Smooth , "Feathered" Camera Movements

While dealing with camera motion, it appears there is no way to replicate the “fluid” and natural motion of a real camera when creating animations. All changes in velocity from scene to scene (tracking, pan, tilt, dolly, etc.) are abrupt. They go from motionless to a constant speed and then instantly back to motionless.

Is there a plugin that allows the user to smoothly ramp in and out of a camera move? Users of After Effects will recall the “Easy Ease” functionality that smooths motion for animations. Camera operators sometimes call this technique “feathering.” In 3D animation, animators describe the velocity change as being curved.

Interestingly, by clicking and dragging while in Camera view you can achieve this kind of subtle movement. But there’s no way, as far as I can tell, to animate or record it.

I was going to purchase the pro version, but without this feature I don’t think I will; it’s a shame, because otherwise this is a spectacular program!

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Have you tried setting Scene Delay to 0 in Window menu>Model Info>Animation ?


It’s not free, but a 3D controller can do that. Per this video, they can be found for around $50. The video shows how, in the authors OTHER videos, he achieves the smooth camera movement you describe.

Anssi, thanks for your response. The scene delay is at zero. Unfortunately, the camera still goes from a complete stop to full speed instantly. What I am trying to do is get the camera to accelerate and decelerate slowly from scene to scene.

Thanks, sjorst. I’ve watched several of the Harwood podcast videos now. They’re really informative, and the controller appears to enable smooth movement I want while navigating through a model.

However, it seems there’s no way to animate and record that movement from a Camera’s perspective from scene to scene. Am I missing something, or is it a feature that SketchUp doesn’t have?


I can’t answer that! I don’t (yet) have such a device. I’m probably going to get one as it seems a much more natural way to navigate my models, and if I’m creating a video through screen capture, I like how smooth it will seem - once I’m practiced enough to use it. However, I have no clue if it can animate smooth camera movements when animating scene transitions in SketchUp.

sjdorst, doing screen capture while navigating with that device is a great idea; I may try that. It does look very smooth. Thanks for your advice, I appreciate it.

Another way to simulate smooth camera moves is to export a much longer animation than you need and take it into a video editor. Then set keyframes for time so it goes from regular speed to fast and back to regular and “Easy Ease” those keyframes.

It looks pretty good unless you need to go to a full stop, in which case there are a couple frames that aren’t perfectly smooth.

if you use ‘save as image sequence’ you’ll find a set of identical images at the end of each transition, you can then use ‘find duplicates’ type utility to locate them and remove any excess ones…

worked for me in the past, but I’m on a mac so the utility is built-in…


MattR, I’ve tried bringing it into Adobe Premiere; I used “Time Remapping” and it looks okay until it comes to a complete stop. Exactly as you predicted.

It’s extraordinary to me that this sort of camera movement isn’t built into the program somehow.

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john, thanks for your tip. To clarify, I’m talking about making the camera’s speed variable. Accelerating smoothly into a move and then decelerating smoothly to a stop. Imagine a dolly camera move in a movie; usually, the camera operators must gain speed gradually and decrease gradually, giving an overall softer, more tasteful and attractive camera move.

While I understand it is not primarily an animation program, the way the camera moves in SketchUp Pro seems very basic for the price, despite being called “ACT” (Advanced Camera Tools).

Are they trying to limit functionality so they’re not competing with 3D modeling/animation programs in the next tier? Seriously thinking about dusting off my old copy of Bryce 5.

You have 2 options :

  1. The sheapest way : export your scene through collada .dae format. Import it in blender. Then learn blender (camera following path, materials and renderer etc.). The interface is baffling, you’ll want to stop learning it. Keep it up and pass 20 to 30 hours working with it, then you’ll understand the magic of Blender. It’s one of the best open source software and you can do so much with it. You’ll be rewarded. And you’ll also get a very fine render.

  2. The expensive way : if you can afford it, buy Lumion 6.0, even the limited version. You’ll save a lot (i said A LOT) of time and have professional grade textures, animations and rendering.

After seeing the results of my first movie, I of course googled within 5 seconds to see if you could ease-in or “feather” the motion. I don’t want to be too much of a Mac fanboy here, but way back years ago Apple Keynote (Presentation) implemented an option to “ease in” and “ease out” animation build movements. To have it look professional you need this. It does not need to be feature laden, keep it simple, in, out and duration in seconds. You should not have to go through the above suggestions (learning curves, expense) just to get a basic but decent movie. BTW, as a beginner, not being able to hit a key combination to defeat the snap-to where it wants to put things: Is Crazy! (IMHO)

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Have you put in a feature request? I use SketchUp to visualize large and small scale art projects. I don’t need all the power (and subsequent learning curve) of a render engine and camera subsystem. I would just like the camera movements as it moves from scene to scene to apply a simple spline to values it is changing.