This is a little hard to put into words, so please bear with me.
I'm building a camera rig. I need the camera to be able to orbit around an object, as if it were on a circular track, then move away from that object and then pan. Here is an example of the kind of motion I'm after:
The problem with the motion in the example is that the camera is initially rotating around an empty to which it is parented (the black circle) but then when it rotates around its own axis, it leaves the empty behind, and so will never be able to orbit again. Essentially I want to be able to choose whether the camera rotates around the empty or the empty rotates around the camera at any given time and then animate back and forth between these two possibilities.
The final rig will be using bones and constraints to allow for crane shots and the like, so a solution doesn't need to just rely on the relationship between camera and empty.