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Camera tracking within a larger composition

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Alex Grene
Camera tracking within a larger composition
on Jan 30, 2014 at 3:47:01 pm

I've created a large composition (9000 px across, 16:9 ratio) that contains a bunch of illustrations laid out to make a jungle. I have an animated butterfly moving across part of the jungle; I would like to create a camera that tracks the butterfly at 1920x1080 resolution. The root of my question is, how do I get a camera to move across, and show, only smaller selected parts of the larger composition?

Thanks in advance...

Adobe AE CS 5.5
Windows 7


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Matt Davis
Re: Camera tracking within a larger composition
on Jan 30, 2014 at 4:19:22 pm

Hi Alex,

For me, it would depend on how fast and erratic your butterfly's motion is and how closely you want to track it. If the motion isn't too erratic and the butterfly isn't too big in the frame you could just create a 1920x1080 composition, add a camera to that layer, then add your larger junglescape to that comp. Then just keyframe the position of your junglescape background to keep the butterfly sufficiently in frame.

If you require something more precise...

You could motion track the butterfly, map it to a null layer then parent a camera to the null layer. The only thing I'm not 100% sure of then is that the camera would be showing you 1920x1080. Maybe if you created the camera in a 1920x1080 comp and copied it over to the larger comp?


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Alex Grene
Re: Camera tracking within a larger composition
on Jan 30, 2014 at 4:43:20 pm

Hi Matt, thanks for this.

How would I copy a camera from one comp to another? I'm looking under Edit/Copy, but that option seems to be greyed out when the camera is selected...


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Matt Davis
Re: Camera tracking within a larger composition
on Jan 30, 2014 at 5:17:42 pm

Strange. Are you sure you have it selected?


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Alex Grene
Re: Camera tracking within a larger composition
on Jan 31, 2014 at 1:24:25 am

My mistake. You're correct - I can copy the camera over, and did so. However, even with the camera copied over, I don't seem to be able to get the camera to show only part of the composition. Any chance you'd have further advice on this? Thanks again...


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Matt Davis
Re: Camera tracking within a larger composition
on Feb 13, 2014 at 6:50:44 pm

Is it possible the layers in your comp don't have the 3D switch toggled?


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Matt Davis
Re: Camera tracking within a larger composition
on Feb 13, 2014 at 7:23:50 pm

If your layers have their 3D buttons toggled and the camera still takes up the whole comp...

Make sure that:
- your jungle comp is at 100% scale
- The view at the bottom of your comp window is set to Active Camera.

A less sophisticated way to make sure that your camera is only showing 1920x1080 (maybe other people have a more elegant way) is bring in a still or video clip that you know to be 1920x1080, make it 3D, make sure it's at 100% scale and then adjust the camera until it is exactly lined up.

Keep in mind that this test layer should be at the same Z position as the larger jungle piece.

Sorry for the delay in responses I was away on vacation for a bit.


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