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Harmony 11 - How to Setup a Scene and Animate Objects and the Camera

Learn how to set up a scene for animation using the superhero material. Start by adding a Camera view, and see how you can simulate camera movements by panning, rotating and zooming. Learn how to use various tools from the Advanced Animation toolbar for objects in your scene, and see how Harmony automatically calculates the movements for you.

Video Transcript

Welcome to the tutorial How to Setup a Scene and Animate Objects and the Camera. In this tutorial, I'm going to do just those things. Let's start with how to add a camera to our scene. You can do this in several different ways, the first way being by going to the Add Layer button, so this [+] sign here in the Timeline View and if you click on it and hold it down, you can select the first menu item, Camera. You can see here that a camera layer has been added to our scene, as well as here in the Network View. The second way that you can add a camera is by going to the Top Menu and selecting Insert > Camera. The third way is by going to the Module Library and by selecting the camera from either the Favourites tab, the Move tab or from the All Modules tab, where it's listed in alphabetical order. You need only to click and drag it, and then drop it into the Network View. If you would then like to change the perspective in our Camera View to one of these different cameras, you can go to the Top Menu and select Scene > Camera and it allows you to select which camera's perspective you would like to view in the Camera View. Let's delete two out of three of these cameras. I don't know if you noticed this, but when we added our first camera, the usual thin frame delineating the Camera View went from grey to pink. The fact that the Camera View is now pink means that it can be repositioned. Actually, let's select the Camera View to put the focus around it, which once again is this red line, and then use the keyboard shortcut [1] to zoom out. You can select the Camera View in two ways. You can select in the Camera View by clicking on the thin grey line that delineates the camera frame or you can, if we click off for a minute, select the layer in the Timeline View. In order to reposition this camera frame in the Camera View, you can use one of two advanced animation tools and that's either the Translate Tool or the Rotate Tool. Just in case I didn't mention it in a previous tutorial, you can also access those tools by going to the Animation Menu and selecting Tools and you can see that the advanced animation tools are listed here, as well as their keyboard shortcuts. In this case, the keyboard shortcut for the Translate Tool is [Option] + [2] and on Windows, it would be [Alt] + [2].

With the Translate Tool selected, you can grab this pink frame and then move it around. It looks like our background drawing and our figure is moving when in fact it's actually the camera frame that's being repositioned. You can also grab the Rotate Tool and do the same thing. As we rotate the camera frame, it appears as if what you see through the frame is what is getting rotated. Let's undo that and undo that again. Now that we know how to position the camera, let's talk about positioning an object. Let's use our hero character to do this. If we go to the Timeline View, we can click on this little [+] sign of the Hero Master group to show the Hero Master peg that's hidden just beneath. Then if we select the first frame in the Timeline and then select the Transform Tool, we can perform several different types of transformation on our character. Of course, we can move our character to either the left side or the right side of the Camera View. We can rotate our character. We could scale our character either by making him wider, so squashing him, or doing the opposite, making him thinner, so stretching him, or by holding down the [Shift] key and grabbing the corner to scale him uniformly. You can also skew your character by hovering your cursor over any of the bounding box borders and then by pulling in one direction or another. I don't know if you realized this as we were performing those transformations, but all of them are dependent on the placement of the character's pivot. In this case, our master peg's pivot, which I in fact have not yet set. It looks like it might be set because it looks like it's relatively in the centre of our character, but that's not actually the best place for it. While you're animating, you can always use the Transform Tool to temporarily move your pivot, so I could always drag this pivot point towards my character's feet and then perform a rotation from that point. But if you can see, the permanent pivot is still ghosted. You can see that it's still there and it still controls a lot of the movement, even when you temporarily place your pivot. For example, if I select this button here from the Tool Properties of the Transform Tool, which is to flip vertically, you'll see that our character was stilled flipped from its permanent pivot and not from its temporary pivot. Obviously, if it was flipped from the temporary pivot, which is down here, the entire character would have flipped out of the camera frame. In order to permanently reposition the pivot point for the master peg of our character, you have to actually select one of the tools from the Advanced Animation Toolbar, so usually either the Translate or the Rotation Tool work the best.

If I grab the Translate Tool and click on my master peg layer again, we'll see that the peg is highlighted with two arrows and what I'm going to do is move the peg to a point actually between my character's feet, so either here or here for example. I think I might actually use the bottom of his left foot and that seems to be, in general, the best place to put the pivot point for the entire character. Now if we go back to the Animation Tools Toolbar and select the Transform Tool and then we go to the Tool Properties panel and reselect that Flip Vertically, you'll see that our character now flips properly from that point, as well as being able to be scaled and rotated from that point. Now that we've gone over how to position an object in our scene, let's talk about how to animate a layer. What I did off camera is I went to the Stage Preferences or if you're using Windows, you would have gone to Edit > Preferences and from the Advanced tab, I re-enabled Element Module Animate Using Animation Tools Default Value. What this did is that when I created a new drawing layer by clicking on this button here, now my drawing layers appear with that [+] sign again, which we had eliminated in one of the previous tutorials. What that means, if we click on that [+] sign is that housed within our drawing layer and not just our peg is the ability to add key frames that house position, rotation, scale and skew information. I'm just going to delete that. What I did with the layer I created is that I copy and pasted the helmet's drawing, so both Drawing #1 and #2, on the first frame and then on the second frame, and then changed the timing in the X-sheet or the Data View so that it alternates between the first drawing and the second drawing. If you recall, the first drawing is the helmet in the three-quarter profile view and the second drawing is the helmet in the front view. We see that for about 60 frames. I'm actually just going to hide the Hero Master group, as I'm finding it a bit of a distraction.

The other thing that you could do is you can always double-click on the drawing layer and then under the Control tab, you can either select or deselect Animate Using Animation Tools. What we changed in the Preferences globally changes the way that drawing layers are created in our Timeline, either giving them the ability to be animated directly or by taking that away. But if you want to change that option just for a single drawing layer, you can do it in its Layer Properties. If I uncheck the Animate Using Animation Tools and then select Close, all of a sudden that [+] sign beside my helmet layer has disappeared. Now I cannot animate directly on this layer without adding a peg. However, as you notice, I can still change the drawings for that layer. I can still flip between Drawings #1 and #2. If there are more drawings than that, I could always flip between all of those drawings between different frames. However, in this case, I want to show you how to animate directly on a drawing layer. Let's double-click once again on our layer and then in the Layer Properties panel under the Control tab, let's recheck Animate Using Animation Tools and then click on the Close button. The first thing I'm going to do is make sure that my red playhead is on the first frame or actually, in this case, let's change it to the tenth frame just because we keep starting on the first frame. Let's add a key frame and you can either add a key frame or with the Animate mode on and the Transform Tool selected, if you make any type of a movement, a key frame will automatically be created. If I drag my helmet down here, a key frame would have appeared anyway because I just made some type of a transformation. Then what I'm going to do is scroll across to the 60th frame and then bring my helmet across to the other side and then let's actually rotate it a few times as well. You'll notice that a line has been created between key frame #1, which appears on Frame #10, and key frame #2, that appears on frame #60. If we take the playhead and then scroll across, you'll see that our helmet now looks like it's rolling and not only rolling, but flipping between the two drawings, and moving from left to right across our camera. If we scroll all the way to Frame #1, you'll see that there's a drawing change, which looks unrealistic obviously, but that whatever we key framed on frame #10 is almost like a frame hold. Even though there's no key frame on any of the frames between #1 and #9, they'll still hold the position of what's on frame #10, so that's being here on the lower left corner of the camera frame. In order to make this look more realistic, I could change the drawing here so that it doesn't change from Drawing #1 to Drawing #2 because there's no reason that a helmet would flip between two positions while standing still. At least here when it's rolling, it looks, let's deselect that for a minute, it looks natural that it would flip between two different poses as it's rolling. Once again, you can use these two little black arrows that you see in the Timeline to create a selection for playback. You can always grab these and then drag them to different points in the Timeline View to change the playback range. I'm going to keep it at 60 and then what you can do is drag your playhead to the start of your playback range, so in this case it's frame #1, and click on the Play button to see a preview of your animation. Of course you can press on the Loop button if you'd like to see that again and again. Let's stop that.

So two other things I'd like to mention about this is that you notice that interpolation was created between these two key frames and that's because I also had gone to the top and under the Animation Menu, I had deselected stop Motion Key Frame. There would have not been any interpolation created between the key frame on frame #10 and the key frame on frame #60. Because that was not checked, they assume that these are motion key frames and that interpolation is created. The other thing I wanted to show you is that if we click on the [+] sign again of the helmet layer, you'll notice that beside every possible transformation, so the position, x, y, z, the rotation angle, the scale, the skew, etc. there is a little curve. If you double-click on that curve, you'll notice that the Bezier Editor window opens. This allows you to edit the easing for that specific transformation, so the easing for the x-position would obviously be the easing from the helmet's movement from left to right across the screen. Of course, it's always best as well to have selected the range where the key frames are.

Now that we've taken a look at how to animate a drawing layer, let's take a look at how to animate the camera. I'm just going to collapse the helmet layer. The camera can be treated as any other element. You can use the same tools and selection modes to offset it and animate it. Although we've already gone over how to reposition the camera, we haven't gone over how to animate the camera. In order to do this, we need to add a peg to the camera. We can do this by selecting the camera layer in the Timeline View and then by clicking on this button here, the Add Peg button. This is the quickest and easiest way to add a peg, as the camera layer is automatically attached to the peg layer and that the parent peg layer takes on the name of its child, that being the camera, along with the suffix –P for peg. In order to animate the camera, it's actually very useful to bring up two other views. Let's go to the Top Menu under Windows and first select Side. As you can see, the Side View automatically appears in this section of the interface right here. Or we can go to the [+] button in the section just above and select Top in order to bring up the second view. It might be difficult to see, so I'm going to click in the Top View and use the keyboard shortcut [1] to zoom out. But this is actually the Top View or the view of our scene from the bird's eye perspective. This black line right here is this background layer and in fact, it's all of our elements because they're all currently on the same z-axis. None of them have been pushed back in space of forward in space, so they all look like one thin flat line. This, on the other hand, is the Side View. Let me do the same thing. Once again, this black line here are the elements of our scene. However, this time, we're looking at them from the side, so both from the top and the side, these would look like flat two-dimensional planes. You may notice that there are also arrows here. The blue arrow shows us the direction along the z-axis, so if we move the camera up or down this way, we're pushing it back in space or forward in space. That's the same here. If we move the apex of the camera cone right, all the scene elements will get bigger, or what's really happening is that the camera is closing in on those elements. The opposite is true is we move the camera left. The green arrow indicates the y-axis. If we move the camera up or down, the scene elements will appear to move in the opposite direction. The red arrow represents the x-axis. If we move the camera from left to right, we would see the objects enter and move from right to left, so once again the opposite direction in the camera frame. You may also notice that all of the visible elements are all the elements whose visibility is enabled here in the Timeline View, can be seen as elements in both the Side and the Top View.

With the Animate mode on and the Transform Tool selected, we can select the camera cone in the Top View and you can see that it's automatically highlighted in the Side View, as well as in the Camera View. Then we can move it forward and as you see here in the Camera View, now we're a lot closer to these buildings in the background. If I drag my playhead across, you can see that we've created a zoom-in. Of course, that doesn't just have to be a straight zoom-in. You can also grab the camera cone and pull it to the side or in the Side View, you can pull it upwards or downwards, so that when you create that zoom, it zooms into a specific part of the scene. It doesn't have to zoom straight in like that. That's it for the tutorial How to Setup a Scene and Animate Objects and the Camera. Stay tuned for the next tutorial, How to Create a Multiplane.