Manual Reference Objects Scene Objects

Camera Object

Basic Coord. Object Depth

Camera Object

You can add as many cameras to the scene as you wish. When you create a new camera (Objects > Scene > Camera), the camera will adopt the position and focal length of the active view.

When placing and aligning a camera, CINEMA 4D uses the camera’s coordinate system. The Xaxis and Yaxis define the focal or film plane, and the Zaxis is the direction in which the camera is pointing.

In the viewports, the camera is shown as a cuboid with two spools of film and a lens.

Target Camera

In principle, a target camera (Objects > Scene > Target Camera ) is no different from the standard camera described above, except that a Target tag is assigned to the camera automatically and a target object (a null) is created. If you move the target object, the camera will rotate to follow it. Similarly, if you move the camera, the camera will rotate at the same time so that it continues to point at the target object.

Scene Cameras

Each view may have its own camera. The editor camera is used by default, but you may create and use your own cameras. When you create a camera, the camera is initially switched off, i.e. it isn’t used by the viewport. Position the camera as desired and, to switch it on for the viewport, choose the camera’s name from the viewport’s Cameras > Scene Cameras menu.

You can also switch a camera on for a viewport in the viewport settings (viewport: Edit > Configure) using the Linked Camera box on the View tab. Drag and drop the camera from the Object manager into the Linked Camera box.

Alternatively, the corresponding switch can simply be clicked in the Objects Manager.

Link Active Object

You can view a scene through any object, not just through a camera. In the Object manager, select the object that you want to use as the viewport’s camera. In the desired viewport, choose Cameras > Link Active Object.

Sometimes it’s useful to view the scene through particular objects. For example, when creating hair using the separately available Shave and a Haircut for CINEMA 4D plugin, you need to ensure that a light’s shadow cone just covers the hair (otherwise you’ll lose shadow definition). This is easy to check if you use the light as the camera. You can then re-size the shadow cone accurately so that it encompasses the hair.

When using an object as a viewport camera, the object’s Z-axis defines the viewing direction (as is the case with Camera objects).

Editor Camera

When you start a new scene, the viewports initially use the editor camera — an internal camera that you can’t see in the Object manager. If you’ve changed cameras to one of your own and want to switch back to the Editor Camera, use this command.

Adjusting the camera interactively

Although you can adjust the camera’s settings via the Attribute manager, the quickest way is to drag the camera’s handles in the viewport.

To try out the camera’s interactive handles:

  1. Choose File > New to create a new, empty document.
  2. Choose Objects > Scene > Camera to create a Camera object. On the Attribute manager’s Depth page, enable Front Blur and Rear Blur. Set the End value for Front Blur to 500 and the End value for Rear Blur to 1000.
  3. Now take a look at the camera object in the 3D viewport.
  4. In the 3D viewport, choose Edit > Frame Scene. Hold down the 2 key and drag left to zoom out, then hold down the 3 key and drag left or right to orbit the camera until you can see the camera object fully, as illustrated in Figure 1.

    Figure 1: Ensure that you can see all of the camera’s planes. The point that we’ve enclosed in a circle is the camera’s Target Distance. Drag this point - called a handle - to change the Target Distance value. In move mode or rotate mode, Shift-click and drag this point to rotate the camera about its axis and simultaneously change the target distance.

  5. In move mode or rotate mode, Shift-click and drag this point to rotate the camera about its axis and simultaneously change the target distance.
  6. On the same plane as the target point there are four further handles, each one midway along a side of the plane. This plane represents the camera’s Focal Length. Drag one of these handles to adjust the Focal Length interactively.
  7. There are two further, optional, planes that run parallel to the focal length plane — one in front and one at the back. These two planes (or just one of them) are available only if you select a depth of field (Front Blur, Rear Blur). At the center of each plane you’ll see another orange handle. Use this handle to shift the depth of field plane interactively along the camera’s Z-axis. Again, you can see these realtime adjustments in the viewport.
  8. You may also adjust the focal range i.e. the area that is shown in focus.

Keep in mind that it is always the active camera that is used for rendering.

To switch cameras during animation, use a Stage object.

Animating camera movements

In this section, you’ll find a few tips on how to go about animating camera movements in CINEMA 4D.

First, as a general rule, avoid using a single camera path for your entire movie. A single camera path tends to bore the viewer!

CINEMA 4D gives you two main ways to animate cameras. For both ways, you must first link the camera to the viewport — in the perspective view, choose the camera’s name from the Cameras > Scene Cameras submenu.

  1. The simplest method is to record keyframes for the camera’s position and rotation. This is achieved by moving and rotating the camera and recording keys at different times of the animation. Once the keys have been recorded, you can fine-tine the camera movements using the F-Curves for the tracks. Occasionally, this method can become tedious because you may need to edit multiple sequences (for the X, Y and Z components).

  2. A more refined method is to use a spline that acts as a path along which the camera is moved. To make the camera follow the spline, assign an Align To Spine tag to the camera, then drag and drop the spline into the tag’s Spine Path box. Next, animate the tag’s Position parameter.
    A flexible variant of the second method involves the use of two splines and a target camera that points at a null object. One spline is used for the camera path, and the other spline acts as a path that the null moves along (two Align To Spline tags will be needed this time, one for the camera and the other for the null). Naturally, the null must keep still at the times when the camera should look at the same position over a period of time.

    Animated camera and target.

    These two splines give you a very precise way to control the camera position and orientation. You can fine-tune the animation using the F-Curves of the two Position parameters (Align To Spline tags).

To ensure that the camera/null moves along the spline at a constant velocity, set the spline’s Intermediate Points to Uniform.

For extra realism, try adding a slight amount of shake to the camera using the Vibrate tag. Assign the tag to the splines, not to the camera and null (which are already controlled by other expression tags).

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