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Animate the camera

Capturing a series of camera locations is a straightforward way to animate the view. The camera can be positioned at a series of interesting viewpoints, and the various locations can be connected together to create an animation. There are three common modes for animating the camera in the view:

  • Fly-through — Navigate through a map or scene smoothly as if you are following a route or path.
  • Tour — Fixate on points of interest. Each destination typically has a Hold keyframe Hold Keyframe inserted to pause and observe it. Each transition is typically uses the Hop Hop type to emphasize zooming in to a location and zooming out to the next one.
  • Fly-around - Rotate around a key position in the scene to visualize it from all directions. This mode is well-suited to showcase a single location or feature in great detail.

It is helpful to know what type of experience you want to animate before you capture your keyframes, then choose the transition type between them. Animation transitions control the camera movement between keyframes.

Fly-through a map or scene

A fly-through animation simulates the camera moving through a map or scene and mimics what it is like to be physically present in the view. Examples include a 3D fly-though along a parade route or 2D panning along a proposed electrical transmission line path. A fly-through animation is usually best served by smooth curves between keyframes, using a fixed transition. In a few cases, the linear transition may work well, but be aware that this creates simulated bumps when the camera changes direction.

To add a fly-through to a map or scene, ensure the Animation tab is open. If necessary, click Add Animation Add Animation in the Animation group on the View tab. Then follow these steps:

  1. In the Create group, on the Animation tab, click the Append drop-down menu and verify that Fixed or Linear is the transition type.
  2. Navigate the camera to the first keyframe location.
  3. Click Append to create the first keyframe.

    The camera location is stored in the first keyframe at zero seconds. You can verify that the first keyframe was created by confirming the thumbnail appears on the Animation Timeline pane. You can also verify using the Keyframe List drop-down in the Edit group.

  4. Move the camera to the next location and click Append.

    The camera location is stored in the second keyframe at three seconds by default.

  5. Repeat step 4 until the 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 or the on-screen navigator to author a fly-through animation more effectively. For example, the B key combined with the arrow keys can be more accurate to look around from the current location than interactively using the mouse.
  • Additional settings for keyframes, such as Maintain Speed add keyframes that move the camera at a constant travel speed.

Tour

A tour animation is best authored using the hop transition type, which zooms 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.

To create a tour, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate the camera to the first keyframe location.
  2. Click Append to create the first keyframe.

    The camera location is now stored in the first keyframe at zero seconds. You can verify that the first keyframe was created by confirming the thumbnail appears on the Animation Timeline paneor by using the Keyframe List drop-down in the Edit group.

  3. Move the camera to the next location in the tour.
  4. Click the Append drop-down menu and choose Hop as the transition type.

    The Append button updates to show the new transition type. The transition type remains Hop until you choose another type.

  5. Click Append to create the next keyframe using the Hop transition type.

    You can adjust the height of the hop using the slider. Hop transition slider

  6. Repeat steps 3 and 5 until the tour is complete.
    Use the playback controls to either step through the keyframes one by one or play through the entire animation.
    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 a scene

A fly-around animation rotates around a key position in a scene to visualize it from all directions. It is well-suited to describe a single location in great detail. Examples include showing a proposed bridge or all the possible routes to scale a mountain peak. A fly-around animation can be created manually, keyframe by keyframe, or automatically, using the Import gallery. Choose from one of the four circle around tool options: Circle Left Around Center, Circle Right Around Center, Circle Left Around Selection, and Circle Right Around Selection.

A fly-around animation should be smooth and, therefore, usually requires the fixed transition type. Precise navigation is necessary when manually creating a smooth arcing camera path. Use keyboard shortcuts for navigation when possible to produce a smooth animation path more effectively.

To manually create a fly-around animation route, use the following steps:

  1. If necessary, in the Animation group, on the View tab, click Add Animation Add 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. Click Append to create the first keyframe. The camera location is now stored in the first keyframe at zero seconds.

    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.

  5. In the Create group, check Maintain Speed.
  6. 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 keyboard shortcuts for navigation are better suited here.
  7. Click Append to create the next keyframe.

    Each keyframe will be created with timing that ensures consistent camera travel speed.

  8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 to create the desired path.

    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.

To automatically create keyframes for a fly-around route, follow the steps below and use the circle-around tool options from the Import gallery list:

  1. Center the view using Ctrl+click on the desired location or feature.
  2. Ensure the camera perspective is tilted so that the view is not looking straight down or straight up.
  3. If your fly around requires a feature, select the feature(s).
  4. On the Animation tab, in the Create group, click Import.
  5. Select one of the four options:
    • Circle Left Around Center Circle Left Around Center
    • Circle Right Around Center Circle Right Around Center
    • Circle Left Around Selection Circle Left Around Selection
    • Circle Right Around Selection Circle Right Around Selection

    The keyframes are automatically created and appear in the Animation Timeline pane.

  6. Click Play Play to autoplay through the animation from the current keyframe to the last keyframe.

Keyframes that participate in a loop that were created using the circle-around options are easier to edit as a selected group of keyframes rather than individually. For example, to adjust the height of the loop path, select all of the keyframes and adjust the z-value on the Animation Properties pane. Use the circle-around options to also create a partial fly-around experience by deleting the part of the path you don't need.

Make the camera face an intended region of interest between two keyframes

When keyframes are separated by a large spatial distance, often the camera won't be pointing directly toward your intended point of interest. To fix this, move halfway between the keyframes and update the camera position. For example, if you want to change the direction of the camera angle between keyframe 1 and keyframe 2, type 1.5 in the Keyframe List in the Edit group on the Animation tab, and then press Enter. You can also drag the current time indicator (red vertical bar) along the Animation Timeline pane to an intermediate position between keyframes. Next, update the camera position by either recentering the camera (press Ctrl and left-click in the view) or controlling the rotation using keyboard shortcuts. For example, press the B key and use the left mouse button to look around from a pivot point. Or, press the V key in combination with the left and right arrow keys to rotate. When you have finished updating the view for this intermediate position, click the Update button Set Keyframe and the new keyframe is created between keyframes 1 and 2 with the adjusted rotation.

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