Tips for using cameras in Blender animations

Tips for using cameras in Blender animations
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Blender

In Blender, cameras are used to capture scenes and each scene can have one or multiple cameras. Because the camera is such an important component, this post gives some tips about using cameras in Blender.

This is an ongoing post. Please suggest corrections, explanations, etc. in the comment section at the bottom of this page.

Apart from a light source and a basic cube, each new Blender file also opens with a camera object. The camera is used to determine the exact dimentions of what will be rendered. If there is only one camera in the scene, the (then only active) camera view can be toggled at any point by pressing the Numpad 0 key.

Setting a camera to the current view

While in camera view (see earlier), the camera might not show the scene correctly. There are a couple of ways to set the camera, but a simple, fast way is to set the camera to the current view. To do this, simply press the Ctrl + Alt + Numpad 0 keys while the camera is selected and the mouse pointer is in the 3D view area.

Adding multiple cameras

More cameras can be added to a scene by pressing the Shift + A keys while the mouse pointer is in the 3D View area. The camera can be renamed in the Outliner section to make it more descriptive.

To be able to use a specific camera, it needs to be set to the active camera. By simply changing the active camera from one to another, different cameras can be used one by one for renders. In addition to this, markers can be used on the animation timeline to view the scene from consecutive cameras at different times during the animation (see markers later).

To use a specific camera, but only that camera, the active camera can be chosen by selecting it and pressing the Ctrl + Numpad 0 keys. By pressing the Numpad 0 key that camera’s view will be active.

Using markers to change camera views

In Blender, markers can be used to indicate key points or significant events within an animation. It is very handy to indicate (or mark) a change in the active camera while in the viewing and/or rendering process. They also act as stepped keyframes, emaning they will change immediately from previous frame to the next frame (i.e. there is no interpolation). One or multiple markers can be used at different locations on the timeline and can be named to give an overview of what change is made.

Before a marker can be used, the camera that needs to be assigned to it needs to be created and named first (see adding multiple cameras earlier). To insert a marker, first go to the frame it needs to be inserted and then press the M key while the mouse pointer is in the Timeline View. Alternatively, it can be added by using the Marker menu – Add Marker. This will create a little triangle indicating that that frame has a marker assigned to it.

Markers can be selected and deselected as with everything else in Blender. It will be deselected while hovering over the Timeline View and pressing the A key, and clicking on it with the right mouse button will select it. By default markers will be called by the frame number they are situated at. Markers can also be given a descriptive name by pressing Ctrl + M buttons while the mouse pointer is in the Timeline view area.

Blender camera markers
The timeline view area of this scenes shows 3 markers (indicated as triangles at frame 1, 24 and 42). The middle marker is active and the first marker has a camera bound to it.

To bind a camera to a marker, it needs to be set to active camera first (see earlier). While the camera is active, select the desired marker and hit the the Ctrl + B keys while the mouse pointer is in the Timeline View. Alternatively the Bind Camera to Markers option under the View menu can be used. When a camera is bound, the line above the marker triangle will become dotted.

Change the camera view with viewport

In stead of working with a camera’s coordinates or moving out of the camera view, in some cases it might be  easier to simply lock the camera to the current active view. The setting for this is under the Properties panel (visible by either pressing the M button while in the the mouse pointer is in the 3D view area or by clicking on the + at the top right of the 3D view window).

Blender Lock Camera to View
The Lock Camera to View setting is under the Properties panel.

By checking/unchecking the Lock Camera to View setting, the camera can be moved around while in the Camera view.

Using common camera resolutions

Most viewing devices these days have screens that are capable of viewing fairly high resolutions. Blender can render at the exact dimention and/or resolution that you might need for your project. For this the camera settings are used.

The dimentions and resolutions settings are situated under the Render tab in the Dimentions section. Common resolutions can be selected from the Render Presets drop-down list. Custom X and Y values can also be dialed in. The percentage bar below the X and Y values are used as a percentage multiplyer to scale the resolutions down. 50% will halve it, and 100% will render at the full resolution. Values for common resolutions:

  • 720p – 1280px x 720px
  • 1080p – 1920px x 1080px
  • 4k – 3840px x 2160px

These are the common and/or recommended resolutions used for the following platforms:

  • Facebook – 720p or 1080p for video and 940px x 512px for post images
  • Twitter – 720p or 1080p for video and 1200px x 675px for tweet images
  • YouTube – 720p, 1080p, 4K
  • Pinterest – 1000px x 1000/1500px
  • Flickr – 1080p
  • WhatsApp – 176px x 144px for video

Using Composition Guides

Blender makes it easy to create better compositions by using their composition guides. Multiple pre-set composite guides are available under the Display settings under the settings of the active camera properties.

Blender Composite Guides

Each camera can have its own, single or multiple guides activated. Guide lines will not interfere with rendering.

About the author
Renier busies himself with improving his English writing, creative web design and his websites, photoshopping, micro-electronics, multiple genres of music, superhero movies and badass series.
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