Controlling IPO curves for camera animation is quite challenging for me. I often want to dolly the camera closer to an object but in the f-curve editor I end up needing to control two separate curves for this move (usually x and y). I have noticed that I can get a very nice single z-curve for this move if I parent the camera to another object (this makes all the curves for the child local), but here's the part I can't seem to solve:

I would like the parent object to follow the camera location, so that the pivot point for the camera rotation would always stay the same. At the moment the rotation pivot changes based on the locational relationship between the camera and the parent object. I know this creates a loop in the parent relationship and that's why I can't seem to solve it. I tried to do the parenting with two "child of" constraints so that the camera would follow only the rotation of the cube and the cube would follow only the location of the camera, but that setup doesn't update "live" but only after I move the playhead, which makes accurate editing very difficult.

Is there any way of getting to enjoy local animation curves for the camera while keeping the pivot point of it consistent?

Edit: I attached a file which demonstrates a nice single curve for the camera dolly. This is the setup I would like to use if only there would be a way to keep the pivot point consistent: http://we.tl/2VtpIqdKo8

  • $\begingroup$ Why can't you just control the rotation with the parent instead? Seems much simpler. Just think of the 2 objects combined as a camera rig. The parent object is the tripod, and the camera moving along the local z axis is the zoom lens. Additionally you could limit the movement of the camera to only local Z axis, and do all other movements with parent object. The Limit Location constraint set to Local Space works well for that. $\endgroup$ Jun 19 '15 at 20:57
  • $\begingroup$ Todd, what you described is exactly what I'm trying to do. The problem with it is that when I then "zoom" (or dolly) the camera, the distance of the camera in relation to the "tripod" changes and thus the pivot point of the rotation changes as well. The problem becomes more evident when the camera has travelled far away from the "tripod" -the arcs of rotation will be huge. This is exactly the problem I'm trying to solve! $\endgroup$
    – Antti
    Jun 19 '15 at 21:26
  • $\begingroup$ Well you could set up a 2 empty rig, where the second empty is parented to the first. The second empty has a Limit Location so it only moves on one axis (your dolly axis). Then the camera is parented to the second empty. You can constrain the camera location completely. Then you would be able to rotate the camera directly (for small rotations), or the first empty (for large rotations). If we were to compare this to a real world camera, you probably wouldn't make large rotations with the camera if you were greatly zoomed in with the lens (I know that's different than a dolly move). $\endgroup$ Jun 19 '15 at 22:10
  • $\begingroup$ With the 2 empty rig, you could actually not have an constraints on the camera, and it could move location and rotation, but it would still be moved in and out with the dolly axis of the second empty. $\endgroup$ Jun 19 '15 at 22:11
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure if what you suggested solves the pivot point problem though: If I move the second empty (which is the child of the first empty), then the distance (and thus pivot point between the rotating first empty and the camera) changes again, right? $\endgroup$
    – Antti
    Jun 19 '15 at 22:15

You could use the Follow Path constraint to do it the way you want.

Here is the procedure:

  • First, create a Bezier Curve, and place it along the object's local Z axis (in your exemple, the Cube).
  • Next, reset the camera position (ALT G)
  • Then add a Follow Path constraint to the camera, select the "BezierCurve" for the Target, and tick Follow Curve, as well as Fixed Position. Choose -Z "Forward axis" and Y for "Up axis".
  • Finally, parent the curve to the object.

enter image description here

The camera is now dependant of the position and rotation of the object (the cube), but you keep the ability to rotate the camera freely, while the animation curve is a single control: the Offset setting in the Follow Path constraint panel of the camera.

And, even better, when you reset the rotation of the camera, it should always points towards the object!

Here is the result:

enter image description here


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