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Animating Cameras

We won’t talk much here about standard “object” animation – as with lamps, you can use F-curves to control a camera location and rotation, but also constraints, like the ever-useful Track To one.

By the way, about tracking with a camera: unlike e.g. with lamps, when you track your main subject with your camera, you seldom want to center it in the view! To avoid this, there are often used as camera target an empty, that then parent to main point of interest. This way, by animating the position of the empty, you can easily control where in the view is your object, and still have the camera following it when it moves, without any additional effort.

“Camera” animation regroups mainly its “lens” properties, so you can use it to control its focal, the depth of fields etc.

As of Blender from 2.5 version, Everything is animatable. And about keyframing and actions see more here.

Example

As an example, we are going to create a nice and impressive camera effect, which you can see e.g. in the first part of the Lord of the Ring: the transtrav. Basically, the idea is to combine a forward zoom with a backward traveling (or conversely), both controlled such as the point of interest keeps its scale in the image, while its environment scales up or down, depending whether it is nearer or more far from the camera…

Create a scene with a ground, and some objects laying on it.

Add a camera, place it as you like for the beginning of the transtrav (your “key” object should be more or less at the center of the picture, it’s easier to handle!). As we are going to do a “forward” transtrav, you should use a quite long lens at start. Go to frame 10, and insert a keyframe for both the location (and optionally the rotation) of the camera and its focal length.

Now, go to frame 140, and move forward your camera to your key object. Insert another keyframe for its position, and adjust its focal length until your key object have the same visual dimensions as at the beginning. Add a key to both attributes.

This won’t give you a fully perfect transtrav – to get such one, you would have to dive into trigonometric maths… But the result is visually quite satisfying.