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After Effects, it’s one of those programs that you will never be an expert at. The more you learn the more there is to learn. I work with a great Director here and San Diego named Mike Brueggemeyer and I think he said it best. “After Effects is like diving into the water and trying to swim down and touch the bottom, only every time you get close someone moves the bottom farther away from you!!” Never have truer words been spoken!

One of the things I have always strived for in After Effects is smooth organic camera motion, and one of the things I have never been able to really achieve is smooth organic camera motion. Well an editor that works for me (thanks Mike) recently stumbled onto a plugin that makes this type of motion not only doable, but easy to achieve. The pugin is called Sure Target and it is put out by the folks over at Video Copilot. Real quick, if you do any After Effects work and are unfamiliar with Video Copilot stop reading now and go have a look. Truly amazing plugins and tutorials on that site.

So how does Sure Target work? Think of it as the ability to tell your After Effects camera to frame up a certain layer in your comp. Now think of having a couple of different groups of objects put together into a “set,” precomp those objects and now tell the camera to frame up those objects by pointing to the precop layer. Do this with multiple precomps and then move the camera between them. This is exactly how I created the spot thats at the end of this post. But if that wasn’t powerful enough you can also set up the camera to have very organic movement between the objects that you are framing up. Here’s a few my favorite Sure Target settings and what they do.


So were all familiar wiggle in AE right? The wiggle parameter here works similar. You can apply a wiggle speed, amount and seed. Doing this will give you camera that random motion that wiggle is known for. I find that small settings give your camera that nice handheld drift.


Think of this as overshoot. As your camera moves from one object to another it will overshoot the stop based on this amount. There is also an inertia decay setting which defines how long it takes for the camera to then settle in on the objects. With this you can go from very bouncy, to a quick snap into an object.


This one is really cool. It will auto set the focus to an object you are framing. It gives you that nice shallow depth of field as you are moving into and away from objects in z space. There are independent settings for aperture and blur level to play with but the default settings have worked great for me. One tip on this, frame up some text and then rotate the text on it’s Y axis. With auto-focus turned on you will get that slight blurring on the right and left side of the text that is just sexy.

So what would you pay for a plugin like this? $19.95??  $29.95??? $39.95???? how about FREE!!! Yes it is absolutely FREE!!! And so is the tutorial on how to use it. You can find it at the following link.

And to show you what I have been doing with it, here’s a promotional spot I just finished for the folks at NBC7 San Diego.


In short this is a really cool plugin that you can do some amazing stuff with. It’s certainly been added to our workflow here at M2, and now we just have to not over use it and burn it out… Yhea right! Like that’s gonna happen!