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Best workflow for adding real-world handheld camera wobble?

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Phil Williams
Best workflow for adding real-world handheld camera wobble?
on Jul 19, 2018 at 5:57:01 pm

I've built a corkboard with some photos stuck to it and animated the camera to move between the photos, revealing them one at a time.

I also want to add some real-world handheld camera wobble. I've created this by shooting about 30 seconds of footage on my phone pointing at a target on my desk while letting my arm shake a bit, motion-tracking the result, and applying that track to a null.

Then I precomped all the image layers and parented the precomp to the null. Bingo, a completely organic-looking handheld camera shake effect.

But is this the best/most efficient way of achieving the result I want?

I've been wondering if there's any way to do this just using the AE camera. Is there a technique for applying the motion track to the camera while also maintaining the specific keyframes that move it from one photo to another at specific points in the timeline?

I know I could use an expression to generate camera wobble, but I think that motion-tracking genuine camera shake produces a more realistic result.


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Blaise Douros
Re: Best workflow for adding real-world handheld camera wobble?
on Jul 19, 2018 at 6:39:35 pm

You may be overthinking this. Your method sounds like it works fine! The "best/most efficient way of achieving the result [you] want" is the way that works the first time, with minimal effort, without adding unnecessary complexity and/or render time. There's not always a Platonic Ideal way to achieve results in AE--writing some magical expression isn't the "purest" way of doing things.

That said, you could also experiment with the Wiggle expression. It also works fine!


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Best workflow for adding real-world handheld camera wobble?
on Jul 19, 2018 at 8:06:36 pm
Last Edited By Dave LaRonde on Jul 19, 2018 at 9:55:47 pm

I like the technique -- it moves like hand-held video because it used hand-held video. Nothing wrong with that!

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Phil Williams
Re: Best workflow for adding real-world handheld camera wobble?
on Jul 20, 2018 at 7:56:07 am

I suppose it just felt that I was doing something "wrong" by making the image layers shake, rather than shaking the camera. But of course, applying the motion track to the camera totally screwed up the keyframing of the specially-timed camera moves.


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David Byrne
Re: Best workflow for adding real-world handheld camera wobble?
on Jul 20, 2018 at 11:26:01 am

I agree with Dave and Blaise - if it looks good, it works! VFX artists and animators using thousands of tricks that aren't 'correctly' simulating what the real world equivalent of shooting the same shot would be, and they often have spectacular results.

Also worth considering that in a way you have done the 'correct' thing. You tracked the result of camera shake - ie what you saw through the lens of the camera, and then applied it to what you see through the lens of your AE camera.

To get the correct camera shake for the camera, in theory you would have to have had a second camera film the movement of your phone - Then apply this phone movement to the AE camera! Due to the nature of the lens angle, size, speed and motion stabilisation software in the phone, actually replicating that would've likely turned up vastly different results, either exaggerated or reduced in effect.

(Though it would be interesting to see some tests).

'Does it look right?' is often more important than 'Is it technically right?'. Worse - technically right can often look 'off' to the eye, and needs adjusting!

Cheers!
David Byrne
Animo Motion Graphics
Freelancer, UK


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Chris Wright
Re: Best workflow for adding real-world handheld camera wobble?
on Jul 22, 2018 at 2:52:30 am

yes, AE has 'motion sketch' that will record your mouse movements in real time and turn it into keyframes


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