Articles

Cameras (Adobe Character Animator Tutorial)

November 7, 2019


Cameras are one of those elements that
you don’t really realize you’re missing it until you see a scene that doesn’t
have a camera set up so here’s a recording that did of these two
characters Lyndon and robot singing a song but it’s just staying on one shot
and after a few seconds this kind of gets boring in it for you know the world
of online video you’re making an animated cartoon and it’s stayin in one
shot for 30 seconds people are gonna click away really fast
so compare that to this instead where we start with a wide shot and we
immediately switch to a closer up shot we can see a little bit more details of
the characters there we now move back to a wider shot now we’ll move to a more
focused shot of just a Lyndon character and they made me pan over to show the
robot playing the keyboard there and then a zoomed out shot to get back to
kind of the full scene and they may just end with zooming back in so that’s the
same 30 seconds of animation but this second one is much more compelling
because it changes the camera it’s the same animation happening you know
beneath everything but the camera changes are what make it visually
interesting and diverse and keeps the viewers attention throughout the whole
animated piece now up until this point character animator has not had a
dedicated camera system built into the app and so for any camera changes like
we just saw you would probably want to do that stuff in After Effects or try to
hack some sort of transform behavior camera system it never really worked as
well as you wanted it to but now you’ll notice down here in the timeline I do
have something called camera one and I see that I can keyframe this camera to
have all these different changes whether it’s holding a shot or zooming or
panning or whatever it’s doing giving me full control precise frame by frame
control over a dedicated camera system it’s really easy to add a camera all you
have to do is go up to scene new scene camera and that’s all it takes and it
will add a camera into your timeline but what makes cameras even better in
character animator is that there’s also the live aspect of character animator
and you can actually trigger cameras just liking the trigger audio and layers
and animations and all that stuff so you’ll notice here with my camera I have
a trigger bull shots a swap set and so one is a wide shot – if I press the two
key I’m now to a close-up three is gonna be more focused on Lyndon four is gonna
be more focused on the robot five is gonna do a zoom in is slow about two
seconds oom into the character six is going to zoom slowly it back and then
seven is going to do a pan now all of these are on-demand triggers that I have
either for recorded stuff or most likely for live performances so as when I press
these Keys I’m gonna do them you know in any order I want on-demand at any time
so that’s where we’re gonna cover in this tutorial we’re gonna start out with
how to set up a camera track for a recorded piece so how to set up these
different hold shots and pans and zooms and all of that then we’re gonna move
into the trigger system over here and how to set up these different triggers
that I compress to do zooms in and out and pans and close-ups and wide shots
and all of that and then finally I’ll just add a few extra tips and tricks for
making your camera system a little more compelling and that includes you’ll
notice if you looked really closely that I also had some stuff in the background
and foreground keyframes so as I’m moving you know between these different
views I kind of get a small sense of parallax from the trees moving and the
background moving it’s subtle but it’s a small detail and we’ll cover that at the
end as well to follow along please download the project that’s in the video
description below it’s called Lyndon and robot is on the official adobe character
animator examples page and we’ll walk through the steps using this this
project so just open it up and you should see exactly what I’m seeing here
by the way you’re free to use these characters and scene however you want so
if you want to take this background out or just use the robot for one of your
projects you can totally do that as well okay to start out I’m gonna double-click
on scene testing empty timeline and that’s just gonna give me a basic scene
that just has Lyndon and the robot in the street now if I wanted to record one
of these characters I would just select it and now I’m controlling Lyndon or
robot now I’m controlling him or if I select both of them at the same time now
I’m controlling both of them simultaneously but instead what I want
to do is add a camera so I’m gonna disarm both of these guys and I’m going
to go as I showed earlier to scene new scene
camera okay so that is going to create a new camera track in my timeline and just
like when I select a character in my timeline and I see you know the the
behaviors and everything show up here on the right when I select a camera I see
the camera property is showing up here on the right so let’s walk through these
and see what they all do mouse and touch input if I do a red dot here if I click
it to Arman then I’m gonna be able to click with my mouse or fingers if you’re
on a touch enabled device like a surface or something like that and drag the
scene around I can also use the scroll wheel to zoom in and out as well so this
is a really nice way to you know very quickly create shots and if you’re
recording kind of a fast and dirty process I think this works really well
so I could set this shot click record and it’s gonna do the countdown and okay
that’s a good shot to start off with maybe I want to record it though zooming
out a little bit so I’ll use the scroll wheel I’ll zoom something like that
click and drag a little bit and that looks pretty good and stop recording and
now I have a recorded sequence let’s get rid of that audio track and it just go
through this and you can see whatever I did right there is recorded directly
under that is a smoothing parameter by default this is set to 15 but let’s bump
this up to a hundred just just show what it does so now as I’m clicking and
dragging there’s a little bit of a delay there’s a little bit of a smoothness
that’s happening with the zooming and the panning so it’s not as one-to-one as
you you know as you immediately do it it’s gonna be you know immediately
responsive there’s a little bit of a delay just to add a little bit of
smoothness which typically is gonna look a little better in this sort of stuff
it’s not gonna be as jittery as you know as you saw me doing before so typically
if I’m gonna be doing this I’ll probably fool around with the smoothness a little
bit but for me most of the time I haven’t been using mouse and touch input
that much um it is a nice feature to have and you can totally use it if you
feel comfortable with that and you want to record performances like that but for
now I primarily focus on these three right here position
x position Y and zoom rotation is great but rotation doesn’t show up in camera
shots as much as some other stuff if you’re doing like a shakey cam or
something like that that would be okay or Dutch angle or you know certain
techniques but for a lot of my shots I’m just doing
right on and position XY and zoom that’s all I mean all right so I’m gonna delete
that recording that I just did and instead focus on keyframing on some of
these parameters so I’ve got position XY and zoom so let’s say this wide shot is
how I want to start I want to be a nice establishing shot and just show
everything in all its glory so let’s say I’m gonna start all the way here at 0
and next to position X I’ll click this stopwatch icon position Y and zoom all
of these and normally when I’m setting my keyframes I’m gonna click all three
of these because I never know if I want to you know make subtle changes here and
there most likely I’m gonna be changing all three of these with each shot but
you know your mileage may vary so if i zoom in here I’ll see that I’ve got my
three keyframes right here and normally if I’m just doing jump cuts so if I’m
just going from one shot to the next the easiest way to do that is to turn these
into hold keyframes and that just means it’s going to hold in one position until
it sees another keyframe and to do that I’m going to select all of these drag
and select all three of these right-click them and go to toggle hold
key frame and the keyframe symbol is going to change here to show a little
hold icon and so now when I go to let’s say 2 seconds and I want to change this
it’s really easy I can say let’s say I want to do a close-up now so I’ll just
click and drag to make my zoom a little closer
let’s move position Y something like that and position X over like that all
right so if I play this back it’s gonna start with the wide shot and then when
it hits that second set of hold keyframes it’s gonna immediately jump to
that that close-up shot honestly what I’m just showed you right here is what’s
gonna work for most of your shots this is a really basic camera setup and a lot
of times with cartoons it’s just wide medium close and that’s a lot of the
shots that they’re doing so just do that so let’s say I want to change to a
medium shot now I go to four seconds I’m gonna you know make it zoom out a little
bit maybe I changed position Y and X and something like that that looks pretty
good now I’ve got a new set of keyframes and so as I you know play it back again
it’s gonna change from one shot to the next like that but sometimes you’re
going to want to do pans and zooms and other things
that’s so let’s start with a simple zoom let me copy my keyframes from the
beginning here so I’m just gonna marquee select them there and press command C on
Mac ctrl C on Windows and then at about 6 seconds I’m gonna press command V to
paste those keyframes into place now I don’t want these to be hold keyframes
instead I want these to be on just regular keyframes and then I want them
to ease most likely so with these keyframes selected I’m going to
right-click them and go to ease all right so I’ve got my new set of 3
keyframes here and let’s say over the course of 2 seconds I wanted to do a
slow zoom in so what would I do I would just go up to zoom here click and
something like that and drag and the position X just move everything to
exactly what I want and as I change these values it’s gonna automatically
add the keyframes down here and so now character animator is gonna put those in
between steps and so the zoom is going to be something like that and then let’s
say I wanted to do a pan so let’s do something like this where I’m adding
some keyframes here let’s make the previous ones held keyframes because I
kind of want to hold this shot until I get to what I’m going to be doing with
panning so let’s zoom in a little closer let’s move over to the left a little bit
something like that and then go down the timeline a couple of seconds and then it
just move position X wrong way this way and maybe I think position Y can stay in
oome can stay that’s ok ok so now what’s gonna happen is after that last soon
it’s gonna move to a pan shot like that so the way the timeline looks down here
is pretty typical of what I think a character animator camera system is
going to look like you were going to be key framing you know you’re different XY
and zooms and you’re going to be doing hold keyframes if you’re just doing it
jump quick jump cuts from one medium or wide or close-up shot to the next or
you’re gonna be doing East keyframes if you’re moving between you know a zoom or
a pan or something like that and you can mix the two together as much as you want
you could add rotation and you could do all sorts of crazy stuff rotation by the
way is also keyframe a ball so that’s another parameter if I wanted you know
things to flip around and turn upside down I could do that and then that’s
going to happen over you know the course of time as well so my advice would be at
a bare minimum do something like this I have hold keyframes for my wide shot
for five seconds and then moves to a close-up shot and as long as you have
two characters talking or one character talking or whatever and this is their
scene something like this could work pretty well where I just select all of
these and copy them command C on Mac controls T on Windows and then paste and
paste and kind of go every five seconds doing a camera change now obviously
depending on the scene and what’s being said camera changes might make more
sense at one time or another when the dialogue begins or ends or when a
certain character is reacting to something so um you know you can kind of
finesse this and fool around with it but at the very least you know set up some
basic camera changes and then copy and paste them throughout and then you can
kind of move these keyframes around if you say I want this to happen a little
bit earlier or this shot to be a little later or something like that and that is
a good first setup for creating the camera system of where you’re seeing
alright so now that we’ve covered how to add keyframe shots in the timeline let’s
move over to adding that triggered shots instead so I’m gonna get rid of all my
existing keyframes just by clicking the stopwatch icons over here and that’s
going to give me a blank timeline yet again so really easy to create a trigger
ball shot all you have to do is click this little button at the bottom and
whatever values are showing up here is what’s going to be put into that shot so
right now I’ve got my basic wide shot with just all these default settings
that’s actually a pretty good shot to start with so I’m just gonna click
create trigger ball shot and that’s gonna do a couple of things it’s gonna
create a replay of that shot down here now nothing is gonna change when I press
play because I’m already in this position and then over here I’m going to
get a auto created swap set remember a swap set is only gonna show one trigger
at a time and for camera shots that’s what you want you don’t want shots
competing with each other and you know trying to show two or three at the same
time you only want one at a time so it’s gonna automatically create this folder
called trickable shots this swap set I should say called trickable shots and
put your first shot in most of the time when I’m creating shots
I want to rename them to something to make sense so I’m gonna select it press
ENTER and let’s just call this wide and let’s just set that to the one key for
now okay so we’re starting with that now let’s move into more of a close-up shot
so I’m just gonna go to zoom here let’s zoom in a little bit I think I’m also
going to move the position and X just a little bit to get that exactly where I
want it and that is looking pretty good okay so now with this new shot I’m going
to click create writable shot and that is going to do the exact same thing add
a second shot down here and the replays and then add a new shot over here in my
swap set so let’s again press Enter let’s call this close-up and we will set
this to two and press Enter okay so now I have a really basic camera setup this
is as bare-bones simple as they can get right so when I press one I’m going to
go back to the wide shot and now when I press two I’m going to go to the
close-up and I can do this as many times as I want now if you prefer this is
where you can also use the mouse and touch input so if I arm mouse and touch
input let’s say I want to do a close-up shot of Lyndon I’m going to move it over
here something like this and that’s all you have to do and then you click create
writable shot and it’s gonna add a new shot there let’s do the same thing I’m
gonna for the robot I’m gonna zoom in a little bit here with him create writable
shot and just like that I’ve created two more replays and two more shots so I’m
gonna rename these as I want and there we go so now I have a four shot system
when I press one I’ve got the wide shot too is the close-up three is Lyndon and
four is the robot now two things to note here
number one the characters aren’t moving right now and that’s because they’re not
armed but if I wanted one character of both characters to be armed I could do
that and now when I press one two three four it’s doing all of them but notice
because I had the other characters armed those camera triggers if I press one for
example notice that’s changing the eyes of both of those characters as well in
two and three they’re all doing different things because these
characters also were using the same trigger keys so if you are going to have
a live camera setup like this and you’re going to be arming multiple care
the camera in a character or two what I would say is put your camera triggers on
separate keys then you are with the actual character so if using an external
MIDI device or something like that it’s totally fine don’t worry about this
because you have plenty of mini keys I might say I’m gonna reserve the 1
through 5 keys from my camera shots and then in Lindon and robot make their
triggers slightly different so it’s a little bit easier for me to come up with
a coherent system the second thing to note is there’s no easy way to tell what
shot I’m seen currently so I know this is the wide shot but if I’m pressing two
three four and then I press four again well now I got to this really strange
shot and I’m not sure how I got to this this is not one of my four main shots
and what happened if you see something like this where you see a shot you don’t
really quite understand why it’s there what’s happened most likely is that you
do not have an active trigger right now that all of these triggers have been
turned off so because I pressed 4 twice I was basically saying turn trigger four
on okay now turn it off and if there’s no trigger active it’s gonna default to
whatever is set here and wherever you are in the timeline so right now the
shot that I’m seeing is actually what these current values are set to so if I
get rid of all of these let’s change X these all back to where they normally
were and now that’s gonna kind of be my default so even if I press 4 twice now
it’s gonna go back to that wide shot so it’s basically just a sanity check if
you see something if you see a shot and you’re not sure why how it came to be or
it’s not part of your main shots it’s probably because you don’t have any
active triggers and that’s why you’re seeing whatever is set over here now the
panning and zooming that we showed earlier with keyframes you can turn
those into triggers as well so just like we showed a little bit ago let’s say I
wanted to do a quick zoom in so let’s keyframe position X Y and zoom move two
seconds over here and then change these slightly whereas zoom in a little bit
let’s select all of these and you can either right click and do ease or I like
to do function f9 is going to automatically turn them just like after
effects if you’re used to the After Effects way of doing things you can do
it this way as well and that’s going to change
Multi East keyframes and so let’s make sure this looks okay yeah that looks
pretty good and while we’re at it let’s do a zoom out as well now this would not
look good in a normal recording you would not want to immediately go from a
zoom into an out you’re gonna make the viewer throw up but I think for the
purposes of setting up triggers we want to make sure that we’re kind of starting
and ending in the same place and so by keeping some similar keyframes that’s
gonna help us a lot so I’m just gonna select these first ones copy them paste
them over here command C command V and now I’ve got the sequence where I start
zooming in and it zooms back out so now I’ve got these pieces that I can turn
into replays so let’s select the first two the zoom in here and right click
those and we’ll say I’m gonna actually do create replay and trigger from
keyframes you could create a take from them first and then add some blending
and stuff like that I feel like it’s just easier to do it this way so create
replay and trigger from keyframes that’s gonna add it here and over here and then
the same thing I’m gonna select the second and third set and right click
those so this is my zoom out now and creat replay and trigger from keyframes
same thing okay so now we’ve got these two things if I remember correctly I
think this one was the zoom in and this one was zoom out and we’ll add numbers
to these these were not latched by default so I’m gonna select both of them
and click latch and then I’m gonna drag them into the swap set here so they’re
part of my system okay so now when I press what is it the v key it’s gonna do
the zoom in and then when it press 6 it’s gonna zoom out and it’s gonna go
directly to that point now the nice thing is those 5 and 6 are gonna work
well together because I set the same keyframe that ends the zoom in is the
one that starts the zoom out so that’s gonna work seamlessly and then nicely
the they end with this one ends and the other one begins with the same settings
as the wide shot so you can kind of start you know and end in you know
similar places and make the system feel a little bit more more coherent if this
was slightly off and then I pressed one to go back to wide and it’s just a very
small change it’s gonna look a little unprofessional and amateurish when you
do camera changes tip want them to be a little bit bigger
right you want kind of more drastic changes if you make a small change like
this that’s that’s really not going you know that’s not gonna be enough that’s
gonna look kind of jittery and and not right so you can package together as few
or as many key frames as you want to create a trigger system so if you want a
long sequence of pans and zooms and close-ups and wide shots and whatever
you can take all of that so here I’ve just got some simple close-ups and wide
shots that I did for about 30 seconds I’m going to select them all right click
them say create replay and trigger from keyframes that’s gonna add it over here
for a longer sequence like this I probably want to do let replay finish so
it’s gonna kind of go through this whole sequence and let’s just set this to the
seven key latches fine and then when I press seven now notice the blue line
over here is very slowly creeping forward it says 35 seconds and it’s
going to play through that sequence where I’m a close-up now in a second I’m
going to move to a wide shot and back and forth until this gets through its
whole playback sequence all right so let’s finish showing how this all comes
together in the scene so now I’ve switched over to scene Lyndon and robot
double click on that and that’s gonna take you to this full recorded scene
with both these characters there’s no audio they’re not actually singing
anything I think I was just saying one two three in the background and moving
my head around while I was recording this but um you know there’s a few nice
details that are added here basically it the top level here is kind of covering
all the same principles that we just learned about but one interesting thing
is if I dig into City Street down here this is the background layer if I get
rid of this you’ll see it all goes away but in here I see I’ve got background
cloud tree all of that stuff so if I double click on City Street this is a
separate PSD file that I brought in and it just has a bunch of independent parts
the tree the street cloud one cloud two and background and so to the things that
I wanted to have a little bit more movement over to get a sense of parallax
or to have the clouds move across the sky all I did was select them and then
go down here to behaviors add a plus and go to transform so let’s take a close
look at the clouds for example so I selected you know cloud one here
and then down here I renamed it by clicking the little menu icon and went
to rename behavior and instead of this being just called transform I changed it
to something that actually made sense called cloud one and it makes sense to
do this because this is what’s going to show up in your timeline so you wanted
to be differentiated from everything else otherwise you’re gonna see
transform transform transform three or four times and you’re not gonna make
sense be able to make sense of you know what is happening so over here in the
timeline I can see I have a row called cloud one and all I did was make a
keyframe here at the beginning position X so I just click the stopwatch icon
said where I wanted to start and then at the end here let’s click this little
next keyframe thing to bring it to the end actually after the sequence and I
moved it all the way over to the left and so slowly as you’re playing through
this piece you’ll notice the clouds are slowly moving across the sky from left
to right and I could added you know a bunch of extra clouds if I wanted to as
many as I needed to but for here I just added two just to show a little bit of
background motion to make it a little bit more interesting I got eyes have
birds flying in the sky the Sun moving a car moving across the street whatever I
want so that’s kind of an addition to the camera system but it’s just
something you can add into your scene to give it a little extra life now the real
difference comes in the background so there’s these trees in the city skyline
and the blue sky and the tree so notice really closely if you look really
closely as I’m doing this zoom out the tree is moving at a slightly different
rate than everything else notice how right here it’s kind of you can see it’s
at the bottom of the fence the edges and then as I kind of zoom out it’s a little
bit above and it moves a little bit lower so it’s a subtle effect but
something like this gives the scene a little bit more dimension it feels like
that tree is a little bit more in the foreground these characters are in the
middle and then the background is also moving at the same rate so notice this
tree right here that’s by kind of this you know standing up hair and the back
of his head look how right now it’s starting there but when I go you know
down here it’s actually moved up a little bit and so you can think of it as
you move closer to something like you’re walking towards a mountain or something
like that and Matt seems to go up a little bit higher right
it looks like it’s getting bigger it’s it’s becoming you know a little bit
wider and and taller as you get close to it so when and I get this mixed up all
the time I’m like is this the right way or should it scale left or right or up
or down and then I try it and sometimes I’m completely wrong but this is a way
to kind of add a little bit of extra dimension to your to your scenes so if
you want to dig into the keyframes and see exactly how I did this you know the
tree basically I’m just moving a little bit more down into the left and scaling
up a little bit bigger so it feels like it’s moving a little bit faster out of
the way of the camera and then you know the background I said it kind of moves
up and scales up a little bit so check out what I did here but again for me
honestly it’s a trial and error process try things out see what looks good to
your eye and what doesn’t you know you’ll you’ll be able to figure
it out pretty quickly so that’s it that is a quick look e cameras I feel like
this is a really helpful tool for a lot of people a lot of the beginner videos
that we see they’re one shot it’s one talking head you know talking directly
to the camera and I think just adding a little bit of shot variety is
immediately gonna take your animations your cartoons to the next level so try
it out give it a shot and if you make anything cool with this we would love to
see it please use hashtag character animator when sharing on social media
Twitter Facebook YouTube all of that stuff that’s what the team looks at to
see all the cool stuff that you’re making and if you have any questions
about cameras if there’s things I didn’t cover here or you have some more
advanced ideas about how to kind of hack the system and make some really
complicated camera rigs and setups you can go to the official character
animator forums and share your ideas or ask your questions there so that’s it
for today thank you very much for watching and have fun

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