10 Tips for Creating Awesome Camera Animations with Point Clouds

To stay competitive among the growing number of laser-scanning and drone service providers, it is important to showcase reality capture projects in appealing ways. For far too long, point clouds remained hidden from wider audiences, because it was hard to effectively communicate them. 

With NUBIGON, you can now generate immersive point cloud environments, enrich them with lights, shadows, add mesh, CAD and DEM models and generate compelling camera animations. Here are a few suggestions to make the most out of this powerful feature:

1 Avoid Too Many Keyframes Close to Each Other

When you position your camera and add keyframes, NUBIGON calculates a spline for the camera path with those keyframes as control points. If you create camera positions too close to each other, you may encounter unusual camera movements. 

2 Pay Attention to the Speed Graph

After creating the second keyframe you will see a graph in the timeline. That is the speed graph of the camera. It displays when your camera speeds up or slows down. You can click and drag the keyframes in the timeline to smooth out the camera speed or create dramatic camera movements.

3 Use Cross Sections

When creating camera animations, NUBIGON renders everything visible in the viewport. So if you have an active cross-section, your animation will render the clipped scene. Because NUBIGON offers multiple active cross-sections at the same time, you can dissect the point of interest in your scene any way you want and create interesting views.

4 Hide your Light Sources

NUBIGON renders everything in the viewport, and lights are no exception. After creating an awesome scene with cool lighting effects, do not forget to uncheck “Show light sources” in the Lighting Editor. 

5 Adjust Performance Settings

Go to the Performance tab in the Preferences menu and increase the cache sizes and decrease the minimum coverage to load more points to the viewport. With more points loaded, your point clouds will look nicer. Be careful not to get past your PCs limits and remember to return the cache size and minimum coverage settings to their defaults after the render is complete. 

6 Keep Your Project Folder on SSD

A solid-state disk (SSD) will reduce the time your computer loads points to the viewport. If you call too many points to the viewport from a mechanical disk, the loading time for each frame will be longer and your video might have flickering issues. An SSD can remedy this issue. 

7 Be Mindful of Minimum Coverage

Although loading more points to the viewport enhances the visual quality of a point cloud, you have to practice caution with massive point clouds. When dealing with clouds with more than a billion points, the loading process will take a long time, and this will happen with many frames in the camera animation if the camera travels around too much. 

When rendering videos of massive point clouds, a good trick is to keep the minimum coverage between 0.10 and 0.01 depending on the total number of points. 

8 Use Perfect Frame

If you are working with a small point cloud file, don’t worry about fiddling with performance settings and activate Perfect Frame in the export menu. The Perfect Frame option automatically manages your resources to create the best looking renders. 

Do not use the Perfect Frame option with massive point clouds. It will take an insane amount of time if you do. Read the minimum coverage and performance settings tips again to render great looking videos with massive point clouds.

9 Use Cross Sections for Performance

Not seeing a point in NUBIGON does not mean it is not loaded to the viewport. Let’s say you are creating a camera animation in a corridor, but your point clouds include the corridor, the building in which the corridors sit, the trees around the building and some facades of the neighboring buildings. If the resulting video won’t be showing anything beyond the corridor, why lose time loading those points to the viewport. 

Use cross-sections to clip the unseen portions of the point cloud to make the render process faster.

10 Edit & Post-Process 

Creating an uncut flythrough of a point of interest might be appealing, however, all the movies and series we watch in theaters and on TV use cuts. 

Create multiple camera animations from one scene, edit and mix them together to create even cooler videos showcasing your projects. Create awesome transitions and add effects to your videos to make them more appealing.

You don’t need to pay extra for editing software, there are many free editing software products around. The extra time you will spend on editing will have a great impact on the final video.

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