A few thoughts on camera placement

Now, how can you change your camera settings?

To do this, you need to get into your viewer’s debug settings. To get there, you need to first make the “Advanced” menu appear. If you’re using a PC (Windows or Linux, it doesn’t matter), you can activate this menu with the Ctrl+Alt+D shortcut. Mac users will have to use the Command+Option+D shortcut. Then, you’ll get into the “Advanced” menu and choose “Debug Settings”. Alternatively, you can just hit Ctrl+Alt+Shift+S (Command+Option+Shift+S for Mac users) and go directly to the debug settings. Or, if you’re a Firestorm user, you can go to “Preferences” and from the “Advanced” tab check the option I’ve marked with the green dot to enable the “Advanced” menu.

<i>Firestorm users have the opportunity to activate the "Advanced" menu simply from the "Preferences" menu - the green dot shows which option you need to check.</i>

Firestorm users have the opportunity to activate the “Advanced” menu simply from the “Preferences” menu – the green dot shows which option you need to check.

Now, let’s get to the settings themselves… Penny lists her own choices. These include settings for those of you who want your avatar to be placed on the left or the right of the viewer window. For me, having my avatar in the centre works best, and I think the majority of users feel the same way too. For the other settings, please go to Penny’s post, or the ones by Exotix (Inara Pey) and Ciaran Laval.

The parameters you need to look for are:

  • CameraOffsetRearView (CameraOffsetDefault for antiquated crapV1.x-based viewers)
  • FocusOffsetRearView (FocusOffsetDefault for antiquated crapV1.x-based viewers)
  • CameraOffsetScale

So, Penny Patton’s settings for an over-the-shoulder, avatar-in-centre view are…

CameraOffsetRearView:

X -2.000

Y 0.000

Z -0.200

FocusOffsetRearView:

X 0.900

Y 0.000

Z 0.200

CameraOffsetScale:

1.500

Please note that, if you’re using a pile of old toshV1.x-based viewer, you’ll need to relog for these changes to take effect. In modern viewers, you won’t have to relog; they’ll take effect right away.

My personal camera offsets

Personally, I think even these settings are a tad conservative, so I fiddled around a bit and made my own – I also made settings for the front view, which most of us tend to neglect. For my settings, you’ll need to also adjust the CameraOffsetFrontView and the FocusOffsetFrontView settings. So, you’ll have to change five settings in total – if you want, of course. And yes, I believe you’re using a modern viewer.

Let’s go through the list, shall we?

  • CameraOffsetFrontView
  • CameraOffsetRearView
  • FocusOffsetFrontView
  • FocusOffsetRearView
  • CameraOffsetScale

The settings are (I’ve grouped the front and rear view together for your convenience – and I adjust the CameraOffsetScale parameter before others, again to make things a little more convenient):

CameraOffsetScale:

1.350

CameraOffsetFrontView:

X 1.950

Y 0.000

z -.0350

FocusOffsetFrontView:

X 0.900

Y 0.000

Z 0.350

CameraOffsetRearView:

X -1.950

Y 0.000

Z -0.350

FocusOffsetRearView:

X 0.900

Y 0.000

Z 0.250

And I’m going to give you a few images for comparison’s sake… Uncropped images, straight from the viewer.

This is what I see in the "behind-the-avatar" view with my camera settings. And yes, this place is my home, about 13 meters wide and 19 meters long.

This is what I see in the “behind-the-avatar” view with my camera settings. And yes, this place is my home, about 13 meters wide and 19 meters long.

And this is the - often neglected - front view...

And this is the – often neglected – front view…

Now, compare these to SL’s default camera settings…

And this is the default SL view.

And this is the default SL view.

And the front view - using SL's default settings.

And the front view – using SL’s default settings.

Which settings make you feel more like you’re actually in the room with the avatar? I think this one’s a no-brainer, really. The modified settings bring more of your avatar into view and the perspective really is a lot better.

Some final words…

Of course, my settings, as well as those proposed by Penny Patton, are here for reference and for you to adjust your view to your liking. They are not set in stone. So, give them a try, and tweak things for your own enjoyment.

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See also:

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Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2pUmX-gT

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15 thoughts on “A few thoughts on camera placement

    1. Penny did some excellent work in this department. Also, last night I found a prime example of completely out-of-scale building at one of my favourite sims: a set of bar counter and bar stools that’s completely out of whack. The bar stools are about 2 meters tall, and the counter is taller than that.

  1. While I actually use Penny’s offsets – and have done for the past 3 years-ish – the fact that you have stated elsewhere that you find them “too conservative” highlights the core problem with LL adopting them / changing their current defaults. That is: whatever is done won’t please everyone. Ergo, the Lab won’t see this as a priority item, and will take the view that, as people who want to will change their default camera placement will do so regardless, why should they bother changing something people will revise?

    Perhaps a better campaign to have would be to encourage TPVs to offer-up the camera offset debugs through a UI floater (if possible) which makes it easier for people to adjust their offsets without having to dig into the Debug settings.

    This would score in two ways: firstly, make the options easier to change (and perhaps enable the settings to be saved as a part of a settings back-up for those viewers which support such an ability); secondly, encourage people who might otherwise be put off at the idea of playing with Debug settings to have a little play with the camera settings. Who knows, if such a capability was well-coded and contributed via Snowstorm, it might eventually even end up in the official viewer (although I personally wouldn’t hold my breath on that).

    1. Thank You for Your comment. It seems crazy, though: Akismet had thrown it in the spam folder and I had to retrieve it from there (while it allowed an obvious spam comment to get through to the pending ones). WordPress/Akismet shenanigans aside, it’s time for me to get down to business and respond to Your comment properly.

      Indeed, it’s impossible to please everyone. Designing anything, after all, as all engineers say, a process that involves multiple compromises.

      I disagree, however, with the “people will change the settings, so why bother?” attitude that seems to characterise LL’s mentality. The reason is that it simply doesn’t hurt at all to have a good base to start with. And Penny’s settings are a really good place to start. And yes, they allow for better immersion and, of course, they enable people to build to scale.

      The idea of encouraging TPVs to make the camera offset debug settings easily accessible is really good. As a matter of fact, I had filed a JIRA for Firestorm not that long ago, suggesting that these settings become part of the Phototools floater.

      Also, I think it’d be great if some influential TPVs campaigned to advertise these improved offsets (and the offset tweaking ability) – that way, users (new and old) would end up actually wanting these settings.

      Would this “break content”, though? I think not. What I believe would happen is that some already obsolete and out of scale content would become even more obsolete. Then again, as I said, that’s what a product’s life cycle is like.

      1. I’m not saying the Lab’s attitude makes sense, I’m just saying that I can see that’s how they view things.

        As to the FS JIRA – well done. I’ll go vote / watch it when I can get over there.

        As to WP and screw-ups. No worries. I’m having severe issues myself at the moment as my ISP seems to be blocking WordPress.com access periodically (as has been reported in the WP forums – bot WP’s fault, but annoying to those of us experiencing things). I also note that, again, the like I gave this post on reading it has vanished.

        1. Certainly, we can both see how LL looks at things and this “why bother?” outlook is frustrating. As for Your idea for TPVs, I fully endorse it. After all, TPVs can far more easily do pioneering work for SL.

  2. I used penny’s in all the viewers i have till i replaced them with Niran’s default one that i’m more used to (Yes i know you think Niran’s is shit, but is the only viewer that comes by default with scaled propotional camera !)

  3. I’ve used Penny’s settings in the past and they work well, there’s some extremely useful advice in Penny’s blogs but I can’t see LL setting the default views to Penny’s suggestions, largely because there would be a backlash, although if people stuck with those settings, they’d sure see the benefits.

    1. And this brings us to something that Exotix (Inara Pey) pointed out a few comments back:

      Perhaps a better campaign to have would be to encourage TPVs to offer-up the camera offset debugs through a UI floater (if possible) which makes it easier for people to adjust their offsets without having to dig into the Debug settings.

      TPVs could more easily offer these camera settings as default or as an option (perhaps with a capability for the users to make their own presets, why not?). In fact, I believe that Firestorm’s Phototools floater could be easily enhanced like this (see the JIRA I filed on this). Newer users, who are perhaps familiar with the camera settings that Resident Evil 4 used (and became the industry standard ever since), will certainly appreciate this. And older users (hey, who said older users are really that fond of the default settings would perhaps notice that these offer an improved experience.

  4. Thanks for providing an update to this important subject. I’ve used Penny’s settings for sometime, but your article prompted me to review and tweak them. I’ve very much in the immersive/realism camp and I find these camera settings further serve to enrich my experience in SL, in addition to my proportions, which I’ve adjusted to approximate my RL self as much as possible. While doubtful that the idea will take off, I’m just glad that I’ve got this perspective on the world, as it makes a massive difference to my enjoyment. Thanks!

    1. Thank you Becky. It’s unfortunate that, when I brought this subject to Oz in the Open Dev User Group meeting, he said this would never be considered, because of the (perceived) fear of people protesting something like that (I think I explained it in my post). But really, these settings improve my SL experience a lot and I wish the wide-angle lens perspective that is the default in SL behaved like an orthographic lens and did away with the barrel distortion in the centre of the field-of-view and the sloping verticals near the edges.

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