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Camera Roll in Prezi

Dec 17, 2022 | Prezi

Prezi lets us pan, zoom and roll the vir­tual camera. The latter is rarely seen, for good reason. A rolling rota­tion is not nat­ural for us human beings. When we are not cur­rently prac­tising hand­stands, there is a good chance that we almost never roll our heads at heavy angles. Slight head tilts on the other hand, for example during a con­ver­sa­tion or while posing for a photo, are per­fectly normal.

How to roll?

In Prezi, we can roll the camera by rotating either the graphic, zoom area or the whole topic. You do that by first selecting it and then moving your cursor to the cor­ners of the selec­tion frame. When you now hit ALT + CTRL/CMD (Windows/Mac) the cursor should change. A left mouse button click and moving the mouse up or down will rotate the ele­ment. You can snap to cer­tain angles by holding down the shift key on your keyboard.

Inter­est­ingly, Prezi limits the camera rota­tion to an angle of 180°. This is because Prezi decides whether it does a roll left or a roll right based on the shortest angle. So if we rotate a zoom area 90° to the left, Prezi rolls the camera left and does not roll the camera right for 270°. When we rotate our object 181° to the left, it now will roll the camera 179° to the right because this angle is smaller. That means, if you would like to make a 360° full camera roll, you have to split it up into two clicks.

With all this unnat­u­ral­ness and dis­com­fort of rolling a camera, are there any occa­sions when our pre­sen­ta­tions can ben­efit from it?


Rolling a camera is uncommon, even in movies, more so in pre­sen­ta­tions. We can use this to our advan­tage. When we use a camera roll, it comes as a sur­prise. No one expects that a scene would rotate. It, there­fore, can be a great tran­si­tion effect, keeping the audi­ence engaged and entertained.


In pre­sen­ta­tion tools like Prezi that make great use of the match cut tran­si­tion, we some­times need our com­po­si­tion to har­mo­nize with addi­tional text ele­ments. Using a camera roll allows us to have absolute con­trol over the final composition.

Be careful

As you can see, rolling the vir­tual camera can con­tribute to the overall expe­ri­ence. When you are plan­ning to use a camera roll inside your pre­sen­ta­tion, you should con­sider the following:

The far­ther the dis­tance between the audi­ence and the pre­sen­ta­tion screen is, the less nausea camera rolls will create. Big events usu­ally come with big screens. Do the first few rows a favour and keep this side effect in mind while designing the presentation.

A vir­tual camera roll is an uncommon motion. We do not see it so often because it might cause nausea on big screens. But when we use it con­trolled, it can sur­prise the audi­ence and grant us more com­po­si­tional flexibility.

Keep on rolling!

Thank you for reading.

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