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Yeebaagooon's Cinematic Guide

created 9/3/08

By Yeebaagooon






Introduction





On the request of a few people, I have decided to make a very detailed guide on elements that make a good cinematic.

So, what is a cinematic? A cinematic is a group of triggers that make the player watch a mini-movie, the group of triggers almost always starts with a cinematic mode on effect, and always ends with a cinematic mode off effect. If a player has control of units, and the cinematic mode is not on, it is not a cinematic.

A successful cinematic will need lots of elements in order to entertain the viewer. I will discuss the following elements in this guide. Before you can make a cinematic, you will first need to learn how to manipulate the camera, so the first two sections do not have much to do with actually making a cinematic, more how to use the camera to make it look nice.



Contents





    • Camera tracks

      • How to unlock the camera
      • Waypoints
      • Advanced camera tricks

    • Camera cuts

      • How to set up a camera cut
      • Advanced angles

    • Cinematic mode

      • Normal cinematic mode
      • Full screen mode

    • Dialogues

      • Icons

    • Special Effects

      • Animations
      • Visual effects and sound effects

    • Bringing it all together *


* This section assumes you know how to make triggers.

So, let's get rolling!



Camera Tracks





Camera tracks are very important. They allow dynamic movement of the camera, they help make cinematics much more interesting, and they have other uses too.
A camera track is made up of a series of camera cuts, called waypoints. The camera track will go through all the waypoints.

How to unlock the camera
You've probably seen a lot of screenshots with the camera at an angle, but you have no idea how to get that angle.

First you have to enable camera rotation. To do this, go to the main menu and click options. Then make sure that the 'Allow Camera Rotation' box is active.

Now go into the editor and press Alt+Shift+C on your keyboard. You have now unlocked the camera, and it offers endless possibilities:

  • - = Zoom out
  • + = Zoom in
  • A = Tilts the angle of the camera towards the sky
  • Z = Tilts the angle of the camera towards the ground
  • Pageup = Moves the camera vertically up
  • Pagedown = Moves the camera vertically down
  • Mouse wheel = Rotates the camera
  • Alt+Shift+C = Returns to normal view

Remember: If your map is larger than 150x150, zooming out too far will lag!

Waypoints

Now you have unlocked the camera, you can practise using waypoints. To open the camera track editor, click on the green button in the scenario design bar:



When you click this button, the camera track interface will appear.



When you first open the interface, it will be different. To make it look like the screenshot, click the red insert button.

A camera track has magically appeared! Now, let's start with a very basic track that will just move between two points. After you have decided on the two points, move your camera to the first one (using the arrow keys) and click on 'Point 0'. Then click the dark yellow update button. This will tell your camera track that you want to start at this point.

Next, move your camera to your final destination using the arrow keys and click the yellow add button. A new waypoint called 'Point 1' will be created. Click on 'Point 1' (make sure it is white) and click the dark yellow update button.

You will now have a camera track, but you need to specify how long you want it to last. To do this, change the number in the dark blue duration box to 5.000 seconds.

Now click the green play button, and watch your camera track. You will have noticed a few things. First, the violet bar will have moved along with your track. If you manually drag this bar, your camera will follow the camera track path. If you want to see this path for yourself, click the blue show button.
Viewing the path can be very useful when you are planning a camera track that goes through a lot of objects.

Now you hopefully know how to make a very basic camera track, let's try some advanced features.

Advanced camera tricks

Create a new camera track, but use 4 waypoints this time. Make sure you experiment with unlocking the camera and create a smooth pattern. I've created one that starts high, looking down on the map and then pans around the map before looking up at the sky (more on this later) from the ground.

It is important to make sure you have a smooth track, that means no jittering. The camera jitters from having to turn around a big angle in a small place, this is worst at the edge of the map. If you track is jittery, use the gold delete button to delete waypoints or the dark red delete button if you completely screw up.


Here's mine. It lasts for 10 seconds. Now click on any waypoint, and experiment with these effects:

  • The orange time button tells you where a waypoint is situated in your camera track timeline. When you create your track, they are equally spaced. Try increasing or decreasing the time value to change the speed of the camera between two waypoints.

  • The dark orange tension button determines how tense the path is between two waypoints. Increasing it will make it take angles with more precision, try it on yours.

  • Continuity and bias have such a small effect on your tracks, they are not worth worrying about.

    So there you go, sexy camera tracks! To use them in your scenario, use the Camera Track effect in the triggers menu (more on this later).






  • Camera Cuts





    If you don't want to use camera tracks, you can always use camera cuts instead. Some small ingame cinematics work very well by having the camera cut between different people.

    A camera cut is getting the camera to focus on a certain object or point.

    How to set up a camera cut

    Let's start basic. Place a single object on your map, and we want to have the camera cut to this unit.

    Focus the camera on the unit, and then go to the triggers menu (the red button). You could also click the blue toggle letterbox mode button, that will show you a cinematic view.



    It's very simple. Just move over your unit, with it in your view and create the following trigger:

    Trigger 1 (Active, high priority)

    Conditions:
    Always

    Effects:
    Camera Cut - Stats

    Now move the camera over your unit and click the blue set cut button. If you want to check your cut saved, move away and then click the cyan show button.

    There, that's how you make a basic camera cut. Simple !

    Advanced angles
    Save you want your camera cut to face a certain angle, but you can't get to it by rotating the mouse wheel. What you should do is this:

    Create a 2 point camera track between the first turn of the mouse wheel and the last, set the timer to 5 seconds and then use the scrolling bar (see camera tracks) to find the angle you want. The set up the camera cut in a normal way.



    Cinematic mode





    The cinematic bars are like brackets, with all your nice effects between them. Cinematic mode makes sure the player cannot move any units, and also makes units switch to cinematic models if they have them.

    Normal cinematic mode
    Simply use the Cinematic mode trigger and choose on/off.

    Full screen mode
    When you start your cinematic, use quest var set to set the var 'Cinematic' to 1. When you turn off your cinematic, set the var to 0 and use cinematic mode off.

    Also add a looping active high priority trigger that has the condition Quest Var check, to check that the 'Cinematic' var is equal to one. For effects, simply have cinematic mode on.



    Dialogues





    The 'Play Dialog' effect is your friend. Make sure you use it. This sexy effect gets all the talking your characters may be doing in your cinematics done, with the additional option of icons.

    The interface of the play dialog effect looks like this screenshot. You may have seen some yellow text, and to do this simply put a colon as a separator.

    Eg.

    Yeebaagooon: At last the cinematic is complete!

    Will change into:
    .Yeebaagooon
    At last the cinematic is complete!


    Simple. But you may notice the big black area to the left. This area can be filled with an icon.

    Icons
    Icons are sexy image files that you can add to your play dialog effect to make the cinematic look nice.

    A list of all icons can be found in nottud's editor superpack. But there are some hidden ones that are very sexy. You need to extract the textures2.bar file using AOMed to find them. There's even an icon of Great Britain in there!

    For now, I'm using my default Son Of Osiris icon. (icons/special e son of osiris icon 64). I typed this in the portrait box. The dialog now looks like this:

    Yeebaagooon
    At last the cinematic is complete!


    The sound box will play a sound with your dialogue, but I would use sound filename instead because the dialogue will vanish after your sound finishes.



    Special Effects





    Everyone loves special effects. They set your cinematic apart from the rest. Special effects could be anything, from animations to visual effects.

    Animations - This section is only for SINGLEPLAYER scenarios. Animations do not work online.



    You can access the animation options from clicking the orange button and then scrolling down to 'View Animations', right at the very bottom.

    Animations are very important in singleplayer cinematics. They make your cinematic look professional and they keep the viewer entertained.

    First off, the blue text at the top tells you the protoname of the unit you selected. This may be useful if you want a change unit trigger. Next, click on the green button (it will say idle) and scroll down to cinematic. If your unit does not have a cinematic option, it has no cinematic options.

    Once you have found this you can use the red scroll box to find an animation you like.

    When you have found your animation, you could play with it a bit. The dark green text tells you exactly how long the animation lasts - and that is useful if you are planning a cinematic around it. You can also drag the violet slider to see different frames of your animation.

    A complete list of animations is also supplied in nottud's editor superpack, the animation name will be very similar to the red text, but the red text is NOT the animation name.

    Once you have found the animation name, simply use the set animation trigger to implement it. The fire event at the bottom, fires a trigger as soon as the animation has finished. This is useful if you have a running animation followed by an effect.

    Combining two or more animations can produce outrageous results if done right. This has been done in very few scenarios, so try getting tow units with different animations to interact with each other.

    Now, onto the next section!

    Visual effects and sound effects

    Visual effects are definitely worth exploring. When your main hero dies in a cinematic, why settle for the standard hero death effect? You could have a blinding flash of light followed by the hero death effect and a curse SFX with some lostsouls music.

    Projectiles are also good to play with. But you will need to modify their lifespan and speed (-) to achieve the right result.


    I recommend using the change unit type trigger to achieve special effects, change from a cinematic block.

    Some good SFXs to use in your cinematics are:
  • Ball of fire I Love Bananas and Yeebaagooon represented as flying Lampades Bolts in Codename Ripto
  • Clone SFX
  • Curse SFX
  • Einheriari Boost SFX
  • Fireball Launch Damage Effect
  • Frost Drift
  • Hero Birth
  • Heavenlight
  • Implode Sphere Effect
  • Kronny Birth
  • Kronny Birth SFX
  • Lampades Bolt
  • Osiris Box Glow
  • Osiris Birth
  • Poison SFX
  • Ragnorok SFX
  • Regeneration SFX
  • Vortex finish linked
  • Vortex landing
  • Vortex start linked
  • Wall Connector Destruction SFX

    Nottud has also compiled a complete sound list, and Green_Turtle has done the same (but in .txt format). Just search the downloads section and you'll find them .



    Bringing it all together





    So you know all the stuff, but what about the triggers themselves!? You should know how to lay them out in an orderly fashion.

    All cinematic triggers should be high priority, but only the very first one of your first cinematic should be 'run immediately'.

    The best way is to group your cinematic triggers separately, by chapter. Don't be afraid to create a lot of groups. You should name your triggers something like: Cine_1_C01 or M4_Intro_01. The 0 is so the ordering does not go mad. If you just had 1, 10 would come immediately after that.

    The best way to activate your triggers is to make them have a timer condition and then use the fire event trigger on the previous trigger.

    When you want a second cineamtic, just add a units in area condition to it, and do the rest as normal.

    Remember to use as many of the effects as I have discussed above! Camera tracks, animations, sound effects, camera cuts, play dialogs and visual effects are just some of the endless possibilities that cinematics have to offer.