HandyCam Review: After Effects Camera Plugin

Plugin Everything‘s new HandyCam plugin for Adobe After Effects was recently released and I wanted to see whether or not the plugin would be useful in my workflow. This review will attempt to cover the overall features, the pros/cons, and of course whether or not you should buy this plugin. Side note: Plugin Everything did sponsor this review, but as always, they have no say in the review and my opinions are completely my own.

The New Malty Simple Camera Rig?

HandyCam is similar to Maltaannon’s Simple Camera Rig script (now discontinued) from back in the day, in fact, they even mention it in their overview video. You have simple controls to easily orbit around objects, track/zoom, translate, and focus on layers as you move. You can also configure the camera lens options like focal length, aperture, depth of field, etc. You have options to force the camera to stay focused on an object so you don’t have to keep adjusting the focal point as you move around the camera. There are also options to add a fake camera shake using a wiggle-esque movement.

The Pros

  • It’s simple and clean, you don’t have millions of nulls all parented to each to create a camera rig
  • It’s fast, allowing you to pull off movements very easily without having to constantly adjust, tweak, or hop into camera settings
  • It’s relatively affordable, around $40

The Cons

  • It’s a plugin, not a script. This means if you want to pass your project over to someone or use it in a render farm, the other computers/users need to have the plugin installed
  • The “baking expression” solution to get around the issue above is great, but can be optimized further by deleting junk/repetitive keyframes

HandyCam isn’t a revolutionary plugin, you can create camera rigs linked with expressions to do everything it can do like forcing the camera to point at a layer while keeping it in focus, etc. It does offer convenience and cleanliness, with a dead simple UI, and possible new features and improvements in the future. One thing I want to see in an update is the ability to set a “speed” parameter and have the camera auto-orbit or translate/zoom automatically without keyframes. This would be perfect for a lot of the simple camera moves, and would be great for quick animatics, etc.

If you’re a solo freelancer or work in a small team where passing a project that requires a camera plugin isn’t a huge issue, this plugin is worth a try to speed up your workflow. If what I just mentioned above sounds like a terrible pipeline issue, or maybe you’re completely satisfied with your own camera rig you’ve got set up, this plugin isn’t for you. Nevertheless, it’s cheap enough for you to try, or you can try the trial to see if you could benefit from this tool. Overall, another solid tool by Plugin Everything.

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