Camera Rigs

Film with real-world techniques in Unreal Engine by using Camera Rigs.

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One of the methods real-world filmmakers use to produce smooth, sweeping shots, is by utilizing Camera Rigs, which are apparatuses that the camera attaches to. In Unreal Engine, you can use Rail and Crane rigs to create realistic camera movements.

Prerequisites

Camera Rig Rail

The Camera Rig Rail is used to emulate a Camera Dolly system, which is used to create Tracking Shots. The rail's track length and curvature can be modified to suit the needs of your shot.

camera rig rail

Creation

To add a rail rig to your Level, navigate to the Cinematic tab in the Place Actors panel and locate Camera Rig Rail. Drag it from the panel and into your viewport.

create camera rig rail

Next, move the camera to your chosen position, relative to the dolly, and attach it to the rail by dragging the camera Actor onto the rig rail in the World Outliner.

attach camera rig rail

After a camera is attached to the dolly, it can still be moved to fine-tune its final position.

Track Length and Shape

The Camera Rig Rail uses Unreal Engine's Blueprint Splines for determining its track's length and shape. By default, the rail uses linear spline points at the start and end of the track. These points can be selected and moved to adjust the length and direction of the track.

camera rig rail length

Selecting and moving the spline tangent points will add curvature to the track based on the tangent angle.

camera rig rail curve

Additional points can be added to the track's spline to fine-tune the track's shape. Select the rig rail, right-click the spline, and select Add Spline Point Here to add a new point at your cursor's position.

camera rail spline point

Rail Controls

When selecting the Camera Rig Rail Actor, it displays the following properties for controlling its behavior and movement.

rail details

Name

Description

Current Position on Rail

This property controls the dolly movement along the track. The value range is clamped between 0 and 1, where 0 is the start point of the track, and 1 is the end point.

current position on rail

Lock Orientation to Rail

By default, the camera's orientation is set independently from the orientation of the dolly. Enabling Lock Orientation to Rail will cause the camera's rotation to be set relative to the dolly's rotation.

lock orientation to rail

Show Rail Visualization

Disabling Show Rail Visualization will hide the dolly and track mesh, leaving only the spline visible.

show rail visualization

Preview Mesh Scale

This property changes the size of the track and dolly preview geometry.

preview mesh scale

Camera Rig Crane

The Camera Rig Crane Actor is used to emulate a boom arm or Camera Jib system, which is used to create Crane Shots. The crane can be pivoted along horizontal and vertical axes, and can be extended as needed.

camera rig crane

Creation

To add a crane rig to your Level, navigate to the Cinematic tab in the Place Actors panel and locate Camera Rig Crane. Drag it from the panel and into your viewport.

create camera rig crane

Next, move the camera to your chosen position, relative to the crane anchor, and attach it by dragging the camera onto the rig crane in the World Outliner.

attach camera crane

Crane Controls

When selecting the Camera Rig Crane Actor, it displays the following properties for controlling its behavior and movement.

camera rig crane details

Name

Description

Crane Pitch

Controls the pitch movement of the crane mechanism.

crane pitch

Crane Yaw

Controls the yaw movement of the crane mechanism.

crane yaw

Crane Arm Length

Controls the crane arm length in centimeters. This is a type-aware field, meaning that if you were to type in other units such as 2m will automatically convert to 200cm.

crane arm length

Lock Mount Pitch / Yaw

By default, the camera's orientation is independent from the crane's pitch and yaw movement. Enabling either Lock Mount Pitch or Lock Mount Yaw will cause the camera's rotation to be set relative to the pitch or yaw rotation of the crane.

crane lock axis

Camera Rigs In Sequencer

The primary way you will be manipulating Camera Rigs will be by animating them in Sequencer. Both the Camera Rig Rail and Camera Rig Crane Actor tracks can be added to your sequence

add camera rig sequencer

You will also need to add the attached camera Actors as tracks in Sequencer in order to animate them in conjunction with the movement of your rigs.

add camera rig sequencer

Rail

Camera Rail Rig property tracks can be added to Sequencer by clicking the + Track button on the track and selecting from the Properties category.

camera rail tracks

Once the tracks have been added, you can set keyframes on the rail and camera property tracks to create your tracking shot.

camera rig rail example

Crane

Camera Crane Rig property tracks can be added by clicking the + Track button on the track and selecting from the Properties category.

camera crane tracks

Once the tracks have been added, you can set keyframes on the crane and camera property tracks to create your crane shot.

camera rig crane example

Combining Crane and Rail

You can also attach a rail to a crane, using the same camera attachment steps detailed above, to create a camera dolly and crane system. Crane and rail properties can be animated together to allow for more freedom and realism in your shot creation.

crane and rail example

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