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Animate the camera

Capturing a series of camera locations is one of the easiest way to animate the view. The camera can be positioned at a series of interesting viewpoints, and the various locations can be connected together by way of an animation. The following are the three common use cases for animating the camera in a view:

  • Fly-through
  • Tour
  • Fly-around

Fly-through a 2D or 3D map

A fly-through animation simulates the camera moving through a map or scene and is well-suited for communicating what it would be like to be physically present within the view. For example, a fly-though along a parade route in 3D, or panning along a proposed electrical transmission line path in 2D. A fly-through animation is usually best served by smooth curves between keyframes, which means the best transition type to use is fixed. In a few cases, the linear option may also work well, but be aware that this will create simulated bumps when the camera changes direction.

Make sure the Animation tab is open to begin. If necessary, click Add Animation Build Animation in the Animation group on the View tab.

  1. In the Create group, on the Animation tab, click the Append drop-down menu and verify that Fixed or Linear is the chosen transition type.
  2. Navigate the camera to the first keyframe location.
  3. Click Append to create the first keyframe.
  4. The camera location is stored in the first keyframe at zero seconds.
    You can verify that the first keyframe was created by checking the Keyframe List drop-down in the Edit group.
  5. Move the camera to the next location and click Append.
  6. The camera location is stored in the second keyframe at three seconds by default.
  7. Repeat step 4 until your fly-through path is complete.
    Use the playback controls to either step through the keyframes one by one or play through the entire animation.
Tip:
  • Use navigation keyboard shortcuts to author a fly-through animation more effectively. For example, the B key and the arrow keys can be more accurate than interactively using the mouse.
  • Use the Maintain Speed option to add keyframes that will move the camera at a constant travel speed.

Tour

A tour animation is best authored using the hop transition type, which will zoom in to each location and out again on its way to the next point of interest. A tour can be closely spaced, such as hopping across building rooftops, or large scale, such as visiting various interesting places across the globe.

  1. Navigate the camera to the first keyframe location.
  2. Click Append to create the first keyframe.
  3. The camera location is now stored in the first keyframe at zero seconds.

    You can verify that the first keyframe was created by checking the Keyframe List drop-down in the Edit group.
  4. Move the camera to the next location in the tour.
  5. Click the Append drop-down menu and choose Hop as the transition type.
  6. The Append button updates to show the new transition type. It will stay as Hop until you choose another type.
  7. Click Append to create the next keyframe using the Hop transition type.
  8. You can adjust the height of the hop using the slider.
    Hop transition slider
  9. Repeat steps 3 and 5 until your tour is complete.
    Use the playback controls to either step through the keyframes one by one or play through the entire animation.
  10. Animation using Hop transition
    Animation using Hop transition to tour five cities across the United States.
Tip:

Click the Path button in the Display group on the Animation tab to get visual feedback of the hop height.

Fly around a location in 3D

A fly-around animation rotates around a key position in the 3D view to visualize it from all directions and is well-suited to describe a single location in great detail. For example, showing a proposed bridge or all the possible routes to scale a mountain peak.

A fly-around animation must be smooth and, therefore, usually requires the fixed transition type.

  1. If necessary, in the Animation group, on the View tab, click Add Animation Build Animation to start a new animation and show the Animation tab.
  2. Navigate the camera to the first keyframe location.
  3. To center the desired location in the view, press Ctrl and click the object or location of interest.
  4. Precise navigation is necessary when creating a smooth arcing camera path.
  5. Click Append to create the first keyframe. The camera location is now stored in the first keyframe at zero seconds.
  6. It is best to use the same on-screen center point in each successive keyframe to capture a smooth flight path. Select a reference point on the object or location that is easily recognizable as you rotate the view.
  7. In the Create group, check Maintain Travel Speed.
  8. Use the V key in combination with the arrow keys to rotate the view a few degrees. You can also use the middle mouse button to pivot, but the precision of the keyboard shortcuts for navigation will usually create a more effective result.
  9. Click Append to create the next keyframe.
  10. Each keyframe will be created with timing that ensures consistent camera travel speed.
  11. Repeat steps 6 and 7 to create the desired arc.
  12. You can create a full circle or partial circle for your fly-around animation.
    Use the playback controls to either step through the keyframes one by one or play through the entire animation
    Partial camera fly-around
    A partial fly-around animation path.