View Full Version : Camera Set-ups for 3D-Animation

12 December 2004, 10:48 PM
One of the more difficult decisions when I made my first short film ( was how to actually film the action. I don't mean specific camera angles, but rather how many cameras to use. It is a very long scene, and the choices I had were:

* Exact planning of each shot and then using just one camera, moving it from place to place to film the ongoing action. This would mean deciding on just one angle, and also that to a large part the editing is already done in the 3D software.

* Using multiple cameras for multiple angles (sitcom-style) and deciding later, which one to use. This, of course would increase the render times enourmously.

I decided to go with the first option except for the ending of that particular scene, where the same action is filmed from different angles and most takes are actually being used.

How did you or would you go about filming a long scene in CG? How is this done in the "professional" world? Good storyboarding and then dividing everything into shots with just one camera? Or a multi-cam approach?

And also, in a cg-studio-pipeline, would you say that the editor plays his part before the rendering, editing animatics and storyboards?


12 December 2004, 06:35 AM
Animatic is the edit.

You certainly want to do an animatic before any time consuming animation or rendering. The editing in animation business is quite a different deal than in life action films. You do not animate and render shots from multiple angles "just in case".

So you definitely fix your cameras before anything else. On eshould aim at system where the animatic/edit evolves with the progress of the project (animatic shots get replaced with animation previews as they get done) so that any needs for adjustments can be done as early in the process as possible.

And generally I would split everything to shots as they appear in the final.


12 December 2004, 05:44 PM
Oh, yes. You must fix your cameras before you go and render. That's what storyboaring is for.
Nice movie, by the way, Marc.

12 December 2004, 09:55 PM
I usually draw storyboards to better visualize a scene.
If I'm still not convinced with a particular shot, then I prepare 2 or three more angles and decide which is the best after a rough preview, that's pretty enough to see if the angle is satisfaying.

I think that post-production editing is the best way, you can literally transform a sequence with an appropriate and clever editing.

12 December 2004, 10:29 PM
I storyboard the heck out of a project. less overhead.
lots of small thumb nails at first. then some character and layout stuff.
When I like that and the timimg feels right. I go to what would be concidered "rough layout"
It consists of VERY simple models and character stand ins. It is at this stage where I get a good scence of the camera movement and staging. When this works I can proceed to the final modeling and only add the details where I need them. I even know I can cheat stuff and paint BG's if it is a locked off shot or a nodal (no parallax) camera move.

At this piont the edit is pretty fixed. but there is always some trimming here and there.
Idaelly the sequence is improved every revision and step.

12 December 2004, 04:28 AM
If you have some kind of super large renderfarm, go ahead and do the multi-camera set-up. If you're running with less than six prossesors total, I'd storyboard everything you can out of your short. Every little frame you draw out, will make your life sooo much easier when it accually comes time to set up your cameras in the program.

12 December 2004, 11:16 AM

very interesting topic, Marc...

in past game cinematic projects we fixed all the camera positions/movements already with the animatic... to save production time for animation and also for background creation...

but I allways found that very limiting for telling the story and it also looked a little bit stiff...

so for my current short movie project... I create the animations first... and then throw in several cameras for different positions to see how I could follow the action best (render times don't really matter at this point because there is no gi, no hair, no complex background in the scenes yet)...

of course the storyboard/animatic give me a raw idea what camera angle I want... but I found I have more possibilities to work with the camera (and watch the action or/and tell the story throw the camera) after the animation is done... and I found the film looks more "round" this way and also transitions from one cut/shot to another are more smoothly this way...

well... of course that means untill that point I have pretty long animation parts in one file (up to 30 seconds in some cases)... but after I found a satisfying combination of camera positions I cut the animations in smaller files for easier handling...


12 December 2004, 10:40 PM
When I shot movies, I storyboarded everything in crappy little thumbnails. It didn't matter when they looked like. The trick is to get the idea out of your head and go over it cheaply before you dive in. Animating and then placing the cameras in my opinion would seem like a bad idea, becuase you don't have a stage to set your poses to. Pencil and paper is cheap, portable, and erasable

Of course, don't be afraid to experiment within the process...;)

12 December 2004, 10:58 PM
Thanks for your input, everyone.

Well, the problem I had (still have, actually): I can't draw well enough for a storyboard to show good camera angles and perspectives. Thumbnails wouldn't help, because I needed to be fairly certain as to what can be in the frame, what is too far away etc.

So here's what I eventually did, rather similar to Vadims workflow, I guess:

I wrote down what I wanted to happen, a script with lots of stage direction. Since it was a football match it was like "red midfielder kicks ball to red striker, who tries to score but misses".

Then I started animating while simultaneously setting up the camera in the best position to frame the action. So I animated both the players and the camera at the same time.

In this process I practically edited my film, too. Watching lots of previews and adjusting the timing of the animation and the length of the shots accordingly.

I think it depends on the kind of project whether elaborate storyboarding can be a timesaver or not. In my case it was faster without it, but I reckon the confined nature of my set (just a foosball table) lent itself to this workflow.


12 December 2004, 04:49 AM
Just wanna's not about showing other people your storyboards. it's about getting something down so you have a solid backbone as to how the story is supposed to move.

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