The Camera Layer

The first layer of any show is a Camera Layer (unless there is no camera – but that’s a subject for future discussion!) You may well ask yourself something like, “What is it and what is it used for?” Answers to these types of questions are precisely what will be considered here…


NOTE: If you want to save your show as a picture or video, it must have at least one camera layer!

 

First Things First...

It is assumed that you have looked at some if not all of the camera shows that come preinstalled with BluffTitler in the BluffTitler\Media\Shows\Camera folder. If not, NOW is really a good time to do so and to get there you can, either:

..then click on the APP button to the top right of dialogue box that appears; this will take you to the correct place. Double-click the Camera Folder and watch CameraLesson-1 through CameraLesson-5. You can watch the others as well, but do not pay too much attention to any other layers. Just try to get a feel of the movement of the camera through the show as if you are the camera. You can think of the camera as an eye looking into the 3D world—your eye!


Open a New Show...
(New Show and Tool Window)

Now that you’ve had a look at the shows that came installed with BluttTitler, let’s have a look at the Camera Layer in a bit more detail. For your convenience, above is an image of the EASY version Tool Window showing the Camera Layer in a New Show. If you want to see the Ultimate version Tool Window then you can visit the relevant section of the User Guide.

Launch BluffTitler (if it is not already running) and open a New Show by either:

If you do not see the Tool Window (as illustrated above) you can either:

Across the top of the Tool Window are icons and if you hover your mouse over them you will quickly see what they do as tooltips appear. You’ve already met your first one, . Below this row are controls to do with the current LAYER. In the illustration above, we see that the layer shown is the FIRST LAYER and it is a Camera layer. When you open a New Show, the layer normally shown is the third layer - a Text Layer. You can click on the Layers Dropdown select box and choose the first layer. As mentioned before, the Camera Layer is important to see what’s in your show.

When you’re ready click on ‘Try It Yourself’ for a few fun experiments you may want to attempt.

Click the Visible checkbox on the right of the Tools Window and observe the effect... Can you still see the text ‘BluffTitler’ or has the viewport gone black or another colour? How could a show benefit from not having an active Camera Layer? Once you've pondered these questions, click on the Visible checkbox again to to make the camera visible.

Can you: Open a new show?.. Show and Hide the Tools Window (it's the same key combination for both)?.. Make a layer invisible or visible?.. Open an existing show in the BluffTitler\Media\Shows\Camera Folder?


Animating the Camera PART ONE
(Camera Position and Camera Field of View)

By the end of this section you will be able to produce the animation you see shown here. But first I am directing you to read in the User's Guide the following sections:

  1. The Properties Dropdown Goto Relevant Section
  2. The 3 Property Sliders Goto Relevant Section
  3. The reset Button Goto Relevant Section
  4. The 3 Property Edit Boxes Goto Relevant Section

Now that you've read about the Property Dropdown selection box , you will become more familiar with it by employing two of the available properties to create the animation shown. Click on this selector to reveal the six properties we can animate, namely:

  1. Position
  2. Rotation
  3. Field of View
  4. Colour Intensity
  5. Fade Colour
  6. Fade Stage

You need to concern yourself with only two of these: Position and Field of View.

Click on the Goto Start button and make sure that you are on LAYER 1: Camera and move the third property slider to the left and to the right. You should notice quite a few things happen:

It's time to read a little more from the User Guide... You are encouraged to read about the following four topics:

  1. Current Time Goto Relevant Section
  2. Number of Keyframes Goto Relevant Section
  3. Keyframes Bar Goto Relevant Section
  4. Time Slider Goto Relevant Section

Make sure you are on LAYER 1: Camera and still at a Current Time of 00:00.000, press Function key 2 ( F2) and you should see a grid appear. We are going to use this grid as a guide to help us animate the camera accurately. Firstly move the third slider of the Position property until the word ‘BluffTitler’ touches the far right and far left vertical lines of the grid. You should have arrived at a position of somewhere between 235 and 240.

Now move the Timeline Slider forward to 1 second (00:01.000) or you can type this time directly into the Current Time box and move the camera forward (3rd Slider) so that the top bar of the Letter ‘T’ almost disappears from view.

Next you will need to select Field of View and move the one and only slider until the text ‘BluffTitler’ rests on the far left and far right grid lines as before. Move the Timeline Slider forward to two seconds (00:02.000) and click the RESET button which should return the Field of View setting to 60.

Now we shall select the Position property and click the Goto Start button and copy this first key using the Copy Key button and then paste at the last keyframe we just created at 00:02.000. To get there we could move the Timeline Slider, or we could type in 00:02.000 into the Current Time box, or we could click on this key on the Keyframes Bar. No, we’re going to do it another way... by using the Next Key button. Alternatively, we could have used the Goto End and Previous Key buttons.

Go to the end of the Keyframes Bar (however you wish) and set the third Position slider to -386. Select the Field of View property and change the value until the word ‘BluffTitler’ touches the left and right vertical lines of the grid. You should now have four keyframes on the Keyframes Bar. Press the Play button or press Function key 4 (F4) to play your animation. You will now need to save your show and give it an appropriate name... we shall use it as a basis for PART TWO. To save your show you can either:

How did you do?

Press F4 to start playback. What do you think will happen if you press it again before the show has finished playing? Try it and see; were you correct?

Using the Previous Key and Next Key quickly move from Key to Key along the Keyframes Bar and see what’s happening to the text ‘BluffTitler’... Why do you think there seems to be a change to the text’s depth? If you recognise this effect to have something to do with perspective then you’re doing great!

Can you now: Select the correct layer?... Select the correct property?... Move the timeline slider along the Keyframes Bar?... Understand the relationship between the camera’s Position and it’s Field of View?... Quickly start and stop playback of your show?


Animating the Camera PART TWO
(Camera Rotation and Reset to Default)

Open the show you created earlier (Ctrl+O) and before you do anything use Save As from the FILE menu to make a separate copy ready for further editing, be sure to choose an appropriate name. You’ve already become a little familiar with the Camera Layer properties: Position and Field of View. Now you will add to your knowledge and use Rotation.

Goto the first Key and to do this you already know how to use the controls on the Tool Window, but you can also use keyboard shortcuts as well:

Now that you are at the start of the Keyframes Bar and the Current Time box is showing 00:00.000 make sure you have the first layer selected. You can click on the Layers Dropdown listbox as you’ve done before or you can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+1.

You’ve met the RESET button before and this will reset the current property but now you will want to reset the current Position and Field of View properties at the same time. To do this hold the Shift key and click the RESET button (Shift+RESET).

Move to the next Key (Ctrl+Alt+RightArrow) and select the Rotation property and set the first slider to 9.7. Using the grid as a guide (F2) you will have to adjust the Field of View property so that the text ‘BluffTitler’ is sitting on the far left vertical line.

Before you complete the last step of PART TWO, just take a moment to absorb a few more keyboard shortcuts:

  1. You already know (Ctrl+1), which will select LAYER 1 the FIRST LAYER
  2. Now say ‘Hello’ to (Alt+2), which will select Property 2 the Second Property

Move to the end of the timeline (choose whatever method you like) and change the Position third slider to -1200. Select the second property (Rotation) using the shortcut key (Alt+2) set the first slider so that the word ‘BluffTitler’ sits on the far right on the grid.

Congratulations, your animation when played should resemble the video animating in this section. Save your edits with the keyboard shortcut (Ctrl+S.)

If (Ctrl+1) selects the FIRST LAYER, do you think (Ctrl+2) will select the SECOND LAYER? Yes it does. In fact you can select up to 10 Layers in this way; (Ctrl+0) is the TENTH LAYER.

Likewise, what about (Alt+3), what property will this select? Will it select the Third Property? How many properties can you select in total?

NOTE: Do not try to select layers or properties that are not present—you may crash the program!

In PART TWO you met Shift+RESET; what’s the difference between this and just RESET? We also met Ctrl+1 and Alt+1 what do they do and how would you select the Tenth Property of the TENTH LAYER? What is the keyboard shortcut for taking you to the Next Key on the timeline (Keyframes Bar)?


Animating the Camera PART THREE
(Camera Property Fade and Show Duration)

Using the show you created in PART TWO as a template, you are going to further enhance your knowledge of the Camera Layer. To begin, if it isn’t already open, please open it and make a copy under a new name using Save As as you did before.

In PART THREE, you are going to look at the Camera Layer Property Fade stage. It’s the sixth property listed in the Property Dropdown listbox. Making sure that you are on the FIRST LAYER, what keyboard shortcut do you think you could use to select this property quickly? If you said (Alt+6), you’re doing very well!

Once you’ve got the Fade Stage property selected, slide the one and only slider to the left and to the right and watch what it does. Now set a small amount (circa 0.25) of fade on the first Key; about half [0.5] on the third Key and about three quarters [0.75] on the last Key. You do not need to be precise... the best shows are less mechanical and more organic in their settings.

Now your show is starting to look like the video shown in this section - but there is one more step to consider and that is the length (or duration) of your show...

To change the duration of a show you have a choice, you can either:

  1. Goto the FILE menu and select Set Show Duration;or
  2. Use the keyboard shortcut (Ctrl+L);or
  3. Click the Set Show Duration button on the Tools Window

Once you’ve made your choice of ‘modus operandi’, you will be presented with a dialogue box showing the current duration in a text area with the words, “New total duration in seconds” next to it. When you type in your new duration a set of three buttons will become active depending on the new length you choose. If you choose a shorter length then you will be presented with Shrink, Remove From End and Remove From Beginning. You, on the other hand are going to add to the duration by 1 or 2 seconds.

It’s time to have a closer look at the options now presented in this dialogue box:

Another step completed! Don’t forget to save your show and run the animation, it should look something like the one shown in this section.

Close your saved show and create a new show (Ctrl+O). Move the Timeline Slider along the Keyrames Bar and change the Camera Position using the third slider at various intervals (this is known as ‘zooming’ the camera). Now play your newly created animation (F4) and change the duration to be a) longer and play the animation, then b) shorter and play the animation.

This should start to give you a flavour of the value of retiming a sequence (show) for effect.

In PART THREE you looked at the overall duration of your animation and how to change it. Do you remember the difference between Add to End and Stretch? Which button on the Tools Window would you press to set the show’s duration?

What’s the difference between (Ctrl+1) and (Alt+1)?

You were also introduced to a new Camera Layer Property. Do you remember which one?


Animating the Camera PART FOUR
(Camera Fade Colour and Layer Physics)

Last time you looked at the Fade Stage setting for the Camera Layer. This setting works in conjunction with the Fade Colour setting. Save a copy of your show as you’re about to change the colour from its default setting of white to something more interesting.

Goto the FIRST LAYER (Ctrl+1), then select the Fade Colour setting (Alt+5). Now because there are already Keys on the Keyframes Bar you will want to change the colour for all these keys at the same time and to do that you will need to select the All Keys checkbox. When you’ve done that, you can go ahead and choose a nice colour for all Keys. If you know your RGB colour values then you can go ahead and change these as you wish (the first slider is RED, the second GREEN and the third BLUE), but there is a more visual option you can choose...

The Function 3 key (F3) will open Windows’ own Colourpicker for you where you can choose a predefined colour or use the colour areas available to define your own. Have fun experimenting!

Last but not least, you have been setting Keys along the timeline and BluffTitler has calculated the necessary movements between these Keys to create a very linear animation. You are going to change that now.

Locate the Physics Dropdown and click on it and you will see that the various options available are:

  1. Constant Speed
  2. Accelerate
  3. Decelerate
  4. Accelerate and Decelerate
  5. Damper
  6. Bouncer
  7. Outside
  8. Pumping
  9. Zig Zag
  10. Robotic
  11. Ping-Pong
  12. No Animation

You can read more on these in the User Guide. Select each one in turn and run your animation (F4). Which one do you think looks most like the animation shown?

Save your updated show and congratulate yourself on completing the stages you've successfully covered thus far.

Create a new show and animate the Fade Stage from 0 to 1 over the entire length of the show using two Keys (one at the start and the other as the end). Now Change the Fade Colour every 1 second (pick bright cheerful colours and don’t forget you can use F3 to call Windows Colourpicker).

Are you getting any ideas for future shows? Not yet?? Move the Keys along the timeline and add a few new ones, then try different ‘tweening’ options from the Physics Dropdown—how about now... any ideas??? You’ve probably thought of plenty!!!

In this last section you familiarised yourself with the Fade Colour property and how to use Windows’ own Colourpicker. Do you remember the Function key you pressed for this? What would be the result of changing the Fade Colour to emerald green and the Fade Stage to 0?

What is meant by Camera Zooming and which property would you use to achieve it?

Of all the options available on the Physics Dropdown, which one makes your show look like a series of still images?