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View Full Version : using a controller for the camera like Cameron in Avatar?



3dWannabe
01-19-2010, 10:47 AM
Read an article in CGW where Cameron used a 'steering wheel' to control the virtual camera in his CG shots.

I was wondering if there was a way to use the type of controls you'd see for Microsoft Flight Simulator to control camera motion?

On the Macintosh, I could map the device to do anything using ControllerMate (which I'm using to map my Logitech mouse to pretty much anything I want - very, very indispensable utility).

http://www.orderedbytes.com/controllermate/

On the PC, I'm don't know of any HID drivers that will do this.

But - just curious if anyone had done this in some manner, on the Mac or PC?

biliousfrog
01-19-2010, 11:22 AM
Most people would use something like the 3dConnexion devices: http://www.3dconnexion.com/products/spacepilot.html

They don't work with Lightwave though...although I think that I read that someone had managed to get some functionality.

3dWannabe
01-19-2010, 12:05 PM
the 3dConnexion device looks interesting.

I think if you were really brave, you could use this driver, which some have gotten to work with win7-64

http://www.3dconnexion.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=336

I wish there were driver software like ControllerMate for the PC - as if you have it setup as a driver, you can make it work with any software.

jin choung
01-19-2010, 04:29 PM
a wiimote or TRACKIR would be a better solution.

they would give you a small tracking volume and you'd be limited to the 179degrees facing the ir cam but within those restrictions, it would be about as good a solution as you can get for $150.

jin

SplineGod
01-20-2010, 02:42 AM
The controller James Cameron used when in the virtual art dept was nothing like a steering wheel. It was more like what Jin is describing. Essentially he would use that as a camera to move around a scene in real time.
Blender would be ideal with its built in game engine and scriptability. :)

jin choung
01-20-2010, 03:05 AM
The controller James Cameron used when in the virtual art dept was nothing like a steering wheel.

right it wasn't turning anything rack and pinion but i think cinefex called this dealy http://www.vizworld.com/2010/01/avatars-special-effects-enhanced-overdrive-technology/ http://www.surrealaward.com/avatar/3ddigital04.shtml a "steering wheel" type device.

you'd know first hand but the cinefex article also mentioned that though they took some time coming up with that thing, he didn't end up using it much and switched to something more camera like?

and yeah, it would be sweet if blender gets a robust driver library for things like the wiimote, trackir and freetrack... in the meantime, maya's got the only good and free (at least in terms of software) solution with a wiimote: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Btrx1PjKeTY .

if you look up wiimote at highend http://www.creativecrash.com/maya/downloads/scripts-plugins/animation/c/wiimote-server-and-wiicam-for-maya http://www.creativecrash.com/maya/downloads/scripts-plugins/animation/c/wiimote-device-editor , you get a couple of links to scripts that will let you do some nice capture into maya. but the best setup would be to use the wiimote as a camera and then hold the ir bar as your virtual cam... the capture volume being determined by the wiimote's fov.

you're limited to the volume (not too bad if you take a few steps back) and can't turn away from the 179degs in front of the single camera... but if you mount your camera to a null and use the null for gross motions and rotations and use the MOVEMENT SCALE settings, you should be able to get shockingly good results for the price of a wiimote, bluetooth dongle and an ir bar (trip to radioshack).

at the very least, garage solutions like this would be handy for some handheld looking shots as well as being a replacement for lipstick cam and toys for roughNreddy previz.

jin

SplineGod
01-20-2010, 04:02 AM
Ive seen several articles on the web about using a wii remote with a PC. I think it would be quite useful for using as a virtual camera. I watched James Cameron use the high tech wii remote which was small enough to fit in his hand. What was cool was that we could immediately go and move or remove trees, rocks etc from a shot. Most of the actual camera work in the movie was done by the group at Lightstorm and some over at the stage.
Kudos to Rob Powers for developing and fine tuning the idea. Id also like to see this developed further to make it more accessible. :)

3dWannabe
01-21-2010, 06:08 PM
Here's a 20 minute film showing Cameron using the controller on Avatar set.

http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1809804784/video/17711648

Dexter2999
01-22-2010, 10:38 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jd3-eiid-Uw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgKCrGvShZs&feature=related

I saw this video a couple of years ago. I can' put my finger on it but I think if you tweaked the software and fed it back into the camera viewfinder you would be onto something.

Greenlaw
01-22-2010, 12:18 PM
We have a wiimote set up at work and we use it to do eng-style camera work and more realistic camera bumps and shakes. The motion data is recorded in Maya and then exported to either LightWave or Fusion. (I think via FBX, which is also how we get Lightwave cameras into Fusion.) I don't know exactly how it works, but it does and it does it surprisingly well.

Greenlaw

OnlineRender
01-22-2010, 02:24 PM
we have a wiimote set up at work and we use it to do eng-style camera work and more realistic camera bumps and shakes. Greenlaw

that's just cool

Red_Oddity
01-22-2010, 02:45 PM
You'll love this one, done by the Mill : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SALSn9E1fkc

Red_Oddity
01-22-2010, 02:53 PM
Also, this one works very well as well, i was surprised by the accuracy when we connected it to our workstations for the first time

http://www.naturalpoint.com/trackir/

We just requested the OptiTrack SDK to see if we can get TrackIR data into Maya (and maybe LW)

(i think i have seen Jin on the forums there as well before, i wonder how far he got with TrackIR)

OnlineRender
01-22-2010, 02:56 PM
just for Cheapness "that words getting used alot these days " anyway , is there not a pluggin by sensi "me thinks" that has the WASD controll function ...........?

who was the ONLY dude that got LW on Linux working !!! also there's another pluggin via flay that lets you get ps2/3 controller working

OnlineRender
01-22-2010, 02:59 PM
You'll love this one, done by the Mill : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SALSn9E1fkc

just wet my pants :rock:

OnlineRender
01-22-2010, 03:00 PM
Still not as good as NES GLOVE

Red_Oddity
01-22-2010, 04:28 PM
Still not as good as NES GLOVE

LOL, we have one of these : http://www.vrealities.com/P5.html , does that count?

OnlineRender
01-22-2010, 05:22 PM
LOL, we have one of these : http://www.vrealities.com/P5.html , does that count?

still not as good as NES but ye that will do , now I want to come and work for you :rock: best showreel I've seen , some excellent work .........................................

jin choung
01-22-2010, 05:26 PM
You'll love this one, done by the Mill : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SALSn9E1fkc

yeah but that's just bog standard camera/object tracking using something like boujou or syntheyes.

in fact, if the video from the iphone camera were better (i.e. no rolling shutter), they wouldn't need to mocap the camera at all... just camera track...

the big deal with cameron's stuff (as well as LOTR1 and SURFS UP) is that the cam operator can see the virtual environment WHILE HE'S SHOOTING.

oh, and yah - i was on the trackir forums and there is a youtube video of a trackir to maya plugin but i haven't been able to track that guy down.

so far, the only super cheap solution is the wiimote drivers and scripts for maya. too bad because i already have a trackir5 and this would have been a great little tool to have.

jin

3dWannabe
08-15-2010, 08:49 PM
We have a wiimote set up at work and we use it to do eng-style camera work and more realistic camera bumps and shakes. The motion data is recorded in Maya and then exported to either LightWave or Fusion. (I think via FBX, which is also how we get Lightwave cameras into Fusion.) I don't know exactly how it works, but it does and it does it surprisingly well.

Greenlaw
Are you still using this method? Has anything changed? Could Motion Builder be used?

I'm very interested in finding a way to use a controller (I guess like some sort of spaceship controller with an airplane-type controls) to control camera movements in Lightwave and Fusion.

Ideally, while in perspective view of Lightwave or Fusion. But, I suppose one could export some geometry into Maya or ?MotionBuilder?, do the camera moves there, and bring the camera moves back?

BTW - I saw in another post that Fusion can read an earlier version of Lightwave natively. I'll have to look into this.