Minimize effort and maximize impact. It’s what we’re all aiming for isn’t it? We all want to expend as little effort as we can and get as much for it as possible. There is something satisfying about optimizing your time. As the old saying goes, time is money.
Rendering is a great way to get more from your models. With PhotoView 360, I always pushed for people to just create static images. With Visualize becoming available, I’ve changed my tune. With the speed and consistency that Visualize provides, I think a rendered video with simple camera motion has the most “bang for your buck.” It has all the signs of making you an all-star when it comes to minimizing effort and maximizing impact.
To me, it’s a no-brainer. That being said, not everyone thinks like a videographer. So to that end, I’ve created these resources for you. In our last session, we talked about how a camera works and in this session we’ll cover some common video moves that you can re-create in your digital world. In this article I hope to give you some concepts you can use to simply add life to your renderings using Visualize Professional.
If you just can’t wait for the next session (or want to see it in action), go ahead and watch my webinar which covers this topic below:
Last time, we discussed what controls we have on a camera and what they impact. We boiled it down to the fact that we can accomplish most of our goals with cameras by simply adjusting the camera’s Aperture, Focal Length, and physical location. Now we’re going to use those controls to do something interesting! Before we get there, I have 3 overarching goals whenever I am rendering videos.
- Try to mimic real film moves
- Try to make it feel “hand done”
- Subtle moves go a long way
We’ll look a 5 different film shots you can recreate in this session, but my goal is always to make things feel as smooth and organic as possible. If you’re following along in Visualize Pro, you will also want to have your timeline turned on (Ctrl+L). In this session, we’ll be creating keys for cameras only. For each keyframe, you may right click the camera in the list of cameras on the Camera Tab and choose “add keyframe”, OR with the camera selected you wish to store, hit Ctrl+Shift+K.
Alright, here are the techniques we will be looking at today:
- Pull Focus
- Pan Shot
- Dolly Shot
- Jib Shot
- Stabilizer Shot
The pull focus (also known as rack focus) is one of the most common shots you’ll see in TV shows and movies. Once you know what’s going on, you’ll see this technique used somewhere in everything you watch. Fortunately for us, it’s much easier to create in a rendering than it is in real life (take that Hollywood)! This technique uses a low Aperture setting and simply just moves focus points from one point to another. Ideally you would choose two points that are at different depths in the image.
- From the Camera Tab, check on “Enable Depth of Field”
- Choose your Focal Distance (what distance you’re focusing on). I set this by selecting the “eye” icon and simply clicking on what I want to be in focus on my model in the graphics area.
- Choose your Aperture setting. Aperture and F Stop will move together as they are just the inverse of each other. I adjust the F Stop value because that makes the most sense to me. Remember that the larger the F Stop value is, the more of the image will be in focus. Smaller values will create a quicker falloff outside of your focal distance.
- Keyframe the Focal Distance. Create a keyframe with the playhead at time 0, move your playhead to the time you want the pull to end, choose a new Focal Distance, and create another frame.
The pan shot is another very common shot. Technically, I believe a panning shot is where the camera remains stationary and just turns back and forth. However, I have seen the term come to refer to a motion of the camera ACROSS the object.
- Set the camera at desired location 1. These settings include physical location, Depth of Field and Focal Length.
- Keyframe location 1 and move the playhead to where you’d like the motion to stop.
- Move the camera’s physical location only to location 2. Just slide the camera slightly to the left or right. (My preference is to do this using my mouse and keyboard controls rather than the XYZ position.) Don’t change the state of Depth of Field or Focal Lengthunless you’re adding a focus pull to the shot. A camera doesn’t change Focal Length or Aperture settings mid shot.
- Keyframe location 2.
The dolly shot works just like the pan shot. The only difference here is that we are moving IN or OUT of the object. The goal, however, is exactly the same.
We want to create a smooth motion between two keys that slides the camera with respect to the object. I find the most accurate way to do this by moving the camera with the Distance/Dolly control from the Camera Tab. A tip here is that dragging over the numerical value gives finer control than dragging the slider itself. Keyframe this in the same way as the pan and you’re off and running with the dolly shot!
Ah, the jib shot. This is a neat one because this is not something you could often create in real life yourself. A jib shot requires getting up and over your object. A jib is essentially a crane for your camera and they come in varying sizes. Unless you have a small product, it is often hard to get your camera smoothly up and over it even if you do have a prototype to film.
Once again, this is a simple procedure. Just like the pan and dolly, we use two keyframes. The first keyframe will be looking somewhat straight on to the model in whichever direction you prefer. The second position is just up and over the model slightly. This can be done by using mouse/keyboard controls as always or try either the Latitude adjustment or the Height from Floor.
The stabilizer shot is the most difficult out of the bunch. Not because the techniques are any different, but because it is more difficult to get smooth and realistic looking motion. However, Visualize Pro has a trick up its sleeve here which will make our lives easier. This type of shot is the kind you see in action films. It’s also used much more subtly elsewhere. This is the type of shot that you wonder, “how did they get the camera there and floating along this path?” Well the answer is, they have somebody or something carrying the camera on an electronic gimbal which stabilizes and isolates the camera from bumps and quick changes in any direction.
Choose multiple positions for your camera and key frame them as you go. This could be a “walk around” style animation or a “flyby” or something of that nature. The problem that you’ll run into in any animating software such as this is that the camera seems painfully aware of where its keyframes are. By this I mean, you will see in the camera motion that it is not smooth as it transitions from one key frame to the next. You will see this effect even if you have your default key transition set to smooth, though, to a lesser degree. This is where Visualize has a trick for us. If we view our animation in preview mode from a different camera than the one we are animating (I always create a spare camera named “Free Cam”), we can see the path our camera is following. Even better we can watch its speed as it travels along this path. Each one of those blocks represents the keyframes which can be manipulated easily to smooth the motion of the camera. The ribbon will update with any camera position, focal point or keyframe tension settings so you can dial in the smoothest path in no time!
As the ribbons start to stack up, these can get in the way of each other. Fortunately, we can control their visibility per animation, or as a whole using the ribbon controls in the timeline.
That’s it! You can use a combination of those 5 shots on a wide variety of different clips. I hope this article can serve as a reference for you as you give animation a try in Visualize Professional! I think it is a blast and I’m willing to bet you’ll see a little bit of effort go a long way!
Until next time, happy rendering!