The rendering engine needs a camera object to define position of the camera, viewing angle and focal length, among other things.

A view window contains an internal camera, which can be controlled interactively with several view navigation functions available through the keyboard, view property window and the view control bar. In addition to this, the user can create any number of camera objects into the hierarchy of geometric objects. View windows can fetch their orientation and other properties from these camera objects.

This tutorial examines how various camera properties can be managed.

Creating a camera

1. Activate the Camera tool from the Creation tab of the Toolbar.

The Camera tool selected

2. Define the camera geometry by entering three points through the view window. These three points define position, aim point and viewing angle for the camera.

You have now created a camera object. You can modify the camera just like any other geometric object using the modify tools (Move, Rotate etc.) and the property window.

Enter three points in a view window to define the position, aim point and viewing angle for the camera

View's camera

A view window uses an internal camera object to define its orientation. When you rotate, pan and zoom the view, you actually modify the position, direction and distance of this internal camera object.

Instead of defining geometry for a camera object under construction by clicking three points, you can also use geometry from a view's internal camera. Using this feature, you can easily save the current state of the view camera to a camera object and restore it whenever needed.

To create a camera object which matches the current orientation of a view window:

1. Activate the camera tool.

2. Accept the tool immediately without entering any points. The created camera matches exactly the orientation of the current view window. (Including orthographic views, i.e. non perspective views!)

Working with multiple cameras

You can add any number of cameras to your project using the two creation methods described above.

To fetch the viewing angle and other settings of a camera object into a view window, simply drag & drop the object from select window to the view window.

If you have included multiple cameras to a project and want to start file rendering or animation preview, you have to first define which camera is the Current camera. By animating the Current camera option, you can also jump from one camera to another during animation.

To make a camera the current camera:

1. Select the camera in the Select window

2. Click the Current icon in the tool control bar

The camera backdrop tool

You can define backdrop images using the Backdrop tool. A backdrop image is a plane defined in a camera's space.

Because a backdrop image is a true 3D surface, other objects can reflect it, cast shadows on it and so on. For example, you can create a magnifying glass, which really magnifies the backdrop image.

Any number of backdrop images can be created per camera. Only the backdrop images of the Current camera are active in file and view rendering.

The Backdrop tool allows you to create most commonly needed backdrop effects easily.

To define a constant background color:

1. Click on a camera in the Select window. This makes the Backdrop icon show in the control bar. Now click on the Backdrop icon and define the desired color to the Color field of the tool control bar

Backdrop tool activated, constant white color defined

A backdrop object shown in the view and the select windows

2. Select Accept on the desired view window.

This automatically creates a new camera object with a backdrop object. If a camera object was selected when applying the tool, the backdrop object is inserted into it (a new camera is not created).

To preview the backdrop in a view window, simply render the view. If the scene contains multiple cameras, make the camera Current first.

Backdrop images are represented as planes in view windows. You can move a backdrop object like any other geometric object. However, you can't shear or scale it. The backdrop always remains perpendicular to the focal axis of the camera.

Backdrop tool sets up a backdrop image, which always renders with the specified color. Light sources don't affect the shading of the backdrop image in any way. This result is achieved by setting the actual diffuse color of the backdrop to black and assigning the desired RGB value to the Illumination channel. To change the unshaded constant color of a backdrop:

1. Select the backdrop object.

2. Open the property window and go to the Col tab.

3. Select Illumination from the Attribute list and enter a new color to the value field below the attribute gadget.

Activating a lens flare effect for a camera

To activate a lens flare for a certain camera:

1. Select the camera.

2. Open the property window. Go to the Spec tab. The Lens Flare gadget shows the contents of the current library of post particle effects (you can add new alternatives using the Post Particle Effects tab of the select window). Select a suitable alternative.

To preview the lens flare, drag & drop the camera from the select window into a view window and click Render.

[Note] Note
You can render a lens flare in a view window without a camera object. The view property window contains a camera property gadget (for controlling view's internal camera) and you can select the effect directly using it.

Camera lens flare is a camera specific effect. Lens flares are automatically created by the light sources, which are directly visible from the camera. You can add other kinds of lens flares to your scenes using the post processing system of Realsoft 3D. You can, for example,create thousands of particles and render them as lens flares. This approach provides much more control than the 'automatic' camera lens flare feature. Multiple effects per light position can be defined and flares can be added only to certain light sources by placing a flare-mapped particle to the desired positions.

Depth of field

Depth of field is another camera specific effect. A camera object provides you with an intuitive interface to this effect.

To activate depth of field for a camera, just check the Depth of field check box in the property window's Spec tab. The aim point handle of the camera allows you to specify the distance at which scene renders sharp. By animating the position of the aim point, you can easily animate depth of field. The amount of depth of field depends on the focal length of the camera and F-stop value just like in real world cameras.

[Note] Note
You can also control the depth of field effect without a camera object. The module, which renders the effect, is included in the Default Effects configuration, which is available in the Post Image Effects tab of the select window. If you select the included depth of field effect and clear the Camera defined option using the property window, you can control its parameters independently of camera objects. See the Post Processing chapter for more information.

Animating cameras

Camera objects, just like any other geometric object, can be animated using various methods. For example, you can key frame cameras, use gravity to attract them, map them to a motion path and so on.

The key framer allows you to animate the position and orientation of the cameras easily. The program uses an advanced quaternion interpolation system to achieve smooth and intuitive camera rotations.

In many cases, either the camera rotates about its aim point or the aim point is rotated about the camera position. If you want to achieve the former effect, just drag the pivot point of the camera into the aim point. Then rotate the camera using the rotation handles to key frame it.

When using motion paths, banking needs some special attention. The path animation tool provides the most common banking control types. For example, you can select airplane type banking.

Lattice mapping system allows you to set up camera tracking animations easily. For example, you map the aim point of a camera to a moving object to make the camera follow the object automatically.

Connecting a view and a camera object

The view window supports a Tracking option. In other words, you can lock a view window to the current camera object. Whenever the camera object is moved or otherwise changed, the view window updates accordingly.

You can activate this feature from the view property window's Camera tab. If you set Tracking = Track animation play, the camera is updated only when animation time is changed.

If you set Tracking = Track always, the view window and the camera become completely synchronized. If you rotate the view window, the camera object is rotated accordingly. If the camera object changes, the view changes with it. Take care using this option when setting keyframes with animation recording ON, make sure to turn this feature OFF when you have finished recording. Otherwise you may ruin your carefully set camera keyframes by changing the view later.