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I am looking to create an animation of a 3D model. I want the model to be the central object in the animation, so rotating around the model, always looking at the model. I am wondering what is the best way to perform this. This seems to be a basic operation, but it is becoming more tricky than I anticipated. I would like to use ArcScene or Google Earth, but I am open to suggestions.

Thanks...

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The easiest way I know to do this is to digitize a path around the object in question in ArcScene (make sure your polyline contains z-values), then select this path and use the animations toolbar to create a flyby from path. When you do this, you should have your screen centered on the object you want to focus on. Right click on the object and select "Set Target and Center." Under path destination, select "Move observer along path with current target"

Handy screenshot!

This will focus the camera on wherever you have the map centered as the animation flies along the path. For best results, I recommend a vertical offset from the ground elevation of your path. Use the animation controls options to preview the animation and change its duration. Animation controls
When you are satisfied, use the animations pull down menu to export the animation as an AVI.

You should also check out this tutorial.

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Thank you, I did try this, but I didn't notice any animation scenes. From here, does it create scenes that can be exported to an .AVI? –  Ryan Garnett Feb 26 '13 at 17:44
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Yes, it does create scenes. If you want to play them back before you export, you have to turn on the animation controls (the play/pause button). If you expand the options on the animation controls, you can adjust the duration and number of frames. In the animation drop-down menu, you can use the animation manager to work with multiple tracks and control how they play together, and when you have everything just the way you want it, export it as an AVI. I've also edited my response for more complete details. –  Jay Guarneri Feb 26 '13 at 18:38
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Thanks Jay, this was helpful. As a note to others. If you want to make a full circle around your model (as I did) the circle tool in ArcMap will make it as an arc, not a line segment with a series of nodes. What I did was to make the circle so it was smooth, then convert the circle arc to points (72, so they were 5 degrees apart) and then digitized a new line from the points. This resulted in a nice smooth circle around the model. –  Ryan Garnett Feb 26 '13 at 21:36
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