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Auto-orient camera ONLY along x and y paths

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Tim Bentley
Auto-orient camera ONLY along x and y paths
on Jun 22, 2012 at 12:27:52 pm

Hi all - I posted this in after effects basics, but it was suggested that I post here.

I have a problem which I think can be fixed using expressions, but all the solutions I've found relate to auto-orienting layers, and not the camera itself.
The issue is this: I have a 2D map of the world, and I would like the camera to buzz around it, pausing for little graphics to pop out of the map at various points.
The camera hovers 20 or so pixels above the map in 3D space, and is angled slightly downwards to give the attached view.



I drew a path in illustrator to guide the complicated camera movement across the map. So far, so good. The camera is linked to a null, and I pasted the path from illustrator into the null's position. However, it would save me a lot of trouble manually rotating the camera if I could just auto-orient the camera along the path. The problem is, when I try to do this (although it works beautifully for the x and y orientation), after effects doesn't know what to make of the z value (which remains constant) and sort of flips at random around the z axis. I can understand why it does this, but not how to stop it!

Is there any way, either using expressions or some simple method that I have missed, to just auto-orient a camera along the x and y path, ignoring the z value (which never changes anyway)? I've tried Dan's wonderful expression at http://www.motionscript.com/design-guide/auto-orient-y-only.html, but as it relates to a layer and not the camera (and I'm too dumb to translate the expression to apply to the camera), I can't get it to work.

At worst, is there a way of revealing the orientation set by the 'auto-orient' function, so I can just hammer the z value back to 0 (actually I know this is impossible, but can I use an expression to replace the auto-orient function)?

This has been driving me crazy - thank you for all and any suggestions!!!


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Kevin Camp
Re: Auto-orient camera ONLY along x and y paths
on Jun 25, 2012 at 5:31:13 pm

i as hoping that someone would have a solution to this, as i've had the same issue with the z flipping around.

i'll offer one solution that i've found that's not too elegant... make everything on the xy plane, rather than the xz plane. for what ever reason the math involved with auto-orient along path doesn't seem to effect the y axis the same way that it effects the z.

Kevin Camp
Senior Designer
KCPQ, KMYQ & KRCW


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Tim Bentley
Re: Auto-orient camera ONLY along x and y paths
on Jun 26, 2012 at 11:50:22 am

I'm glad I'm not the only one, and thanks for the suggestion. I tried your method just now and it works, but it's tricky having to auto-orient my brain along the xy plane. It would be great if anyone knows how to amend Dan's expression to apply to a camera instead of a layer, as I think that's the only 'solid' solution. I'm going to try it, although expression's aren't my strong point so it may take a while... At least I'm not straying far from my After Effects workflow of:

1. Simple 4-hour task to do.
2. Think of time-saving technique.
3. Spend 45 hours failing to make time-saving technique work.
5. Spend 4 hours completing simple task.
6. Cry.


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Navarro Parker
Re: Auto-orient camera ONLY along x and y paths
on Jun 30, 2012 at 12:34:35 am

[Tim Bentley] "At least I'm not straying far from my After Effects workflow of:

1. Simple 4-hour task to do.
2. Think of time-saving technique.
3. Spend 45 hours failing to make time-saving technique work.
5. Spend 4 hours completing simple task.
6. Cry."


Too funny! (And WAY too true!)


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