After Effects Tutorial – Pixel-Perfect Camera Move Transitions

May 7, 2009

Rashad sent in a question asking how to fly a camera around in After Effects and land on full frame video. To make these moves land on pixel-perfect, full-frame video can be tricky. This technique should help keep your camera moves and transitions accurate and ready for a perfect edit.

Tutorial Focus:  ,

  • nice tips 😉
    Nice face at the end ^^ xD

  • Thanks…great tip! This will come in very handy.

    Along those lines – A great (free) plug-in I have found is “Sure Target” which can be found over at – this allows you to set up multiple targets and easily keyframe in between them. Also allows for shake/easing/auto rotate as well. BUT… it won’t give you the “pixel perfect” move shown here without tweaking anchor points, etc.

  • Love you work! On this one though wouldn’t it be easier to parent to you camera as you do, then move you camera to the final postion and then just copy and paste the position and rotation of the ‘attached’ clip to the ‘mug’ clip.(it should the occupy the exact same postion. you can then move you camera again to a new position, and copy and paste new clip position to another clip. Repeat as often as you like then delete attached clip. I’m new to all this so just checking my idea works 😉 (I probably made that sound a lot more complciated that it is)


  • damnitboy!
    that is so smart. you had me at “parent (invisible) balloon layer”…..
    thank you, yet again nIck.

    these tips are SO helpful!!

  • Nice. Simple and helpful!

  • Sweet tutorial as always, but here’s an even easier way to accomplish what you need and more for free, Enjoy!!

  • helpful like allways!!

  • Really cool and usefull tips dude ! thanks 🙂

  • Chris: That will work too for sure. The reason I set up the scene first is to get the look and design of the scene right before I worry about the technical aspects.

  • Nice and nifty Trick!

  • oh, your last photo is one of the best photos ive seen. its just AMAZING

  • thanks for the tutorial nick! useful as always dude, u rock!

    btw: could you do some lighting in cinema4d tutorials? to achieve sth like this? im sure it will helpful for a lot of people around here.

    ps: my dream is work in DK haha

  • I love these sort of simple but ingenious solutions! Thanks.

  • @Casko The studio lighting setup is pretty much shown in the PSDTUTS preview of the paid tut. Si it shouldnt be too hard to recreate. Maybe also take a peek on this site at the Ambilight and Arealight CStools tutorials.

  • Excelent! You surprise me with the parent-to-camera thing. Thanks for sharing this with us!

  • heerko i tried that but i cant get optimal results, ill keep trying

    btw your website and works are amazing, really loved it, what 3d app are you using?

    nick, check out my portfolio tell me what ya think!

  • @Deoese , ya somos 2 los argentos 😛

  • That was good, I like the webcam bit at the start aswell. Even the best tutes don’t treat their screen casts as though they can contain any other media, it’s nice not to stare at a stationary AE work space whilst the author absent-mindedly moves the cursor around on the screen, explaining what they’re about to do. This is my first time on here and I’ll definitely be a regular over the coming months. Great stuff!

  • Nice tip. I use Sure Target from Video Copilot as well, however I’m sure this will come in handy somewhere down the line.

  • OMG. I was totally trying to do this on Tuesday under deadline pressure with my boss standing over my shoulder. I came up with another solution, but I am SOOOOOO grateful you posted this. Your blog rocks. Thanks, man!

  • first of all thanks nick for these great turotials – they really get me in to practicing after effects. thanks for that!

    nevertheless, i got a problem: i created a new project, which was 5 seconds long. i put in a few pictures and a camera and started setting keyframes. after a while i thought it might be better to stretch the projects length to 10 seconds. now here’s the thing.

    after i stretched it the camera seems to be disabled after exactly 5 seconds. all pictures disappear and there is just black. i tried to grab the end of the camera layer and extend it to 10 seconds. but this did not help. after 5 seconds everything is just black and you don’t see any camera movement or pictures.

    i already did some google research but i wasn’t successful. i would be very glad if someone could help me out!

    thanks it advance,


    That’s the result of working around midnight. I extended the camera layer to 10 seconds but I forgot to do the same with the picture layers. No wonder they kept on disappearing after 5 sec’s. Pardon me! Have a nice day and hopefully a clear brain! 🙂

  • It’s me again 😉
    What’s better, editing the movement of the camera itself or connecting it to a null object?

  • Really great tip! I never would have thought to do it, but halfway through the tutorial I was all “DOY! I KNOW WHERE HE’S GOING WITH THIS!” Thanks Nick!

  • @Casko: Thnx! 🙂 I use Cinema 4D for my projects.

  • Zippo: I’m not a fan of animating cameras with nulls. I know a ton of people who do though.

  • Thanks for your response! I think I’ll just try both ways so that I can see which one is more comfortable.

  • Charles Giltner June 18, 2009 at 6:03 am

    Just watched the Pixel perfect camera moves tutorial and was impressed with the advances in AE since my last professional gig. I am hoping to get back into a position working in the editing/composition field, but where I live there are seemingly not many positions that I can root out. I live in Southwest Florida (Venice, Sarasota FL) and wanted to know how to find this type of work without relying on the failed and true job sites to find a position the my skills can match. It has been years since my work with broadcast news in this area the the job ended poorly. I got out of video and into other fields and now I am at a loss as to how well I can slide back in. Any tips? I don’t have the hardware or software to work from home, but might be willing to relocate for an opportunity. The real question:
    How can a rusty video composer find re-entry to the job market without contacts or job leads? How can I market myself with my skill set rusty, but still viable with the right restart curve? BTW, great tut, keep them coming…first time here with a link from Studio email.thx

  • nice one fella!

  • Nick, great stuff here. I have a question for you. The technique you’ve demonstrated for pixel-perfect camera moves is great, but I’ve run into an interesting limitation and wanted to see if you might help me around it before I pull out my hair. Let’s see if I can explain this clearly. I’ve created a large funky composition in Illustrator. It’s full of cool vectors, titles, etc. that pertain to a video I’m cutting. The idea is to import the fully layered file into AE and use it as a transition element as I go from one video to the next in FCP. I’m exporting footage to be used in each transition cut from FCP and then importing it into AE, placing it into the context of the large AI comp in a new AE comp, moving my camera around, etc. and finally settling on a new space in the comp where my second video will begin. Make sense so far? Here’s the problem. When I zoom in far enough to my continuously rasterized AE comp to hit the spots where my videos are positioned next to all of my graphics, the camera’s focal point is already behind the AI comp and subsequently, so is the cam parented solid that I want to replace with actual video. I hope this isn’t too convoluted. If you’d like, I can send you a sample to illustrate the problem.


    • Hmm, maybe a project file would help. I would start by trying different focal lengths for your camera. It may be that to make these layers full frame, you have to zoom in too far?
      Try a wider angle lens on the AE camera. Maybe a 28mm?

  • Hi!
    Great Tip and really easy.
    BUT I’m searching for the exact some thing for Cinema 4D! I have an Animation and at the end the camera should focus on a objebt with a videotexture on it so I can make a transition to the “real” video.


  • Such simple solution to a huge pain the ass. I been doing motion graphics for a while now and you videos are amazing. they make my life better.


  • I noticed that you snapped the orientation while turning the coffee layer. How did you do that?

  • Hey, thanks so much for the information! Learnt a lot 🙂

    If I may pose a question, you mentioned to ‘Zippo’ you are not a fan of using a null for camera movements.

    ANy particular reason? I find using null makes camera animation much more smoother since I just have a guide of where the camera is looking at and where it’s positioned. But I’m a total noob so your point may just ‘null’ify my point. haha

    God bless!

  • Hi. Thank you for sharing your information with us. I appreciate it.Would u please tell me how to make professional Animations in after effects?
    You also are a funny guy 😉

    • Making “professional animations” isn’t a tutorial. It comes with years of practice. Start to learn and give yourself projects. You will see your skills get better and better. Thanks for watching. Glad I make you laugh!

  • Hi Nick,

    Your tutorials have what most other ones lack, taste. I hope more educators take some cues from you and stop producing such boring and impractical garbage.

    Thanks for your generosity


  • Nice One!
    I like the way you think, didn’t come up with this 🙂

    But now, I had 2 comps. 1 with particular and 3d layers. The second had also 3d layers and a camera.

    I’m trying to combine this 2 to one comp.
    But the 3d layers had to be pixel perfect (they are layer emitters).

    So first I have to align them again with the camera. For that, I’m using layer-transform-center in view. And after that, rotating and rotating until its fits, and then, link to camera.

    Do you have a better and more accurate way to do this?

  • Hey Nick u da best , thanks for this and for other tutorials , im waiting for more AE & C4D Tuts . Thanks thanks thanks 😉

  • Great tut! Many thanks for sharing skills 🙂

  • Simple solution yet very effective, good job! I will definitely try this one.

  • Thanks man. Great tutorial, save me HOURS and hours of trying yo figure it out myself.

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