Zoom shots involve motion of the focal length; the camera itself does not translate. Although many animators overlook this technique, the zoom is a great shot to use in 3D animation. For example, if you pick up just a simple camcorder, you often zoom in to get a closer look at the action. Why not in 3D? You can use zooms for fast-moving action, surprises, explosions, or anything that you can think of. A zoom can bring your shot from a full shot to a close-up without movement of the cameraa zoom has a distinctly different look from a dolly. It can be used in just about any type of animation, from logo design to character animation to legal animation. Figures 11 and 12 show a scene with first a full shot, then a zoom.
Figure 11 A low-angle shot looking down the city street allows the viewer to focus on the scene.
Figure 12 Zooming in on the '57 Chevy brings the viewer closer to the action.
Zoom shots can be done slowly and easily to bring the viewer into a scene or character. Zoom shots can also be done quickly as an added effect to your animations. Say, for example, your animated character's expression needs to change quickly from calm to surprised. A quick zoom into his face helps emphasize the surprise. Zooms can be fast or slow, in or out. They are also great when mixed with a shaking camera to simulate a hand-held camcorder look.
Whether you use a zoom or a dolly shot is simply a matter of preference. The difference is that zooming changes the perspective as it changes the focal length. If you don't want the perspective to change in the shot, you can just use a dolly shot and move the camera in (or out). Remember, in 3D you can move the camera freelyno wires, no cables, no operators!