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After Effects Quick Tip: Creating a Viewfinder

Joshua Noel

Learn how to design and animate a live-action viewfinder UI for your videos in After Effects.

If you’re a videographer, then you know that it is unrealistic to capture a shot including your camera’s user interface. The best way to create a camera viewfinder onscreen is in post-production. However, recreating your camera’s viewfinder can be daunting, especially when you look at your camera’s UI and see all of the elements of a professional display.

This After Effects tutorial will show you how to create the UI elements of your camera’s viewfinder, how to animate specific parameters, and how to add camera movement to a still photo. After a quick watch, you should be able to tackle any type of user interface.

Download Photography HUD Free Project File

Follow along with the tutorial above by downloading the free Photography HUD project file. Simply click the download button below.


Step-by-Step Process for Creating a Viewfinder

  1. Analyze your camera’s UI and look at all of the elements you need. If you don’t have your camera on hand, do a quick search for “camera interface.”
  2. In After Effects, take each element one at a time and create the necessary shapes.
  3. Once all of your elements (shapes and text) are ready, arrange each graphic into the correct position to make your viewfinder.
  4. Animate graphics as you see fit — for example: auto focus points, exposure controls, and depth of field.
  5. (Optional) Add a camera shake effect to the position parameter to your video. Alt-click the stop watch next to position and type in “wiggle(.5,30).”

Photography Viewfinder HUDs in Rocketstock

If you are in a hurry and need viewfinder graphics ASAP, check out Info Plates, an exclusive Photography HUD After Effects template on our sister site Rocketstock. In addition to a traditional photography HUD, Info Plates has modern photography and video camera HUDs. Here’s a quick demo of Info Plates in-action.


Know any post-production UI tips? Let us know in the comments.