How to use a Dolly Track in Unity

Objective: Show how to add and use a Dolly Track in Unity

In order to use the Dolly Track, you must have Cinemachine installed in your Unity project. Since we have following posts Composing and Timeline we can move straight into setting up the Dolly.

For this scene we are working with the following Previs Elements.

The scene has already been blocked out and the shot composed with virtaul cameras and animation set. These again can be understood better from the previous posts Composing and Timeline.

You can see from the above image we have the scene and game view set up to match the Previs Elements shot. All thats left is setting up to Dolly to track around the security guard as described.

To create the Dolly Track, go to Cinemachine and create Dolly Track with Camera. Once created we don’t need the newly created camera as we have already set up the cameras we are using in the composing of the shot so you can delete that new virtual camera.

Find the Dolly Track in the scene and move it to the position you want to start from.

Once set up you set the initial 0 point in the scene to show the starting position. With the Dolly selected, go to the Inspector and under Cinemachine Path, Path Details, click the plus symbol to add a waypoint.

In the above image you can see that the original anchor point is now three anchors and there is a green segment between two. The green segment is the track that the camera will follow. The first and second anchors are the waypoints and the third is tangent. The tangent controls curves and angles along the track.

In the above image you can see the track moves behind the security guard to come out in from of our actor. Next we need to set the Dolly to work with our virtual camera since we removed the one that was set up with the Dolly.

Select the camera you want to use, in my case the Full shot which is the ground shot in front of our actor. In the Inspector, move down to the body settings and change from transposer to tracked dolly. Then drag the Dolly Track into the path in the body.

In the above gif you can see the look at is empty. We want the camera to focus on the actor as the Dolly moves around the scene for the shot. Generally you would use the full actors transform but I opted to go deeper and use the actors head to give a cleaner more cinematic shot.

Next we move to the overhead camera shot. We can animate the camera to pull back for more dramatic flare to the end of the cut. To do this we add another Animation Track to the Timeline and keyframe the shot.

We now have our cutscene working on the Dolly and transitioning between cameras. I decided to see how a blended transition between cameras would add to the effect of the cut so I added a long blend between the two shots to remove the cut from the Dolly cam to the overhead. To blend the shots, simply drag the shot to overlap the other shot. You will notice a diagonal line appear between the two to represent the length of the blend.

As you can see, I start the blending before the end of the Dolly animation and take it well into the second shot.

Please ignore the green artifacting on the video thumbnails as this does not show up in the videos.

Finally to match the Previs, we need to add a fade in which we follow the same procedure as in the previous Timeline post.

In the next post, we will look at animating objects using Timeline.