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In LightWave 10 Essential Training, author Dan Ablan provides thorough, step-by-step instructions on building 3D models, scenes, and animations in LightWave 10. Beginning with a tour of the interface and LightWave's two main programs, Modeler and Layout, the course covers key concepts such as building models from basic polygonal shapes, assigning textures, and employing lights and 3D cameras to build real world scenes. Also included are tutorials explaining particle animation, dynamics, and bones. Exercise files accompany the course.
Lighting of course is a huge part of your 3D scene, but so is your camera. What the camera sees is a huge part of how the final animation appeals to the viewer. In the past people just left their camera pretty much where it was. They didn't change it much, they didn't change the angle, they just zoomed in and left it there. These days you can do a lot more with the camera. Down at the very bottom of the screen I've selected the Cameras list and I'll hit P to open up the Properties tab. The Camera Properties is where you can set the Resolution, Antialiasing, and other values that determine how your camera's viewed.
So let's start with the top. You've got multiple cameras in LightWave. You've got an Advanced Camera, a Classic, Orthogonal, Perspective, a Real Lens Camera, a Shift Camera and a Surface Baking Camera. The Classic Camera works well with older LightWave scenes and that's what comes up often and most often. The current camera right here if we have multiple cameras in our scene we can choose from that list, just the way we would with multiple lights. The Focal Length, that's set to 24 mm and I'll show you my scene here.
That's what 24 mm looks like. If I click and drag, I can widen out and I can come down really wide like this. Sometimes it's fun to do and I rarely see people do this on a 3D scene and it's something you should consider. So if the camera is selected and I go to Modify and I press Move, now I can move in and I've got just a really strong kind of cool wide-angle and you could do this on buildings. If you want to give the appearance that somebody is a little tipsy or something, and you want to do their point of view in a scene, you can right-click and rotate and just it give it that really cool kind of look.
By the same token you can go the other way, and really zoom in on something. So I am going to increase my Zoom factor here, my Lens Focal Length, quite a bit to about a 120 mm or so and then I am going to select Move and I am going to pull my camera all the way out. I am going to move it up. Now this is a little harder to set up because you are working with a limited field of view. So you're going to make sure that you rotate, just click Rotate in the left there and then T, I can move that back. Now what would you use camera like this for? Well, if you take a look, look at my scene, completely opposite of that wide-angle.
Everything kind of gets flattened out. So if you want a very illustrative look, maybe you are doing architecture and you don't want a very strong perspective, you can just change that by zooming in the camera. When I say zooming in-- let me take a look at the Perspective view. Take a look at the representation of the camera. Down here on the bottom left you could see that's a very long lens and open up the Properties again. If I change this back to let's say 24 mm, notice that I've got a wider field of view for the camera.
So that's all it's doing. It's actually zooming the camera in, just as you would in the real world and that's really nice to do, especially when you hit the E key and set an Envelope. You can actually zoom as if you are pressing the Zoom button on a camera. The other types of cameras are Advanced. Now the Advanced camera is pretty intense. What it can do though is allow you to use an object as a camera. Now I know that sounds a little odd, but imagine this. Imagine if you are animating a roller coaster and you've got one camera traveling down following the roller coaster and suddenly you've got a animated character and you want to see what the character is seeing, or you want to see what the roller coaster is seeing. You can set the camera to be one of those objects and that's why you see an object listed here.
The same can be for the Ray Direction, which way the shadows and ray tracing are calculated as well as the depth. So a very neat thing to do is set that up and use a camera within an object. The orthogonal camera, Orthographic, will render from a very strong narrow point of view. Basically a straight on point of view, so let's do this. I am going to go back to my Classic Camera, go back to a default 24 mm. We'll take a look at the Camera view through our camera profile here.
Press the T key and I am just going to move in. I am going to use my right mouse to move down, left mouse to push in, get back to somewhat a normal shot, and then we'll choose the Orthographic camera and look what happens. It just kind of looks odd, right? Well, let's increase the Vertical Size, just increase it and look what happens. Essentially you are rendering from just a straight-on view, no perspective whatsoever and I know that a lot of architects and illustrators really like this view. So it's got their very kind of Pro-E CAD type of look, so an Orthographic Camera.
Perspective Camera, this is your most current camera and your most common. So you are going to want most of your animations done in the Perspective Camera or the Classic Camera, either one, but Perspective is the newer one. In this, you can set your focal length like we've done. Your resolution, all different presets in here, so often I render out at an HD resolution, 1920x1080, and that sets the proper width and height. Aspect Ratio is the size of your pixel and for the most part you rarely going to change this these days.
Back in the early days when we used to render for broadcast this used to have to be 0.9, rectangular pixels for broadcast. But these days it's one or sometimes you might go 1.2 if you are doing a widescreen. You can set Antialiasing to clean the edges and how that Antialiasing is done is determined with a Soft Gaussian filter like you would in Photoshop. You put Soft Filter on, and then you've got Motion Blur and motion effects down at the bottom and simply just put on Photoreal and you suddenly have motion blur for things that are moving.
You have a Real Lens Camera. Now this camera will allow you to choose a certain camera such as a Nikon and the type of camera and the type of lens. Or if you've got a pro camera and you've got a Nikon D2X or D3, which I have but they don't have listed, or if you have Leica, which is great, you can choose that and choose the type of lens. And let me go to Canon here, something more common. Canon SLR 35mm and let's say you've got a 24 to 70, 2.8 lens.
This camera will match those settings. So if you want to do any kind of compositing and blend your 3D with a real shot you can do it with the Real Lens Camera. You have a Shift Camera, and a Shift Camera in LightWave is like a tilt shift camera and what it will do is allow you to blur various parts of the image. So you can have a horizontal or vertical offset for the camera and what that will do is give you a concentrated focus in one part of the scene, let's say on the very first cup.
So a tilt shift lens, it's what that does. Finally, a Surface Baking Camera and what this will do is bake, meaning it will record and make an image map of what your camera sees and then you can take that image and remap it onto other objects within your scene. The advantage of doing something like this is a speedier render. Often video games have baked images with a Surface Baking Camera. The last thing you need to talk about with cameras, and we'll go back to a Perspective Camera, is the Use Global function.
In the render, in order to get things rendered out you have to make sure that you set the width and the height, the resolution that you want and the antialiasing. Often 9 is good, or more. But if you click Use Global, it suddenly turns off all those settings. And if I Hit Use Global down here, it turns off all those settings, and I like to do that because then in my Render tab under Render Globals, under the General tab, I can control my first and Llast frame and my width and height and my aspect ratio all from here.
So you're going to find these parts in two places. So as long as you hit Use Globals in the Camera panel you'll be able to control your resolution from the Render Globals panel. And that's a good idea because it's through this process you're going to set your frame rate, how long your animation is, the type of things that are going to render such as shadows and transparency, filtering for smooth edges, Global Illumination, yes or no, and then where you are going to save everything. So in our rendering videos we'll work through all of these.
So the cameras in LightWave are just as powerful as the lights as well as your objects. It's always something to consider, so don't put them off. Don't not think about how the camera should be used. It's just as important as the objects and lights in your scene.
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