, cameras view all objects in focus, regardless of their distance. The Depth of Field controls allow you to set a range of focus by changing the Near Focus and Far Focus parameters. Objects outside that range will be blurred. You can also modify the type and amount of blur used to render the out-of-focus effect.

  • DOF Blur Amount: A slider to control the maximum amount of blur applied to out-of-focus objects.
  • Focus Offset: A slider to set the distance from the camera that will be in perfect focus.
  • Near Focus: A slider to set the nearest point of focus, measured in pixels as an offset from the focal distance.
  • Far Focus: A slider to set the farthest point of focus, measured in pixels as an offset from the focal distance.
  • Infinite Focus: Selecting this checkbox sets the far focus to infinity, overriding whatever setting is chosen in the Far Focus slider.
  • Sides: When the Filter Shape pop-up menu is set to Polygon, this slider sets the number of sides in the polygon.

Rendering Depth of Field Effects

When depth of field is employed, playback performance may be significantly impacted. To alleviate this, you can disable the effects of depth of field settings while working on other aspects of your project.

To enable/disable depth of field effects
  • From the Render pop-up menu in the Toolbar, select Depth of Field (or press Option-Control-D).

    When a check mark is visible next to the menu item, the effects will be rendered. When no check mark is visible, all objects will remain in focus.

For information on overriding this setting during export, see Overriding Project Settings Selected in the Render Pop-Up Menu.

Camera Behaviors

While most types of behaviors in Motion can be applied to cameras, there is an additional set of special Camera behaviors specifically designed to be applied to a camera in a 3D project. These behaviors create basic camera moves such as dolly moves, panning, and zooming without keyframing.

To add a Camera behavior
  1. Select a scene camera in the Layers tab, Timeline, or Canvas.

  2. Click and hold the Add Behavior icon in the Toolbar, choose Camera from the pop-up menu, then choose an item from the submenu.

There are six camera-specific behaviors: Dolly, Focus, Framing, Sweep, Zoom In/Out, and Zoom Layer. These behaviors are applied directly to a camera object.

Dolly

Moves the camera a specified distance along the camera’s Z axis.

Parameters in the Inspector
  • Distance: A slider and value slider that set the distance of the dolly movement.
HUD Controls

The HUD contains the same controls as the Inspector.

Focus

Animates the camera’s Focus Offset parameter to focus on a target object. For more on camera focus settings, see Depth of Field.

Tip: This behavior can be used to perform a rack-focus effect during a scene.

Parameters in the Inspector
  • Target: An image well to specify the object upon which the camera will focus.
  • Transition: A slider to set how long it will take for the camera to reach the framing position, measured as a percentage of the behavior’s duration.
HUD Controls

The HUD contains the same controls as the Inspector.

Framing

Animates the camera along a path to position it directly in front of a selected object. You can control how the object fits into the frame at the ending position, and you can control the shape of the path to affect the amount of bend or curvature, as well as the apex of such a curved path. Other parameters allow you to customize the camera’s orientation along the path, the speed at which it travels, and at what point it begins orienting towards the target object.

The Framing behavior has onscreen controls to allow you to manipulate the path and ending position directly in the Canvas. For more information on using the Framing behavior’s onscreen controls, see Framing Behavior Onscreen Controls.

Tip: Multiple framing behaviors can be arranged consecutively to move a camera from one object to another over the course of a scene.

Warning: Applying a Framing behavior before or after a Basic Motion behavior, such as Motion Path or Throw, can create unexpected results. These behaviors can continue to affect the object even after the behavior ends. For example, If a Framing behavior was applied after a Motion Path, the residual effect of the Motion Path would be combined with the path generated by the Framing behavior, resulting in the target object being framed improperly. For more about Basic Motion behaviors, see Basic Motion Behaviors.

Parameters in the Inspector
  • Target: An image well to specify the object upon which the camera will be framed.
  • Framing Offset: Three sliders (X, Y, and when expanded, Z) to offset (in pixels) which point on the target should be centered, relative to the camera. This allows you to target a point other than the center of the object. The Z slider moves the camera nearer or farther away from the target.
  • Offset Path Apex: A slider to set the position along the path (from the original position to the framing position) where the bend (if any) will occur if the user chooses to offset the path. It is expressed as a value between 0 and 1, 0 being at the start of the path, 1 at the end, and 0.5 being halfway along the path.
  • Path Offset: Three sliders (X, Y, and when expanded, Z) to offset the camera’s position from the path, measured in pixels.
  • Position Transition Time: A slider to set how long it will take the camera to reach the framing position, measured as a percentage of the behavior’s duration.
  • Rotation Transition Time: A slider to set how long it will take the camera to reach the framing orientation, measured as a percentage of the behavior’s duration.
  • Ease Out Time: A slider to set the percentage of the behavior’s duration at which the ease out starts. The ease out will ramp down the behavior’s effect until the end of the behavior.
  • Ease Out Curve: A slider that sets the rate of the ease out.
HUD Controls

The HUD contains a subset of the controls in the Inspector.

Framing Behavior Onscreen Controls

The Framing behavior has onscreen controls that allow you to directly manipulate the behavior settings in the Canvas.

Figure. Canvas showing onscreen controls for Camera Framing behavior.

When a Framing behavior is applied and selected, The controls in the Canvas allow you to create a custom framing size and shape, as well as visually adjust the Framing Offset and the Offset Path Apex.

To create a custom framing size and shape
  • With the Framing behavior selected in the Layers tab or the Timeline, click any corner of the white frame control in the Canvas.

To adjust the Offset Path Apex
  • With the Framing behavior selected in the Layers tab or the Timeline, drag the small white box along the diagonal white line to reposition the apex.

To adjust the Framing Offset
  • With the Framing behavior selected in the Layers tab or the Timeline, drag the 3D control or any of the three colored arrows.

Sweep

Pivots the camera across a specified arc.

Parameters in the Inspector
  • Start: A dial and value slider that set the camera’s starting angle relative to its current orientation. A nonzero value causes the camera to jump to this value at the start of the behavior.
  • End: A dial and value slider that set the camera’s final angle relative to its Start parameter value.
HUD Controls

The HUD contains the same controls as the Inspector.

Zoom In/Out

Animates the camera’s Angle of View parameter.

Parameters in the Inspector
  • Zoom: A slider and value slider that set a proportional value used to modify the camera’s Angle of View parameter. For more information about the Angle of View parameter, see Camera Controls.
HUD Controls

The HUD contains the same controls as the Inspector.

Zoom Layer

Moves a camera to the position of a target object’s anchor point. Once the camera reaches the object’s anchor point, the angle of view changes while offsetting the camera’s position based on the Zoom parameter. (This parameter is set to 0 by default so no animation of the Angle of View will occur.)

This behavior also allows you to animate the camera’s Angle of View during the camera’s movement, based on the behavior’s Transition value. For more information about the Angle of View parameter, see Camera Controls.

Parameters in the Inspector
  • Object: An image well to set the target of the camera’s movement. Drag an object from the Layers tab into the well.
  • Transition: A slider and value slider that determine how far into the behavior the camera stops moving and the camera’s Angle of View parameter begins to animate instead.

    If Transition is set to 50% in a Zoom Layer behavior that has a length of 300 frames, the camera move takes 150 frames to arrive at the position of the target object and then stops moving for the duration of the behavior, and the camera’s Angle of View parameter animates over the rest of the duration. If Transition is set to 100%, the camera move takes the full 300 frames to arrive at the position of the target object, and the camera’s angle of view does not animate. If the Zoom Layer behavior’s duration is 100 frames, and Transition is set to 50%, the camera move takes 50 frames to arrive at the position of the target object.

  • Zoom: A slider and value slider that set a proportional value used to modify the camera’s Angle of View parameter. A nonzero value determines how much the angle of view (and thus perspective) changes relative to the camera’s initial angle of view. A zero value for Zoom leaves the Angle of View parameter unchanged.
HUD Controls

The HUD contains the same controls as the Inspector.