Boom and Crane Shots
Using mechanical shots is one of the more exciting areas of shooting digitally, because while such shots can be difficult to accomplish in the physical world, you do not have the same limitations when working digitally. Mechanical shots are often referred to as boom or crane shots. These techniques traditionally use cranes or jibs, which are "arms" that move the camera into difficult-to-access places. For example, have you ever seen an opening shot to a scene that starts high up in the trees and moves down slowly to focus in on the action? A crane shot like this is expensive and often difficult to set up for film or video, but comes without hassle for the computer animator. Mechanical shots help the director create interesting camera moves and view the action through unique angles. Figures 13 and 14 show the starting and ending frames of a mechanical shot. The camera starts high over the street above the elevated tracks and moves down across the street as a car passes underneath. It would be a very difficult shot to film in the real world, but in the computer, you're not limited by a mechanical crane, cables, or traffic!
Figure 13 The beginning frame of a crane shot. It can start high (or low) as the camera begins to move.
Figure 14 The ending frame of a crane shot. The camera has moved down from above the tracks and seamlessly traveled between the rails. Try that in the real world!
In 3D animation, it's easy to create a full scene and create your shots within it, such as the cityscape used for many of the examples in this chapter. A full scene allows the director to frame out full shots, medium shots, or close-ups without having to re-create sets or props. In traditional drawn or hand animation, this technique is called a field cut, and it enables the animator to gain as many shots as possible from one drawn frame. You can employ this technique in 3D, as well.