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Greenhorn Question: deciding wether to use the camera or scaling

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Tom Lener
Greenhorn Question: deciding wether to use the camera or scaling
on Mar 20, 2018 at 6:14:51 am
Last Edited By Tom Lener on Mar 20, 2018 at 6:51:53 am

Hello,

this is a very basic and for most of you irrelevantly question. However, since this community is the most experienced one I know, and I did not find relevant information on that topic elsewhere, here we go...

It's about a landscape scene (edit: build solely using vector layers). It starts with a close up of a seed circling down to the floor, then zooms out a little as the tree grows and after that zooms out more to show the whole scene with hills and the sky in the background.

I was wondering what would be more accurate: use the camera, and add 3D to all the objects. Or do it by scaling and positioning the objects.

Can someone please explain the up- and downsides of each method? Is there something like an "industry standard" for doing things like this, kind of a workflow (something like "at first create the whole scene, after that add the camera") to follow?

Thank you very much, your help for a "willing to learn" greenhorn is much appreciated.

Tom


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Steve Bentley
Re: Greenhorn Question: deciding wether to use the camera or scaling
on Mar 20, 2018 at 6:53:10 am

Quality wise you should not see a difference.
Math wise, scaling can be a nightmare. Scaling is logarithmic. Scale something twice as big, it increases by 4 times the area. So if you are trying to pull out of a shot, and if you use scale to simulate this, you will pull out faster and faster as you go even though your scaling factor is constant.
With a camera you have better control over that and the eye is used to what a camera looks like when it pulls out and the speed the camera and the widening landscape progress at.
Add to that, you can change the focal length if you want to change the feel of the move - pushing in with a telephoto lens looks very different than pushing in with a wide angle lens - there really is no way to cheat that using a scale function.

The downside of cameras is they are still a little clunky in AE vs a true 3D package.

Remember that you can look at your scene from another view point (top, side, even isometric - on an angle) and in these views you have to pan with the camera tool to bring objects inside the view port, and this doesn't affect your main camera's position. Objects outside the main viewport are just wirecages of themselves. You have to pan or zoom them inside the viewport, in a top view for instance, if you want to see the color pixels.

Use nulls to nest your main camera so you have better roll control and so you don't end up with gimbal lock.

The upside of cameras is that you can nail parallax shots. With 2D you are always guessing how fast something should move relative to something else. Plus you have built in depth of field.



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Tom Lener
Re: Greenhorn Question: deciding wether to use the camera or scaling
on Mar 20, 2018 at 7:12:59 am

Thank you Steve, especially for the tip using nulls. I will give the camera a try.

Tom


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Steve Bentley
Re: Greenhorn Question: deciding wether to use the camera or scaling
on Mar 20, 2018 at 7:26:06 am

Try also hitting the "separate x,y,z" button in the animation curve editor for your null and camera positioning. This will give you separate curve control over each direction of movement. More often than not you want to (for example) ease in the x direction while the Z direction continues on at an unchanging rate. This separate control lets get the exact move you are looking for.

This is another area where scale falls flat. Without writing an expression and linking the separate xyz scale attributes to other controllers (Iike a slider) the 3 scale attributes curves are locked together. So if you wanted to ease in the X scale and keep the Z scale going full tilt, you are out of luck in the curve editor alone.



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Tom Lener
Re: Greenhorn Question: deciding wether to use the camera or scaling
on Mar 20, 2018 at 7:34:06 am

Awesome, i can't wait to try this! Thanks a lot!


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Mark Whitney
Re: Greenhorn Question: deciding wether to use the camera or scaling
on Mar 20, 2018 at 4:39:38 pm

Saw your post last night but too beat to reply then. Figured you'd get some good advice overnight & you did.

Only other thing I might add is to try & have your source images somewhat larger than your comp size so you always stay below 100% on their resulting scale.

I've been on again - off again working on updating a 20+ year old documentary from 16mm to full HD and there are hundreds of stills where pans & zooms have to be cleaned up from having been done originally in camera, to having being badly done in older AE projects, yet the timing and head & tail composition needs to be maintained. One was a complex Right to Left then back to Right with a subtle tilt & zoom. I made myself a Rostrum Camera rig project to handle other shots like that. It essentailly does what Steve suggests, just breaks the controls out to be a bit easier to access. I can post it here later if you'd like to use or just pick it apart.


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Steve Bentley
Re: Greenhorn Question: deciding wether to use the camera or scaling
on Mar 20, 2018 at 10:02:43 pm

Good point Mark.
Tom, just keep in mind that once you convert each layer to 3D and use a camera and start pushing your layers into the Z, when you scale them up to get them to the size you want (and not to simulate a camera move) that percentage of scale doesn't mean much anymore. So a 1000 pixel image pushed to 5000 units in the Z will be very very small. Scale it up to fill the frame (even though its way back there in the distance) and your scale factor might be 500%. That doesn't mean you have blown up the image to 500% and that the quality will be horrible. It just means its 5 times bigger than it looked back there on the horizon.
As long as the image in real life is larger than it appears when the camera is as close to it as its going to get then you will be below 100% of real world scaling and the image will remain sharp.
Keep in mind too that when you have a moving camera you should have motion blur turned on and that blur can put a bandaid on many overly scaled/soft elements. A good rule of thumb for scaling is nothing over 130%. While it will be softer at this size you can get pretty close to the original sharpness with filters. Beyond 130% and you have to go with something like Genuine Fractals to get the kind of blow up you want.
I mention this because in projects like this sometimes original photos etc (like in Mark's doc) will only ever be so big (1990's video was only 640x480 remember: 1/6 of today's standard video). So if you do need a still made bigger there are packages like GF that can blow it up to about 600 percent before it starts to degrade and before you put it into AE.



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Tom Lener
Re: Greenhorn Question: deciding wether to use the camera or scaling
on Mar 21, 2018 at 5:44:02 am

Hello Mark,

thank you for your answer! You are referencing to working with "real world" footage. At the actual project, only vector layers were used. However, please post your work, sounds interesting.

Greetings,
Tom


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Tom Lener
Re: Greenhorn Question: deciding wether to use the camera or scaling
on Mar 21, 2018 at 7:14:18 am

Thank you all for sharing your knowledge!

Since my last post somehow doesn't show up, I try again.

I decided to first set up the whole scene with animations (the tree growing, leaves gone with the wind, color change, text) and as the last step added camera zoom and movement. Because all elements are vector layers, by activating "continuously rasterize" the resolution stays perfectly sharp all the time.

This workflow was easygoing and I enables me to make changes very quickly. Compared to a recent project where I modified size and position, the camera is much more comfortable to use.

I dropped the idea with the seed because I have to get better with AE first before I am ready to use such things in production.

If you are interested, this is the final animation:


Thank you all once again, have a nice day!
Tom


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Mark Whitney
Re: Greenhorn Question: deciding wether to use the camera or scaling
on Mar 21, 2018 at 7:26:40 pm

Very nice piece Tom. I suspect we'll be learning from you quite soon.


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Tom Lener
Re: Greenhorn Question: deciding wether to use the camera or scaling
on Mar 21, 2018 at 9:04:32 pm

Thanks Mark,

I'll do my best to share the things I learn or experience while making animations.

I noticed that many people in this forum work with real world footage, is this the right place to post also for vector animations?

Best wishes,
Tom


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Mark Whitney
Re: Greenhorn Question: deciding wether to use the camera or scaling
on Mar 21, 2018 at 9:15:37 pm

If it's After Effects related, it sure is.


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