Discovering Camera Animation Basics in Maya Part 1

As far as Maya is concerned, a camera is just another object, similar to the spaceship that you animated previously. So why is camera animation any different than any other form of object animation? The first reason is because you are actually animating the viewer through the scene. And you need to exercise an extraordinary amount of care when you lead the viewer through your scenes. A good way to work with a camera in Maya is to not make the camera do anything a real camera cannot do.

Discovering Camera Animation Basics in Maya

For example, you are working on a feature film and a camera is going to be from the point of view of the actor running down a city street and turning into a doorway. The camera in that situation would not abruptly turn as soon as it got to the doorway. It would turn with a fluid motion and would more than likely have some kind of leading motion, meaning that the camera starts turning before it actually gets to the doorway. This is a rule that most animation productions stick to with very few exceptions.

You also need to limit panning and swinging the camera on its axis. Remember that cameras in Maya are single lens cameras—there is no peripheral vision. Because of that, if you overdo the swings and the pans of your camera, it can become a very distracting part of the animation, and really take away from the overall quality of the final product.

A good way to test this on yourself is to cup your hands around your eyes, then rotate in your seat 180° as quickly as you can. Again, if you watch how filmmakers treat their cameras, you will see very few pans and axis swings of the camera. When they do pan a camera or swing a camera on its axis, it is just done more slowly and controlled in order to add to the overall scene and not take away from it. Unless of course, it is following a very fast moving object.

Join us next week for more Part 2 of Discovering Camera Animation Basics in Maya!

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