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Auto-orient camera ONLY along x and y paths

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Tim BentleyAuto-orient camera ONLY along x and y paths
by on Jun 22, 2012 at 11:12:46 am

Hi all

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.

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)?

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?

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

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Tim BentleyRe: Auto-orient camera ONLY along x and y paths
by on Jun 22, 2012 at 11:40:22 am

This poster has exactly the same problem, with a train and not a camera... There's no replies though:

There's also this great expression:

but I can't get it to work properly with a camera :-(

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John CuevasRe: Auto-orient camera ONLY along x and y paths
by on Jun 22, 2012 at 12:14:03 pm

Are you using a two-node camera? That would cause the Z flipping as the camera moves past the "look at" point? You can check that by double-clicking on the camera and checking the pulldown in the top left of the camera dialogue box.

If the 2 node/1 node change doesn't help, post your question in the After Effects Expressions forum. Dan Ebberts, the man who created the motionscript website is there all the time and will probably be able to adjust that expression to do exactly what you need.

Johnny Cuevas, Editor

"I have not failed 700 times. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work."
---THOMAS EDISON on inventing the light bulb.

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Tim BentleyRe: Auto-orient camera ONLY along x and y paths
by on Jun 22, 2012 at 12:18:49 pm

Thanks for your reply - I'm only using a one-node camera, although have tried with a two-node, animating the point of interest so it is always a few seconds ahead of the motion path. Great idea, but it didn't work :-)

I'll try posting in the expressions forum!

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