Thursday, March 3, 2011

Coming Attractions

I had a pretty busy week of projects and midterms this week, so you'll have to wait for the world premiere of the next installment of the "Roll Hard" series.

Previously on "Intelligent Camera Control":
Last week we had alpha reviews, and I got some great feedback, so thanks to everyone on the review panel! I've updated my Design Documents to reflect the changes to my approach (primarily the fact that behavior trees are a bigger part of my project than I originally envisioned, because I didn't know they existed before), so you can check that out below.

Rated 'G' for "Genres":
During the Q/A portion of the alpha review, I talked more about "camera genres." Originally I was thinking of this as a pie-in-the-sky future addition to the project, and it's still something that I'll work on after I get everything else working, but it's definitely something I want to do. The idea is that you can set individual cameras to film in certain genres, which will change their behavior—for instance, an Action camera would cut often and have lots of shaky-cam, while a Romantic Comedy camera would have longer takes and use soft focus. To implement this, I'm thinking that the cameras will have variables for different traits that go from 0 to 1—they'll be traits like cutting speed (long takes vs. quick cuts), mobility (stationary vs. hyper), focus (deep vs. shallow), and so on. Within the idioms of the behavior tree, the camera will use these values when making decisions. Then the genres will just weigh things differently. Of course, maybe certain genres can have certain specific traits—a Film Noir camera that shoots in high-contrast black and white, maybe?

Give a Hoot, Read a Book:
Another major change to my Design Document is the addition of a new reference: "Real Time Cameras," by Mark Haigh-Hutchinson (thanks, Joe!). While this book focuses mainly on video games (so it involves much more input by players than I'm working with, and also focuses on specific things like cameras for 2D games and first person shooters), it seems like it will be extremely handy for getting a camera to follow events while avoiding obstacles and keeping the event unoccluded. It includes pseudocode too, which is always nice! Plus, it's all about camera control in real time, which already makes it more useful than many of the other papers I'm using as references. I'm currently reading through it, so I'll post more updates as I come across more useful things.

Next time on "Intelligent Camera Control":
Currently cameras are just using tweaked versions of Smooth Follow and Smooth Look At to film events. I've been building a more complex environment of tunnels, turns, and obstacles, so my next goal is to get the cameras to handle mobile events better: this involves preventing the camera from colliding with obstacles, keeping the target event unoccluded, and figuring out the best path to take. I'm going to read through "Real Time Cameras," and take another look at some other papers—"Visibility Transition Planning for Dynamic Camera Control" ([OSTG09]) seems like it will be useful, since it's all about moving a camera while keeping a target in view. Once cameras can handle events in single shots properly, I can finally move on to cutting and idioms!

Anyway, Spring Break is next week, so updates will slow down for a bit. But after that... Well, I don't want to overhype "Live Free or Roll Hard," but let's just say that it will be the most amazing video you've ever seen of a sphere rolling down a hill through a curvy tunnel into a wall. Probably.

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