Camera Layer II

Having considered, “What is a Camera Layer and what is it used for?” in the first EASY Camera Layer tutorial. You may now be wondering, “What more is there to learn about the Camera Layer?” An answer to this question awaits you…

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


Camera Layer Effects - FOR MOVEMENT
(Keyframes Bar; Add, Delete, Copy and Paste Keys)

As you have already covered the necessary requisites to be able to select Properties and animate them over time by adding Keys to the timeline, you should be able to create a new show (Ctrl+N), set a total duration of 5 seconds and select the FIRST LAYER, which should be a Camera Layer (Ctrl+1). Then you will need to enter the following Keys on the Keyframes Bar as indicated in the table below:

NOTE: Just to clarify what the table describes; on the far left is the location (TIME) along the Keyframes Bar that a change occurs and the remaining columns to the left are the five Properties you will need to animate as described.

Before you begin, you will be happy to note that there’s an approach you can adopt to reduce the task in hand:

  1. Firstly using the Current Time and Create Key button, you can create Keys along the Keyframes Bar as indicated in the table under the Time column. If you make a mistake you can either delete the Key using the Delete Key button or move it to the correct time by dragging the Key with your mouse—depending on the type of mistake made.
  2. Secondly, relying on the fact that each Property has a default value as set by BluffTitler;
    1. you will only need to change the Field of View setting to 175 at the Current Time of 00:00.000, all other Keys will be set at 60 by default, and
    2. you will only need to change the Position and Rotation settings where they are not set to their default values (ie:   0 [First Slider]   0 [Second Slider]   0 [Third Slider])
  3. Next you can animate the Fade Colour settings; open Windows’ Colourpicker and mix the first colour and add it to custom colours, then mix the second adding it also, as well as the third colour. Move to the various Keys and select the appropriate saved Colour Swatch you've just saved except 00:04.000 for which you can copy and paste the Key at 00:03.400 as they will be identical at this stage.
  4. Finally, go ahead and set all the remaining Fade Stage property settings.

PHEW! That wasn't such an arduous task after all.

Time Position Rotation Field of View Fade Colour Fade Stage
00:00.000 0 0 -1200 0 40 -1440 175 191 0 63 0.75
00:02.059 0 0 200 0 0 0 60 191 0 63 0.75
00:02.060 -230 0 0 0 0 0 60 191 0 63 0.5
00:03.400 0 0 0 0 0 0 60 0 63 191 0.5
00:04.000 0 0 0 0 0 0 60 0 63 191 0.25
00:04.200 0 -412.5 0 0 0 -90 60 0 191 130 0.25
00:05.000 540 -412.5 0 0 0 -90 60 0 191 130 0.25

Now that you have animated the Properties of the Camera Layer as shown, it's time to concern yourself with adding, as the title of this section suggests, an effect for [additional] Movement!

To add an effect to any layer you can either:

  1. Click on the Change Effect button; or
  2. Use the shortcut key F9 (or F8); or
  3. Go to MEDIA menu and choose Change Effect

Click on the ‘Select Effect’ button and for the purposes of this tutorial it is suggested you confine yourself to the Filters folder and choose the Shaker effect. Once chosen click ‘Open’ and read the effect description, then click ‘OK’ to exit the dialogue box. Now, have a look at the Properties Dropdown, you should see that a further six properties have been added:

Maybe Frequency and Amplitude don’t mean much to you, then think of these terms as ‘length of time before a repeat’ (frequency) and ‘amount of change during that time’ (amplitude). Click Try It Yourself for some easy experiments before you move on.

OK, now that you know roughly what the Shaker effect does, it’s time for you to incorporate it into your show. Try to use it sparingly where you think it will enhance the movement of the camera rather like adding sugar to your hot drink or salt to your hot meal; a little can go a long way… Too much and your tasty sustenance is ruined.

To get you started perhaps there’s already ample movement of the camera for most of the show, but a little extra ‘spice’ at the end wouldn’t go amiss!

Create a new show, add the Shaker effect to the Camera Layer and set all six FX Properties to: 0   0 (to do this quickly hold the Ctrl Key and slide the first slider to 0 of each in turn). Now set FX Frequency 1 First Slider to 1 and FX Amplitude 1 First Slider to its maximum of 0.2. Observe that the camera moves from side to side.

NOTE: Likewise if you were to set the Second Sliders only thus you would observe that the camera moves up and down.

Leave the setting for FX Frequency 1 and FX Amplitude 1 as set above. Now turn your attention to FX Frequency 2, and FX Amplitude 2 and set them exactly the same. What can you observe? If you think the side to side movement has doubled you’re quite right. Now set FX Amplitude 2 first slider to -0.2. What has happened to the camera movement and what can you conclude from this?

Hopefully you have concluded that the settings for FX Frequency 1 and FX Amplitude 1 and FX Frequency 2 and FX Amplitude 2 affect each other… so too with FX Frequency 3 and FX Amplitude 3.

You’ve looked at how to enter Keys more efficiently using a Property’s default value to your advantage, coupled with copy and paste .

You’ve had an introduction to extending the functionality of the Camera Layer with effects and if you come across an effect with an interesting name, but don’t know what it does or how to use it – what can you do to find out more about it?

Camera Layer Effects - FOR TEXTURE
(Keyframes Bar; All Keys)

Once again you will need to create a new show and input the following Keys from the table below:

You might find it helpful to think of the show in two halves: 00:00.00 and 00:03.000 are the same except the Position and Rotation settings change from positive to negative and vice versa. It would be easy, therefore, to set all the Properties at 00:00.000 then move to the end of the Keyframes Bar and just change the Position and Rotation settings. Next move to 00:00.400 and set the Position, Rotation, Fade Colour and Fade Stage properties, Copy this Key and Paste at 00:02.600 and change the setting for Rotation only. Job Done!

Time Position Rotation Field of View Fade Colour Fade Stage
00:00.000 742.5 0 488.25 -0.781228 0 0 170 0 0 0 0.825
00:00.400 0 0 480 0.249981 0 0 170 112 64 92 0.2
00:02.600 0 0 480 -0.249981 0 0 170 112 64 92 0.2
00:03.000 -742.5 0 488.25 0.781228 0 0 170 0 0 0 0.825

Now you can move onto the more interesting segment of this section… You are going to add an effect to the Camera Layer; this time you are going to choose one that will render a texture over the viewport. The one chosen in the example is to be found in the Filters folder, called ‘Circles’.

Choose a Key where you can see the text clearly, either the second or third will suffice and adjust the FX properties until you find a combination to your liking.

Remember: to change all the Keys at the same time, you will need to click the All Keys Checkbox.

It is suggested you try adjusting FX Tiles Property to a value in excess of 180; perhaps you will be interested to know that you can type in values higher and lower than those set by the Sliders. Now turn your attention to the FX Padding Property, try values in the region of -0.5 to 0.08.

Be sure to click on Try It Yourself for some fun experiments and suggestions. That about wraps it up for this section.

Change the effect to ‘Squares’ – you will find that you have a new property ‘FX Bevel’ to play with. To begin with you might find a Bevel setting where both Property Sliders are the same (circa 0.4-0.6) will give the best results. You already know how to set the values of all Sliders at the same time by holding the Ctrl Key and adjusting the first Slider with your mouse pointer.

It's time for further experimentation, change the effect to ‘Carved Glass’ and use the All Keys Checkbox to set the FX Line Thickness propety to 0.4 and the FX Number of Lines property to 85. Choose your own FX Line Colour and set the FX Period to a value between 0.2 and 0.5. Play your animation, make an assessment and don’t be afraid to experiment with other effects in the Filters Folder. As a suggestion, start with; Blobs, Concentric Circles and Noise. You will have fun creating some interesting textures, which you can save as new shows for later reference.

You should be able to change property settings across all Keys easily and know how to experiment with new effect files.

You also learnt that you can go beyond the values set by the Property Sliders. Though a word of caution, use values outside the range set in a subtle way to start with and monitor the effect.

Camera Layer Effects - FOR COLOUR
(Colour Intensity; Moving along the Timeline with precision; Using more than one Physics at the same time.)

Using the table below, you will once again need to create a new base show from which to work. How you do this, however, will be entirely up to you.

Time Position Rotation Field of View Fade Colour Fade Stage
00:00.000 -1200 0 -1000 90 20 0 60 255 128 64 0.25
00:01.000 0 0 230 0 0 0 60 255 128 64 0.25
00:02.000 0 0 0 0 0 360 34.3333 255 128 64 0
00:03.000 1200 0 0 -120 -30 360 60 255 128 64 0

Now that you've created your show, you can move on to the more important and interesting aspects of this tutorial. First, you will be introduced to a new camera property, Colour Intensity. Move to position 00:02.000 and change the camera's Colour Intensity to see its effect. You will notice that a value of 0 renders the camera's view in black and white and the default value of one gives full colour, but did you notice how the colours change when you increase the value above 1?

It is suggested that you change the colour intensity property as follows:

  1. 00:00.000 0
  2. 00:01.000 1
  3. 00:02.000 2
  4. 00:03.000 2

Now select the Physics property ‘Robotic’. Play your animation and observe the effect, you will see something similar to the show shown here.

It is not currently possible in BluffTitler (v13) to use more than one Physics property at a time on the same layer. However, you will be happy to learn that Physics properties can be emulated by judicious use of Keys. You will now recreate the effect of ‘Robotic’ using ‘Constant Speed’ and well placed keys. To start, move the Timeline Slider slowly over the first second of the show. You should see that the camera moves and stops a total of three times during this period.

Moving the Timeline Slider with the mouse, it is difficult to see exactly where the changes occur. There is a more accurate way to move along the Timeline… Place the Timeline slider at position 00:00.000 and press the Left Arrow Key on your keyboard. You will see that the Timeline slider moves slowly to the left. To move it slowly to the right you can use the Right Arrow Key on your keyboard.

Equipped with this new knowledge, move the slider slowly and observe the movement of the camera. You should come to the conclusion that the camera moves between 00:00.000 and 00:00.250 then stops and moves again between 00:00.500 and 00:00.675, and finally moves between 00:00.750 and 00:00.925. The question is, how can you emulate this movement with ease? The answer (you may or may not be pleased to hear) involves a little maths. First you need to calculate the midpoints when the camera is not moving as follows:

You should suppose that start is the time when the camera first stops, finish is the time when the camera then moves again…

  1. finish (0.425) - start (0.25) = duration (0.175)
  2. duration (0.175) divided by 2 = midpoint (0.0875) between start and finish
  3. start (0.25) plus midpoint (0.0875) equals camera midpoint (0.3375), which you will need to round up to 0.338.

You will need to do the same for the two remaining instances when the camera is not moving and you should arrive at the following midpoints: 0.338; 0.588; and 0.838. Now that you have the midpoints, you can safely proceed as follows:

  1. Go to the second (middle) midpoint in the sequence, i.e. 0.588, and create a new Key.
  2. If you play the animation, you will see that over the duration of the first second there are now six pauses in camera movement in replacement of the previous three. Fortunately, the first and last midpoints are now the new middle points of two freshly created sequences either side of 0.588. This means that you can use these points of reference safely for this exercise to place new Keys.
  3. Next, you will now need to move these newly created Keys to the correct (start) positions and copy and paste them to the correct (finish) positions to create the sequence of Keys that will emulate the ‘Robotic’ Physics property. Just to check, you should end up with a new Key at 0.25 which is then repeated at 0.425, a second new Key at 0.5 which is repeated at 0.675, and finally a third new Key at 0.75 which is repeated at 0.925.
  4. Don't worry if this seems confusing at first, you can now practice what you've just learned by repeating the process for the last second of the show between 00:02.000 and 00:03.000. If you make a mistake at any stage, simply delete all your new keys and start again at 1. above.

Once you are happy that this stage of the tutorial is completed successfully, you can move on… Select ‘Constant Speed’ as the Physics property in place of ‘Robotic’ and play your animation. Have you successfully created an animation that has the feel of robotic movement in the first and last seconds with the middle section just rotating?

At this stage it would be a good idea to have a look at some of the suggestions in ‘TRY IT YOURSELF’. Finally, you can alter the spin of the middle section by adding a further Key at 00:02. 338 and setting the Rotation property to 0, 0, 360. You have done well!

Now you can turn your attention to adding an effect for colour – as the title of this tutorial suggests. The effect you should choose is SuperGradient.cfx as located in the Effects\Filters subfolder. Using the all keys tick box you can choose your own colours for the FX Colour top left, FX Colour bottom left, FX Colour top right, and FX Colour bottom right for all keys. It is also suggested that you set all FX Lighting factor keys to 1.

Congratulations you've made it this far and should have a show that looks even more interesting than the one shown!

At this stage in the tutorial, an opportunity presents itself for you to experiment with different ‘Physics’ options... Try different ones and play your animation to see which one(s) you particularly like.

You should also try changing the position of the last Key added (in the middle section) where the rotation is completed. That is, to move it closer to 00:02.000 or further away. In this tutorial it was suggested to use a position akin to the first calculated midpoint (X.338). What do you think – was this a good choice?

In this section we had a look at how to move along the timeline incrementally (in thousandths of a second), do you remember which keys on your keyboard we used to do this?

We also had a look at how to emulate the ‘Robotic’ Physics property by placing Keys at strategic positions; do you remember why we chose to add our first key at the second midpoint position and not either of the other two?

Which effect would you use to create a 4-colour gradient? If you wanted a rainbow of colours, which four colours could you chose and in what position would they be best placed?

Camera Layer Effects - FOR DISTORTION
(Using the Mouse to adjust layer properties)

Here we are again; it’s time for you create a new show using the table below... However, observe please that it is not always necessary to set a Key right at the beginning of the Timeline. In fact, it is possible to set just one key with altered properties and delete it, leaving the newly set properties for that layer in tact.

As you have so far discovered, when setting properties, you can either move the slider with your mouse or alternatively you can type in the desired setting for greater accuracy and this will afford you an accuracy of up to 6 decimal places. There is one further method you have yet to experience. Have a look at its description in the User Manual. Why not you use this newly revealed method and see how quickly you can create your show. Don't forget the shorcut key combinations you already know to easily switch between layer properties (Alt+1)

Time Position Field of View Fade Colour Fade Stage
00:00.500 0 0 -1200 120 128 128 128 0.667
00:02.000 0 0 -135 75 128 128 128 0.41665
00:02.500 0 0 220 60 128 128 128 0.3333

You are going to add an effect for distortion and to this end you should select ForceFields.cfx as found in the effects\filters folder. When you select this effect, make sure that you read the description. I'm sure you do not need to be reminded that this is always a good practice. You might also like to have a look at ‘TRY IT YOURSELF’ before moving forward.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the ForceFields.cfx effect. You are going to use this effect to create the impression that the camera is looking at a fly in motion. Don't be confused, this is not an effect that adds motion to the camera but rather distorts its view. That is to say, the camera and objects in front of it are relatively stationary. The only movement the camera makes is to move closer to the text as set by keys along the Keyframe Bar.

Move to the first Key, and because you want to see the effect, you will need to set the FX Periods, FX Ranges and FX Horizontal/FX vertical keys in tandem. By that, it is meant that these three properties work together to produce the effect. So, it is suggested that you set the following arbitrary values to begin with:

Now it's time to experiment, you will note that the first slider is used for the FX Horizontal position whereas the second slider is used for the FX Vertical position. This is because you do not want the same FX Power and FX Range for both vertical and horizontal distortion. Starting with FX Horizontal positions try values in the range of 1 – 4 for the First Slider only ALL KEYS (you may want to come back later to adjust this and subsequent settings.) Next, adjust the FX Vertical positions second slider in the range 1 – 4 ALL KEYS. Now adjust the FX Periods first slider in the range of 4-6 and the second slider 4-1 ALL KEYS. You should start to see the beginnings of your fly flight path. The real ‘power’ will come when you start to adjust the FX Powers property (pun fully intended!)

For the first Key on the Keyframes Bar only, adjust the FX Powers property first slider in the range of 10-30, and the second in the range 4-10. If you're not quite getting the kind of effect you want, you will have to revisit the Keys you've set thus far and adjust them accordingly in the range suggested. Once you're happy with the setting(s) move to the next Key and reduce the FX Powers settings by about half. Finally move to the last Key and set the FX Powers properties to 0.

Whilst at the last Key have a look at the FX Lighting Factor property and set this anywhere in the range of 1-4 for a dramatic look! You can also add colour, as you have done before by using the Fade Colour property.

Congratulations, you should have a beautiful and dramatic finish to your show.

The ForceFields.cfx can be a little tricky to understand at first glance. It is suggested that you might like to move the Timeline slider to the last Key at 00:02.500 and set the FX Horizontal Position sliders 1-3 to 0.5, the FX Vertical Position sliders 1-3 to the same, the FX Ranges and FX Powers to 0 and finally the FX Periods to 10. From these settings it will be easier to get a picture of what this effect can do.

First, set the FX Horizontal Position slider number 2 to 0.475, the FX Ranges Position slider number 2 to 0.15 and the FX Powers Slider number 2 to 10. What can you observe? If you're not sure what you are looking at think of the effect like passing a magnifying glass over the lens of the camera.

Now, set the FX Ranges Position slider number 1 to 0.3 — the effect will have intensified. Next set the same slider to 0.05... Are you getting an idea of what's going on? You need to experiment further. If you set the FX Horizontal Position slider number 2 to 0.5 the animation stops. Finally, set the same slider to 0.375 and set the first slider to 0.475. What can you see happening now? What do you think would be the effect of swapping the FX Horizontal Position and FX Vertical Position settings?

According to the User's Manual, which mouse movement controls the first property slider? Also, how can holding the Ctrl Key assist with this method?

Is it possible to move one thousandths of a second along the Timeline?

In this tutorial you are reminded of (Alt+1) as a means to select the first property of the current layer. Which shortcut key combination allows you to select the second layer?

Which key combination will enable you to reset all property layers at the current key?

Finally, which key combination will allow you to move between Keys on the Keyframes Bar with ease?

Camera Layer - CONCLUSION

Well here you are at the concluding tutorial of the (EASY) Camera Layer. There is plenty of scope for experimentation given the grounding these tutorials have provided. You probably now see the camera not just as an eye into the 3D World, but more so the Narrator. You have probably watched many films, YouTube videos, television programmes, etcetera to know that good camera work can enhance narrative and, conversely, bad camera work can detract from it.

Mechanically speaking, the Camera Layer can Pan (think of turning your head from side to side), tilt (looking up and down) and roll (to look at the spine of a book on a library shelf) by using the Rotation sliders 1-3 respectively; truck (move to either side), pedestal (up and down like a lift) and dolly (walk forward or backward) by using the Position sliders 1-3 respectively; and zoom by using the Field of View property. It is up to you how you use these movements to narrate your story and to illustrate your show. Perhaps the next time you watch a video or animation you will pay more than the usual attention to how the camera travels through the scene.

You have covered many things during these short tutorials, and yet there is still more to know. You are encouraged, therefore, to read the requisite section on the camera layer in the User’s Manual. If you have the EASY version of BluffTitler then not all properties will be available to you; just concentrate on the ones that are.

As a treat (and because it’s not available in the EASY version) this concluding lesson will help you to create scrolling text…

To start, create a new show (Ctrl+N) and change the first Camera Style from ‘Perspective Projection’ to ‘Parallel Projection’. You will note that the text looks flat. If you read the section on the Camera Layer in the User’s Manual as suggested you will know why!

The parallel projected camera offers a new property; Size. This property can be thought of as a type of ‘zoom’, perhaps you would like, at this time, to try different Size property values to see how the camera’s view is altered? Now turn your attention to the Rotation property and set a value of 0, -13, -2. The text has more of a 3D look to it. To finish this part, set the Fade Colour and Fade Stage to your liking.

To get the text to scroll across the bottom as shown in the video, you will use an effect file. Choose Flare.cfx and set an FX Speed value equivalent to 1 divided by the length of your show, so before you calculate this increase the length of your show to 5 seconds (1/5 = 0.2). Use a negative value to have the text scroll from right to left (as shown.)

It is hoped you enjoyed learning about the Camera Layer, next you will turn your attention to the Point light layer. Until then, happy BluffTitling!

To increase the 3D effect of the text use a greater value for the second and third sliders of the Rotation property and adjust the second slider of the Position property to bring the text back into view.

Furthermore, for a really eye-catching (annoying) scroll set the FX Flicker Period anywhere between 0.2-0.5.

What is the difference between parallel and perspective projection?

Using the Parallel Camera, what does Size do?

Have a look at the Tools Window and see how many buttons you can name the shortcut key combinations for.