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Camera Rig


camerariglogoSebastian Pelan is working on a setup to make Blender camera manipulation more intuitive for filmmakers.

Sebastian wrote:

Hello everyone!

I come from the world of filmmaking but I've been using Blender for years (I can't remember how many, but I know it was not even open source then).

Anyway, today my filmmaking mind started thinking about an interesting point: Blender's camera usually moves really differently than a "real world camera". It's difficult to make it move as a "real" camera without with keyframing, and even making it follow a path doesn't help much.

So I came up with a rig that tries to simulate a real camera jib (or crane). It's not perfect yet, but it's usable. I plan to work on it even more to make it perfect, but I'd like to share it with you guys anyway.

Enjoy! ;)


About the Author

Avatar image for Bart Veldhuizen
Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.


  1. This is great! Indeed, without something like this it's really difficult to get anything like realistic cinematic camera moves. This looks like it will be a big help.

  2. Thanks for the nice comments guys. I really appreciate that :) As you'll see the rig is pretty simple and even a bit buggy right now, but I'm already working on the next version. If you happen to use it for something nice, let me know, I'd really like to see how it's being used :)

    Thanks again,


  3. I'm retired fron the industry also and this is a GREAT idea. Of course now you have to invent a dolly grip, two electricians and a craft service guy...

  4. Hopefully in 2.5 they'll also incorporate an effective film back and (therefore) more accurate optics...

  5. Apart of look - how that suppose to actually help in anything? :/ Instead of move camera you will move crane? And? I dont get idea behind it.

  6. @ Nezumi:

    using this rig as one would a real film camera setup allows you to get a more realistic feel in it's animation ... as if the scene were filmed in real life, and not by a totally free (unconstrained) virtual camera as in 3D software.

  7. Couple this with real-time motion recording (puppetry) in 2.5 and you'll have something very cool. Someone familiar with the way that you work a real camera on a set will be able to set their scene, hit Play, then control (and record the motion of) the camera rig in realtime during animation playback for some ultra-realistic camera motion.

  8. harkyman: that's a great idea. I didn't know there's gonna be real time motion recording in 2.5, whoa! Now, I hope I'll find an easy way (I guess I'll need some help from a programmer) to make the rig controllable with a 3d connexion 3D mouse and it's gonna be like controlling a real jib! :D

  9. Nice, but can you control a REAL Panavision cam with it too??
    There's a plugin for maya that can! ;-))
    You see, nothing new!!

  10. No offense, but to have a totally free cam in 3D is one of the thing that makes animation movies different from real movies. It allows some moves you can't do in real life, and leads to a new way of film direction. I think we better have to write new rules when making animation movies, we have some freedoms we don't have in real life, yet new constraints too.

    Of course it's an extreme point of view, but I'm not sure we don't need to copy a real rig to move a 3D camera. You'll have to keyframe your crane anyway, which is divided in four parts, so four objects to keyframe. Is it less annoying than keyframing one cam ?

  11. Flubbi: If you get me a Panavision camera to play with, I'm sure I could find a way to control it with Python ;)

    Nicolas: I agree, having a totally free cam is what makes animation different. But what if you DON'T want it to be different? What if you actually WANT those "real life" constraints? That's where my rig tries to help.

    Also, I didn't say the 3D camera is bad because you have to keyframe it, I just said it's almost impossible to get cinematic moves done with keyframing.

    Anyway, it's a quite subjective matter, I completely understand your opinion, even though I don't agree :)

  12. I have a similar setup on startup, however I dont see the need to have actual "objects" in the scene, that is just unused and unwanted poly counts that you will never see. Not bad though and actually the concept itself is awesome, if you just use bones instead of objects you'll get the same result without adding the polycount at all.

  13. >>that is just unused and unwanted poly counts that you will never see.<<

    Aren't invisible poly's ignored in computations? Besides, how many "real-world" cameras are you going to have in a scene.

  14. Flubbi: Nothing new? They have a Maya plugin that can let you control a camera's movement in Blender using a Panaivision Camera?

    It's a blender development, the main software covered at Blendernation. Sorry if it's not covering the aspect of Maya well enough for you.

  15. I see this camera rig can be useful, specially to mimic real cameras in compositing. But for animators, I see it can be annoying. And also, I found the rig is full of unnecessary constraints, among other details like, the center is positioned wrong, or some parts of the rig just doesn't work (at least for me). A good idea though.

  16. that's neat! I've been making my own simple rigs to do similar stuff. Never did a visually nice one, normally just a few stretched cubes with the camera attached & an end.

  17. Arterial Tree on

    This is great and I hope you continue to develop it further. I come from a live-action film background and have only recently started dabbling in animation, so for me, this tool is incredibly useful. Many many thanks for making it available.

  18. I'm not coming from a filmmakers background so this idea might be dumb:

    If you could add some sensors to the real hinges of the (real) crane, you could record the angles and import these to the above mentioned rig. You should be done with motion-matching in no time.

    But.... you would need quite a few sensors.

  19. Salvaman: That's why it's version 0.1 and not 1.0 :D It still needs a lot of polishing :)

    Christian: Actually, not that many. 4 rotation sensors would be enough, I suppose... it's a nice idea :)

  20. yeah, but I correct it like in 20 minutes and have it all ready, cleaner and simpler. I don't get why it wasn made like the one I ended up with. by the way I'll upload it soon. :-)

  21. Why Salvaman, you must be a genius. Please upload asap. And thanks for doing it right, this time. You rule.

  22. @Sebastian
    This is great! Thanks and keep developing it. Pay no attention to the doubters, this is a tool that definitely has a place in cg production.

  23. Salvaman: Actually, I have to admit that you did a great job. However, I noted a strange behavior of the "camera holder" bone, I guess it's useless now.

    If it's OK for you, I'd like to keep developing my own version using your modifications, feel free to send me an email at seb AT 3dgestudio DOT com to talk about it, if you want :) Thanks!

    Kernon: Thanks mate, I'm sure the only reason they doubt about it is that some people don't fully know the CG, VFX and obviously filmmaking industries and can't see an use for it. Those who need a tool like this know it can be useful, and that's enough for me :)

  24. jajaja yeah sorry, I changed the names because those made more sense to me :-) well, I already noticed what was the mistake, and I already found 2 ways to fix it. The first one: select the CameraHolder (in my file is camera-swing) bone, in the copy rotation constraint unselect the Z axis. The second way is selecting the camera-hlp bone. after selecting it, go to the editing panel, in the Armature Bone tab select the Hinge button. I actually applied both ways, it doesn hurt. And, only to not animate the CameraHolder bone by mistake, in the 3d view press N. in the new panel select the lock icon beside the RotZ panel. and, well, that's it :-)

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