3ds Max and Revit Interoperability - Part 17 - Animating Cameras

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  • Design Visualization
  • 2015
  • Interoperability
  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Intermediate
7 min

3ds Max and Revit Interoperability - Part 17 - Animating Cameras

In this tutorial, you learn how to animate a couple of camera shots to emphasize the Revit building. You learn to animate the camera and its target, and to edit the trajectory and speed for best effects.


  • Recorded in: 3ds Max 2015
  • This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2015 or higher.


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Continue working on your file from the last movie or use the provided file named Museum_cameras.max

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It's a more complete version of the scene you worked on in the last movie, with about a dozen vehicles moving along their respective paths.

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As much as this adds to the scene, you still need to animate a camera or two to get more interesting shots at the project.

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Still images work well but animations sell a concept better.

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Creating a camera is easy, especially in 3ds Max.

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In the Top view, you create a Target Camera with a simple click and drag to define camera and target positions.

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A target is obviously a point you want to look at, in this case the Museum structure.

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To see what the camera is looking at, switch one of the viewport to display the camera POV.

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This way, as you adjust the camera and target positions, you get instant feedback in the viewport.

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This looks like a good starting point.

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It's also a good idea to rename a camera, we'll name this one: Cam_Street, which hints at a street view.

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Also, do not rely on the viewport for framing a camera shot. The viewport's aspect ratio may not be the same as the final render.

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Instead, set the camera view in Safe Frames mode so you can frame the shot better.

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All that remains is to animate the camera.

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Fortunately, animating a camera for Design Animation is easier than doing so for a movie or a computer game.

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What I mean by that is the camera motion is typically simpler.

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You don't usually initiate camera shakes and fast cuts in Design Animation like you would do for a James Bond movie.

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Instead, you keep camera flow slow and smooth.

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In this case, you'll simply animate the camera linearly in the space of 600 frames or 20 seconds.

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Enable Animate mode and go to frame 600.

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Move the camera in the top view but keep the distance in check.

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Again, you want a slow animation to give the client time to appreciate the building design.

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However, you can lift the camera in Z to give the impression of a crane shot. These always look nice.

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You can also relocate the target at frame 600 if you need to fine-tune the framing of the shot.

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Test out the result by playing the animation in the viewport.

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Adjust as necessary.

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Because you are using a simple move action from point A to point B, the animation automatically takes into account acceleration and deceleration.

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With the camera selected, right-click and go to the Curve Editor.

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Notice the curve that accelerates gently at the beginning and decelerates at the end.

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This is because the position default controller is based on Bezier Float.

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This works well for simple motions like the one you just created.

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Let's do another one, this time you'll create a shot from above, or a bird's eye view.

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Exit Auto Key mode and create another Target Camera, looking at the opposite side of the building.

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Rename it: Cam_Birdseye,

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and switch the 3D viewport to see through the lens of the new camera.

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Adjust the camera and its target to get a nice diving shot at frame 0.

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Go to frame 600 and enable Auto Key mode one more time.

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Move the camera so it's looking at the front of the building again.

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Scrub the animation and notice the problem: the camera is going through the neighboring building.

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This could have been prevented by placing the camera on a path, but it's not hard to fix with simple keyframing.

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All you need is another keyframed position to ensure the camera's trajectory doesn't go through the building.

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You can display the current trajectory by right-clicking the camera and going to the Object Properties dialog.

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Under Display Properties, disable By Layer if you need to (this is a 3ds Max Design default) and enable Trajectory. Click OK when done.

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This shows you the trajectory the camera is traveling along, which is a straight line so far.

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Go to a frame where the camera is in the middle of the side building. I'll use frame 260 in my case.

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With Auto Key still enabled, move the camera outside the building. The trajectory is now an arc.

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In the Curve Editor, verify acceleration and deceleration,

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and test out the playback in the viewport.

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There are no limits to the number of cameras you can create and animate.

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Ultimately, each camera shot can be rendered and saved as a separate animation.

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You now have an interesting scene coming together, with animated cars and cameras.

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To bring it fully to life though, you need animated pedestrians.

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You will achieve that in the next movie by using the Populate tool.
Posted By
  • 3ds Max
  • 2015
  • Interoperability
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