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Understanding One-Node vs. Two-Node Cameras In After Effects

Understanding One-Node vs. Two-Node Cameras In After Effects

One-node vs. two-node cameras. Which one should you use?

After Effects’ 3D camera is full of so many different capabilities to make your VFX look amazing. One aspect you should consider when working with the 3D camera is whether or not to use a one-node camera or a two-node camera.  

Today we’re going to quickly tackle this question with a few examples showing you how each one can be best utilized. Knowing which one is right for your project can save you time and also help you be more creative!

The key difference between a one-node camera and a two-node camera is quite simply a point of interest.

When Should I Use a Single-Node 3D Camera in After Effects?

A one-node camera operates like a physical camera in the real world. You can imagine it locked down on a tripod head or even attached to a dolly system. You can pan, tilt, zoom, all the usual stuff. You can also move along the x and y axis as if the camera is on a dolly or crane.
When your goal is to achieve a more organic look with simple controls, a one-node camera will be your best bet, and it’s especially useful for VFX compositing. You’ll use a one-node camera when you’re trying to capture what’s happening in the entire scene at once.

When compositing, it’s also a good idea to collaborate with your cinematographer so they can mark down each shot’s camera settings (focal length, shutter speed, f-stop, etc). This will allow you to create a 3D camera that’s as close to the original one as possible so that when you implement 3D lights, virtual camera movements, or other effects, they should respond more cohesively within the composition.
For general VFX compositing with 2D footage, more often than not you’ll probably want to go with the one-node camera. But that leads to the next question...

When Should I Use a Two-Node 3D Camera in After Effects?

A two-node camera fixates on a single point of interest.  This allows you to create cool orbiting shots around an object. This would be ideal for product shots, or staying with a 3D character that’s moving through a 3D environment.  

A two-node camera will serve you best when:
  • You have a point of interest that’s moving
  • You’d like to orbit in 3D space around a single object

New to After Effects’ 3D Camera?

There’s a lot to learn about After Effects’ 3D camera, and even if you’ve used After Effects for a while, there may be some cool 3D camera techniques you haven’t discovered yet.

The team at School of Motion put together an exceptional video that showcases all the major ins and outs of After Effects’ 3D camera.

You can also check out the video below for a deep look into how After Effects’ 3D camera works, as well as numerous great tips and tricks!
If you’ve got any tips you’d like to share on working with 3D cameras in After Effects, let us know in the comments!

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