Movie Making on a Short Deadline

By: Ed Gee
If you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to make a movie, but don’t have hardly any time to spend on it, this is a solution for you. Even if you have never made a movie before, following this method will give you a highly usable result.

Open your Camera Control panel and create a NEW camera path. Then go to the first point in your scenario where you want your movie to start and mouse around until you’re satisfied with what you are looking at. Click ADD, under Keyframes on the Camera Control panel.

Now go to the last point in your scenario, where you want you’re movie to end. Mouse around some more until you are satisfied with that view and, once again, click ADD. Nothing exciting has happened yet. This is exactly how you start making any movie.

The camera path you now have is a straight line. In some cases, this is all you need. More often than not, however, there are highlights between the beginning and the end that you want to show. So go ahead and ADD a few key frames between the beginning and the end. Space the points evenly, but don’t try too hard.

After you have finished, you will see that STK has connected them together with splines.

This can be very nice, if that’s what you want, assuming you know how to get them to behave, and you have the time to do it. In some cases, your camera path may look quite reasonable, needing little adjustment. In other situations, there might be an extreme difference between two keyframes, where a spline becomes the shape of a sine wave. I hate it when that happens.

No matter how bad your camera path may look when you first make it; it can easily be fixed in a matter of minutes. All you have to do is break the spline. Here’s the trick.

To break a spline, you need to create two identical keyframes a fraction of a time step apart. This forces the keyframe that comes first to end as a straight line and the keyframe that comes second to begin as a straight line. This is the procedure:
  1. Make sure Follow Path is disabled.
  2. Double-click a keyframe (not the first or last).
  3. Advance the clock by 1/10 of the current time step or less.
  4. Click Add under Keyframes in the Camera Control panel.

Perform this action for all keyframes of interest. Do not perform this action on the first or last keyframe. When you finish, you will see that STK has now connected the keyframes together as straight lines. As you play your scenario, notice the camera motion as it approaches one of these keyframes. It slows down, as it approaches, and speeds up as it moves past a keyframe. This can be useful when it is desirable to place emphasis on a given scene as your movie plays.

Most of the time, you won’t find it necessary to break all the splines. Maybe it’s just one. Never let a bad spline get in the way of making your movie.
Posted: 6/9/2017 9:05:47 PM