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Animate Pro: A Huge Advance for the Multi-plane Camera

When Animate Pro came out this past year, I was ecstatic. For years, I have been dying for an advance to the multi-plane camera that existed in “Studio,” “Solo,” and then “Digital Pro.” In short, the multi-plane camera in these programs allowed a lot of special effects, but did not allow you to rotate a camera or plane of drawing in the in the X or Y axis. This created a lot of trouble when you wanted to create a flat floor or ceiling in your drawings. You had to do workarounds that tended to “break” or look bad if you were not careful with your camera positions.

This past summer, near our home in Fredericksburg, Virginia, a huge community battle between developers and preservationists erupted over the future of a famous Civil War Battlefield. It took on national dimensions as famous actors and history groups joined in the battle. I wanted to add an animation to the public discussion and went to work.

Basically, the animation would start with a close up that gives the impression of being on-site at a historic and exciting scene. Then, one of the tour group members would ask an awkward question as the camera pulls back in such a way as to totally destroy the atmosphere of the moment, revealing they are actually standing in a massive big-box superstore.

I wanted to create layers of shelving and shoppers crisscrossing in the background that were revealed as the camera pulled back. This proved more challenging than expected with the tools in “Digital Pro.” Strange shifting artifacts appeared in the flooring and walls. It looked horrible. I might be able to fake it if I was really, really careful about camera movement, but any slight last minute tweaking of the camera destroyed the scene. The tools were simply not designed to do what I wanted. I gave up.

Then, “Animate Pro” came out. This program allows the pivoting you cannot do in “Studio” or “Digital Pro.” I was able to quickly learn the new gadgets and release the commercial. I really like the technique. This is a very powerful new program feature.

By the way, the Orange County Board of Supervisors decided history would be best served by paving over the site. Oh, well. So much for animated humor swaying public officials….. Maybe if “Animate Pro” had only come out a few months earlier. Hmmm….

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