I recently created a video with a significant amount of 3D for a client (see clip at link below), with a camera zooming between text and graphics. I got this all working with a combination of SureTarget (although this is no longer developed by VCP and stopped working after completing about 40% of the animations) and a camera parented to a null. All well and good so far. However, while doing this I thought that there must be a better way to work with cameras and thought I'd turn to the good folk at Creative Cow for their advice; so I was wondering if anyone can let me know their favourite camera plugins before I go and invest in one?
Also I don't come from a photography background and always have a real problem figuring out depth of field – I really wanted to have a shallow DoF in the attached section of the animation so that the little circles attached to the world map would blur out when not the focus, but I could not for the life of me figure out the best way to go about doing this, even after playing around with multiple different cameras, aperture settings and focus distances. Is there any way to make this easier, or should I just knuckle down and do a course/do some learnings?
Finally, the vast majority of shadows in this animation are made with simple point lights, but there are a couple of sections that I needed to use spotlights and again, really struggled to orientate these. I tried parenting the point of interest and position to a camera so I could 'look through' the light, but it had very mixed results.
Would appreciate any help or advice that the community can offer.
I don't have a definite solution for you, but have you considered using the pickwhip to link your camera's point of interest to the object you're looking at?
You could copy the position data for each object and set it as keyframes, then either through an expression on Focus Distance like: length(point1, point2) you could set your focal point to always be the point of interest. You'll still need to mess around with the other DoF settings to get this perfect but that could give you what you're after.
Here's a project file which illustrates what i'm (badly) trying to explain: Camera DoF.aep
https://aescripts.com/handycam/ is a good plugin that's fairly cheap and easy to use. I used it for a series of 2.5D photos recently and it has easy DOF controls. Parenting the spotlights point of interest to your object is a good idea like Graham said. I believe you can do the same with 2 node cameras too. That might help if your doing a lot of complicated camera moves.