Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bally Roller and the Half-Shot Idiom

Last week, I managed to get basic cutting implemented. I said that my next goal would be to get basic idioms implemented, and decided to try tackling a basic dialogue scene. Let's check out some footage! (Note: Please watch this with another person so that both of you can provide improvised voice-overs for the characters)

And there you have it! Obviously, it's not a very exciting discussion: the camera just switches between two over-the-shoulder shots. But this is really the final piece in the foundational puzzle of my intelligent camera system: now the camera behavior trees handle different types of events with different shot idioms. So as you can see, cameras are reacting to a "follow" event by alternating between tracking shots and panning shots; they react to a "dialogue" event by alternating between over-the-shoulder shots. But now that I know that the behavior tree can handle more than one type of event, and more than one type of shot, it should be simple to add more. Awesome.

I'm going to work on more shots first, because many events will share the same types of shots (and just employ them differently). Currently, initial shot choices are handled by using an invisible dummy: the dummy starts at the position of the target and flies away from it in a certain direction; once the dummy reaches a predetermined distance, or collides with something, it stops. That way, when the camera warps to the position of the dummy, it should start with a clear view of the target (and if the target is within a box, for example, the camera will be inside the box too). For some events, such as the dialogue, the dummy and camera need to worry about multiple targets—in this case, for an "over-the-shoulder A" shot (that's over character A's shoulder, towards character B), the dummy starts at A, and moves backwards and to the side to get B in frame as well. Essentially, every type of shot has different instructions for the dummy, and then different instructions for how the camera should film the target. Soon I'll be adding aerial shots, establishing shots, reverse-tracking shots, close-ups, and so on.

But first, I do want to work a bit on the other part of my project: user constraints. While the program is running, the user should be able to click on a camera and get a little pop-up window allowing them to adjust settings on the fly (such as how often to cut, whether to only stick to certain types of shots, etc). I'm not sure how difficult this kind of thing is to do in Unity, but I want to start figuring that out as soon as possible.

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