What are Camera Objects?
A camera object is a type of layer that lets you choose which part of your composition will be shown when rendering. Camera objects can also simulate depth, focus blur, and fog. You can determine a camera object’s size, position, and rotation, as well as animate these properties using keyframes to create dynamic scenes. You can create a project with multiple camera objects and cut between them, parent layers to camera objects to create overlays, parent cameras to other layers to track their motion, add motion effects to camera objects to simulate realistic movement, and more.
How to add a Camera Object
On iPhone or Android, tap the Add Layer button, then go to the Object tab and tap Camera.
On iPad, go to the Object tab, and then tap Camera.
Note: It’s easier to see what a camera does if you have a few layers in your project before adding the camera.
Viewing through the Camera with Active Camera View
When you first add a camera, you will just see the camera’s wireframe, because you are still in the default view for the project. If you try moving the camera’s position, only the wireframe will move.
Left: Active Camera View is off.
Right: Active Camera View is on.
To see through the camera, tap the Active Camera View button in the View Options panel. Now when you try moving the camera’s position again, you will see it pan around the entire project in the preview area.
Active Camera View Button Location within the View Options Panel (Android & iPhone)
Active Camera View Button Location (iPad)
You can switch between the Active Camera View and the default view any time. This controls only what you see in the preview area and does not affect your exported project.
In addition to panning around horizontally and vertically on the X and Y axes, you can move cameras forward and backward on the Z axis, as well as animate with keyframes on all three axes. Moving a camera on the Z axis changes its distance from other layers. By setting other layers at different Z coordinates, you can move the camera forward or backward to create the impression of moving through 3D space, and you can pan the camera to create a parallax scrolling effect.
Zoom Distance / View Angle
These properties are related, and changing one will cause the other to change.
- The zoom distance is the distance from the camera at which a layer the same size as the project will fill the screen. The larger this is, the more the camera is zoomed in.
For example, if you have a 1080p project and a camera with a zoom of 1000, a layer 1080 pixels high that is 1000 pixels away from the camera will exactly fill the screen vertically.
- The view angle determines how much of the project the camera can see. This is the angle along the long dimension of the project. For example, in a portrait project, this is the number of degrees vertically that the camera can see. In a landscape project, this would be the number of degrees horizontally that the camera can see. Combined with the project’s aspect ratio, this defines the field of view of the camera.
These properties are related because when you zoom in on a project, you are viewing a smaller part of it, and therefore the view angle decreases. This also means the camera wireframe will appear to decrease in size, because the wireframe represents the amount of the project at the Z=0 plane visible to the camera.
Camera objects do not have a scale property.
When you pinch in the preview or adjust the scale in Move & Transform, the camera’s View Angle and Zoom Distance are actually being adjusted.
In many cases this may not be what you want. If you want a feeling of depth and have layers at different distances from the camera, you probably want to change the camera’s Z coordinate in the Location tab in Move & Transform, rather than adjusting the view angle or zoom distance.
The numbers shown in the Scale tab represent the width and height of the wireframe, or put another way, the dimensions of the part of the project at the Z=0 plane that are visible to the camera based on the current View Angle and Zoom Distance settings.
Although this behavior seems very similar to what happens when you scale a normal layer, there is an important distinction: Effects that operate on a layer’s scale, such as Pulse Size, will not affect camera layers, and cameras with parent connections are unaffected by the parent layer’s scale.
Focus blur adds a blur effect to layers outside a defined range of focus. After turning on focus blur, three settings can be adjusted:
- Focus distance determines the distance at which the camera is focused. Since camera objects can currently only look forward, this means the distance along the Z axis at which the camera is focused.
- Depth of field is the range around the focus distance that will be in focus.
- Blur strength is the degree of blur for out-of-focus layers.
All three settings are relative to the position of the camera, so if you move the camera forward or backwards, different layers will move into or out of focus as they pass through the focus distance.
Enabling fog causes the camera to simulate a hazy cloud that envelops the layers within and behind it. There are three settings that can be adjusted.
- Color is the color of the fog.
- Near distance is the boundary of the fog closest to the camera. Layers that are closer to the camera than the near distance value are in front of the fog and fully visible.
- Far distance is the distant boundary of the fog. Layers within the range of the near distance and far distance are partially obscured by the fog. Layers that are farther from the camera than the far distance value are completely obscured.
As with focus blur, the fog settings are relative to the camera position. Moving the camera forward or backwards will cause layers in the scene to move into or out of the region between the near and far fog distances.
Active Camera / Default Camera / Multiple Cameras
You can add multiple cameras to cut to different views in a scene. Whichever camera object is presently highest on the timeline is the active camera, and whichever camera object is lowest is the default camera.
The project will always render the view from whichever camera is active. Turning off the visibility of an active camera will disable its function, and the next highest camera present on the timeline becomes active.
If no other camera is present on the timeline, the default camera will become active. Notice that the default camera extends infinitely in either direction on the timeline.
Adding Effects to Cameras
Adding Motion Blur to a camera is the same as adding it individually to each layer visible to the camera: the layers will have motion blur applied based on both the movement of the camera, and their own movement. Because motion blur can be quite a heavy effect, this can be a convenient way to manage motion blur for your whole scene in one place, turning it off for better performance while editing, and turning it on for better quality when exporting and sharing.
Other effects that change a camera’s position and transform properties, like Auto-Shake and Oscillate, can be used to simulate realistic movement. Note that effects that alter a layer’s scale do not affect cameras.
Effects that can be applied to camera objects can be found by looking for the Camera tag in the Effect Browser.
Parenting with Cameras
Parenting a layer to a camera causes it to follow the camera’s motion. This can be useful for overlays and heads-up displays, such as a camcorder’s viewfinder, or a moving train’s window. This can also be useful for overlays that should remain fixed in place even while the camera moves, such as subtitles or captions.
Similarly, cameras can themselves be parented to other layers, causing them to follow the movement of whatever layer they are parented to.