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In 3ds Max 2011 Essential Training, author Aaron F. Ross demonstrates how to use this top-tier application for digital content creation, widely used in diverse industries such as architecture, industrial design, motion pictures, games and virtual worlds. This course covers modeling with polygons, curves, and subdivision surfaces, defining surface properties with materials and maps, setting up cameras and lights, animating objects, and final output rendering. Exercise files accompany the course.
One of the most basic properties of a camera is its Field of View. Is it a wide angle or a tight angle? In other words, how we set the zoom lens on the camera? In order to see this most clearly, you want to have the camera selected. When it's selected, you will see this pyramid here, which is more properly called the Frustum. This is indicating the area of the scene that is visible to the camera. In the Modify panel, you will see there is an option that says Show Cone, and in fact, if that is on, then the Frustum will always be displayed, even if the camera is not selected.
So that's kind of useful. So I am going to have that enabled. So changing Field of View can be done in numerous ways. One would be to use the Modify panel. So you will see Field of View here or FOV. It's currently 45 degrees, so that means the angle here of this Frustum or Cone is 45 degrees. So if I increase that Field of View, we are going to get a wider angle shot to take in more of the scene. Notice that Field of View does not affect the camera position. So just like with a real camera, if we adjust the zoom lens, we are going to take in more or less of the scene while the camera remains static in one position.
So if I want a tighter angle, zoom in to a tighter part of my scene, I can have a narrower Field of View. The default of 45 degrees is actually designed to mimic the Field of View of the human eye or more properly not the Field of View of the human eye, but the amount of perspective distortion or foreshortening that we see with our eyes. So this camera doesn't have peripheral vision like we do, but with the Field of View of 45 degrees, that approximates the amount of distortion that we see in the real world, based upon the fact that we are in a particular location in our eye is that a fixed position it has certain optical properties.
So Field of View is set to 45 by default. If you're doing interior design or architecture work, it's very common that you would need a greater Field of View to take in more of the scene, especially if you're inside a closed space. You'll notice that when I change the Field of View, that this Lens parameter is also changing in real-time. So this is the focal length of the lens, and it's in millimeters here. You'll only need to worry about this if you're trying to match your rendering to a photograph or a live-action footage.
In general, don't worry so much about the lens value. The Field of View is more important. Another way that you can adjust Field of View is interactively in the Viewport. So if you select an active camera view, you'll see that there is also a Field of View control in the Viewport Navigation icons. So I can click on that button, and I can also adjust Field of View interactively in the Viewport. And in fact, Field of View also exists in a Perspective View. So let me just show you that too, because this can help when you are trying to navigate through a scene.
If I go to the Perspective View, I've also got a Field of View control in the Perspective View as well. I will go back to the camera view, back to the Field of View icon, and I just want to mention that if you have an extremely wide angle view, anything more than, let's say, 90 or 100 degrees, you're going to have a pretty severe amount of perspective distortion, and it's clearer if you dolly forward closer into the scene. So I'll use the Dolly Tool and get in closer here, and we are going to get some pretty extreme distortion here, and that looks kind of nice in this case from this one point of view, but then if I try to tumble around or orbit around here, we are going to start to see that it's looking kind of unrealistic-ish, and part of the reason why is CG cameras do not obey the same optical laws as real cameras.
In fact, with a real camera when you have a wide angle lens, the edges of the screen basically becomes smaller and objects in the center become larger, and that's called Barrel Distortion. You've probably seen that with a Fisheye lens. CG cameras actually work completely opposite and objects in the center of the screen become smaller and objects on the edge become larger. So in fact, it's the opposite of real optics, and this causes a lot of headaches for people trying to match to live-action footage.
In our case, we are not going to sweat over it too much, just knowing that a Field of View of about 90 or 100 degrees is about as far as we can push it and expect a realistic result that won't disorient our viewers. So that's Field of View.
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