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Exploring important camera settings

From: CINEMA 4D Essentials 3: Cameras, Animation, and Deformers

Video: Exploring important camera settings

If you've ever tried to use a camera in the real world, you know that they have a lot of controls. CINEMA 4D's Camera Object is no different from that. There are a ton of settings there. I'm going to cover the most important ones in this movie. Before I can get started with that though, we need to have a Camera Object in the scene. So, let's go ahead and add one. I'm in the Perspective View; I'm going to click on the Add Camera Object Icon here. And now I have a Camera. The most important camera setting that there is, is actually not on the Camera Object. You can see that I've got a whole bunch of sections here on the Camera Attributes, but the most important one is actually in the Render Setting.

Exploring important camera settings

If you've ever tried to use a camera in the real world, you know that they have a lot of controls. CINEMA 4D's Camera Object is no different from that. There are a ton of settings there. I'm going to cover the most important ones in this movie. Before I can get started with that though, we need to have a Camera Object in the scene. So, let's go ahead and add one. I'm in the Perspective View; I'm going to click on the Add Camera Object Icon here. And now I have a Camera. The most important camera setting that there is, is actually not on the Camera Object. You can see that I've got a whole bunch of sections here on the Camera Attributes, but the most important one is actually in the Render Setting.

I'm going to bring up the Render Settings icon by clicking on this little button right here and you can see that it says Edit Render Settings. I can also get to this Window by going Command+B or Ctrl+B. The most important Camera Setting is the Aspect Ratio. The Aspect Ratio is the relationship with the width to the height to the viewport. If you're doing still images with a 35 millimeters still camera, then your Aspect Ratio is generally speaking 4x3. Older DV cameras are 4x3. Older television programs are done in 4x3.

New television programs that are done in HD for example are all done 16x9. Most films are done in 16x9 as well with some variations on that for different modern Aspect Ratios. For most of the things that you're going to be doing in CINEMA 4D, you're going to want it rendered to a 16x9 Aspect Ratio if you're an animator. If you're a print artist then the Aspect Ratio could change depending on the type of project you're working on. I'm going to assume that this is an animation project and talk about the Aspect Ratio in terms of being 16x9. There are some presets here and I can click on this and go to Film and Video and I can scroll down to one of the presets here and use that, but I normally never ever use these.

I've been using CINEMA 4D for a long time before this presets existed. And I find that they get a little bit too deep on the things that they change. And so, generally speaking most of my projects I changed the width and the height and the film aspect ratio will solve itself. So, I've got the width here which is 1280x720. I've set this ahead of time, but the way you can set this is by highlighting the field here. Let's say we wanted to do 1920x1080. I could set this to be 1920 and I can hit the Tab key. I got to hit it twice, because the first time I hit it, it tabs over to the pixels pull down, and I always render pixels.

You could set it to be millimeters or anything else, but pixel is the most relevant value. And then I hit the Tab key again, and I get to the height. And when I change this, you'll notice that the film aspect ratio is now showing a custom aspect of 2.667. When I change this to 1080, which is the normal HD Aspect Ratio, then I'm going to get this new film aspect being calculated. So, let's change this value here to 1080. And when I hit Enter, you'll see that the film aspect is changed to HDTV 16.9.

Now, you can click on this pull down, there's other Aspect Ratios that you can choose from, but for animation purposes, the HDTV 16.9 is the most important one. Once I've got my Aspect Ratio chosen, I click the Lock Ratio button and now I'm locked into this Aspect Ratio and no matter what value I put in here, I always get a 16x9 ratio. So for example, if I put in 640, I get a 360 Height and that still falls under the HDTV, it's still 16x9 on the Width/Height.

So, that is the most important Camera Setting. Whenever I add a Camera to the scene, the very first thing that I do is come to the Render Settings and change this Width and Height to match the Render Settings that I need to have for my particular project. So let's close up the Render Settings now. Now that we've got our camera set to the correct Aspect Ratio, let's go ahead and look through it. Now, I'm not looking through my Camera Body yet, so I'm going to click on the Look through Camera icon right there. And now that I'm looking through it, I'm going to zero it out. Let's go to the Camera and to the Coordinate Properties and zero out its Position and Rotation.

So, I'll hit 0, Tab, 0, Tab, 0. Never ever change the scale on a camera. It makes it do weird things. And I'm going to change the Rotation now, 0, Tab, 0, Tab, 0. And you can see I can't see my type anymore, that's because my camera actually is in the middle of the word. If I unchecked that Active Camera icon, you can see that there it is right between the T and the N. So let's look back through our camera. And then on the Z axis, I'll just scrub this value in the negative direction until I can see my word. Now, I'll scrub the Y value until my word is centered up right in the middle of the frame.

Now we can talk about the other settings on the camera. Under the Object Properties, the Object Properties is where you control the focal length of the lens. The focal length of the lens determines the Field of View that you're going to be seeing and also, the Length of the lens that you're using. So, what I mean by that is camera lenses come in different types. The most common is Wide Angle versus Telephoto. Now the default value that CINEMA 4D has here for its Field of View and Focal Length are considered to be a normal lens, the CINEMA 4D equivalent of a 50 millimeter lens in the real world.

I can change the focal length in anytime by adjusting the focal length value. Now there are some presets that I can use here where I can put in a specific value. Typically I'll either go with the Wide Angle or a more Telephoto Lens just by adjusting these values and doing it kind of by feel. If you're working on a visual effect shot though, you may have been giving specific settings by the director and you're going to want to use those and match them exactly. So you can put in those values for the lenses that they used on the shoot and get very, very close to matching that film exactly. So if I change this from a Classic Lens to something like a Super Wide, it looks like my object has gotten further away from the camera.

Really, the camera has not moved. If I middle mouse click and change to a Four Way View, and let's dolly out in the Top View and let's pan in here, I'm going to zoom in back, so I can see both my word and my camera. You can see, there's my Camera Object and there's my word right there. So, you can see that the Camera Object hasn't moved. What's changed is the Field of View, the Focal Length of the lens. It's now set to be a Wide Angle and I can see more of my scene. If I change this back to the Default which is 36 millimeter, you can see that the camera doesn't move, it's just changed that Field of View and the Focal Length.

If I go back into the Field of View and adjust that, you can see that this values change. The Focal Length is locked to the Field of view, so as I scrub the Field of View upward, my Focal Length gets shorter and shorter. Conversely, if I scrub my Field of View downward, my Focal Length gets longer and longer. A great rule of thumb of to use when you're trying to pick which focal length to use is that Wider Angle Lenses tend to give a much more dynamic feel to your scene, and Telephoto Lenses tend to flatten things out, and there are some really valid design reasons why you might want to do both of those things.

So, you can experiment with them to see which one works best for your project. Another important setting is something called the Focus Distance. When you start working with Depth of Field, the focus distance is going to become extremely important for determining which parts of your image are in focus. And the focus distance is this field here, and it's represented by the end of this little triangle that extends outward from the camera. By adjusting the focus distance inward or outward, I can determine where my camera will be focused on, when I start to mess with Depth of Field. And by default, CINEMA 4D's camera is infinitely in focus, but you can change that by messing with the Depth of Field Settings.

And we'll talk about that more in the next movie.

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