Welcome to the exciting world of intelligent camera control! This blog will follow the progress of my senior design project, so stay tuned for updates.
Before I get into the nitty-gritty of virtual cinematography and how I plan to implement it, let's start at the very beginning. Here is the abstract of my project:
Users often view virtual worlds through only two cameras: a camera which they control manually, or a very basic automatic camera which follows their character or provides a wide shot of the environment. Yet real cinematography features so much more variety: establishing shots and close-ups, tracking shots and zooms, shot/reverse-shot, bird's eye views and worm's eye views, long-takes and quick cuts, depth of field and rack-focus, and more. For my project, I plan to implement an "intelligent camera" for use in a virtual 3D world using the Unity game engine: As events occur in real-time, this camera will automatically choose shots to depict them, and essentially create a "virtual documentary" of the events as they happen.
The camera will need to position, pan, tilt, zoom, and track as necessary to keep an unobstructed view of events in frame, while obeying traditional standards of cinematography (following the 180-degree rule, avoiding jump-cuts, etc). An artist can also play the role of "director" and give the camera instructions, such as ordering it to place more priority on one event over another, drawing a certain path for the camera to follow, and moving the camera to different vantage points (to mimic a helicopter or crane-shot, for example); when not being given specific orders, the camera will revert to its automatic "intelligent" state. Ultimately, a user should be able to place multiple intelligent cameras in the 3D world, trigger events to occur, and then cut between the cameras to watch a well-shot "documentary" of the events be constructed in real time.
Coming soon: My design documents, which more specifically detail how I plan to go about my project. Also, because this incorporates many techniques from shooting live-action film, I'll explain any terminology and concepts of real-life cinematography that I will be referring to later.