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<  3D Aesthetics  ~  Camera angles

Michael
Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2002 8:56 am Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 8065 Location: Gent, Belgium
The screen of most first and third person games is laid out the same throughout the game: main character in the middle of the screen and behind him or her, the game world changes. In some games, like Silent Hill and Ico, you get a different camera angle once in a while (for dramatic effect) but in most part of the game the character is in the middle. (And Ico and Silent Hill are already exceptions to the rule since we often get to see other sides of the main character than his back.)

This occurs to me as a very primitive concept. It's the way a young child draws. Aren't there more mature (or modern?) ways of laying out a first/third person game screen or is the centering of the character in the middle necessary for gameplay?
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FireCeremony
Posted: Thu Jul 04, 2002 10:32 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 04 Jul 2002 Posts: 7 Location: Norway
Camera angle is one of the things reviewers and players complain about the most I think, and the preference for how the camera should work (fixed or movable) is very individual and probably based on habit.



Some seem to prefer a fixed camera while others want a movable one and something which allows you to see in one direction while moving the character in the another direction.



The camera angles in Silent Hill 2 worked because the camera didn't get in the way of seeing and managed to follow the action to a reasonable level (I didn't notice it lagging behind much, except for when doing 180 degree turns).



I don't think having the camera centered behind and above the main character is strictly necessary, other angles is a matter of habit I think, but if game play is based on visual exploration and clues, it's necessary to have an "exploration" view with a movable camera.
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Michael
Posted: Fri Jul 05, 2002 1:19 am Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 8065 Location: Gent, Belgium
Yes, motion of the camera is important to give the player a feeling of space. That is something a static flat plane cannot offer. Camera motion is used to make up for the fact that a computer monitor is a 2D and not 3D output device.

That does not necessarily provide for the best (2D) images one could get, but the architecture of the space could compliment this. Architecture is best experienced in motion.

Camera angles, however, can tell a story. The framing of an image is a narrative element. So, depending on the priority of the game or a particular part of the game, the designer may choose a dynamic or static camera.



But, does a dynamic camera automatically mean that it should be pointed at the main character? For "8" we are toying with the idea of having camera and main character completely disconnected. The player would choose to move either one or the other (or two players might each take one Very Happy ). This makes sense for the narrative of the game because we do not think of the main character as an avatar for the player but rather as someone whom he or she should help and who helps him or her.

Does anyone know of any existing examples of this concept? The closest I can think of is Ico, where the player can rotate and zoom the camera a bit, independent of the character.
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FireCeremony
Posted: Tue Jul 09, 2002 2:24 am Reply with quote
Joined: 04 Jul 2002 Posts: 7 Location: Norway
>For "8" we are toying with the idea of having camera and main character completely

>disconnected. The player would choose to move either one or the other (or two players

> might each take one ).



That sounds like a very interesting idea, both story and gameplay wise. If the camera is mobile enough, it might prevent the common camera problem and story wise it would add something to game play that's not been explored before.



It will be very interesting to see how you plan to have the player interact with the main character with separate camera like that. (I assume you don't want to reveal that right yet)



I haven't played a game where the camera and the main character was completely separate, I haven't played ICO yet and can't think of any other game that has an approach like that. Silent Hill 1 and 2 have scenes and places where the camera moves to give the player hints of where to proceed and to make cetain points in the story, but 90% of the time the camera does follow the main character.
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Michael
Posted: Wed Jul 10, 2002 9:22 am Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 8065 Location: Gent, Belgium
One of the concepts that we want to explore in our research while making the demo for 8 is the concept of the still image. A still image can be very powerful. Often more powerful than a moving image. I'm not exactly sure why.

So we will probably want to experiment with still camera's in the game as much as we can. Maybe there will just be a few camera's in a room and which one you view through will depend on the character's position. Maybe sometimes there will be a panning (or maybe even zooming). But we want to use those techniques for their narrative meaning, not for functional reasons.

So the default camera will be still but the user will be able to move it to another position (maybe just temporarily).
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JH
Posted: Mon Jan 16, 2006 11:11 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 16 Jan 2006 Posts: 2 Location: Romania
I think the main reason why the camera is behind the character and in the middle because firstly if it wouldn't be in the middle then after a while of playing u tend to think the whole thing falls to the left or to the right.
Also try to think that if u change the camera and the angle u also change the POV(point of view) thus changing it's dramatic line.
If u have the camera behind the char it's more like the char's POV so that's why most of games have the camera placed there.
I haven't played Silent Hill but i played Resident Evil so i guess the camera is kinda the same in those type of games. Some times when u walk in a room the camera changes so this means something else it can be a "subjective"(i think that's the word in english) angle wich means u see what's going on from somebody else's eyes.
So this implies so many more things, it increases the tension because we might or we might not know through who's eyes we are seeing. is it a good guy or a bad one? what is it going to happen to the main character.
Another camera angle that pops into my head now is the dead angle. This type of angle is one of the unusual ones that u see in movies or even in games but i didn't see it in games Razz.
Imagine someone opening the refrigerator and u see the person from the refrigerator, or imagine that u see someone standing right in front of a wall and then u see his face wich is normally impossible because u cannot have someone or place a camera in a wall and also u cannot have someone in the refrigerator and the examples can go on and on.
As u can see the dead angle is very interesting and u need to use every angle very carefully don't change the camera JUST BECAUSE...
U need to have a certain dramatic explanation for everything if u want to head for the ART thingy Wink)

Quote:
For "8" we are toying with the idea of having camera and main character completely disconnected


Just think about what this could mean u see the character through an another person that plays a part in the action? is it an animal that watches closely? is it a surveilance camera? Razz no cameras in the 8 game cuz then u didn't have any surveilance cameras.
I'm just saying that u should think before u do something because u can deteriorate the way the story is told.
Another way to make up for the fact that the monitor is 2d is by LIGHTNING because if u place a light on someone's face from the side u get half of face lit and the other in shadow and this gives it a certain relief to the face thus making it look more 3d.
Think about this ..........light-shadow........... and look at pictures and u'll see what i'm talking about Wink

A still image can be more powerfull than a moving one IF it is well done. at a still u can look forever while moving images pass by and u can't really focus on the art of the image.
A still image can be more powerfull if there is a strong composition and all that implies here(i'm not going to explain because it would take me hours) lines, circles, positioning the elements in the frame, a great lighting that sets the mood, a good angle, and carefully picked colours + many many more things.

Sorry if i made mistakes or if u don't understand something but i wrote it in a kind of rush and while i'm doing other things and what i said here is from the POV of cinematography and television beacuse i'm at an cinematography universtiy in my country but i think most of those things apply to games also.
And i STRONGLY think that in the future games will be made with cinematic influences and this will give games a more artistic flavor....so when that will happen i will be here and ill graduate as a director of photography and get involved in the developing games.
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Michael
Posted: Tue Jan 17, 2006 10:52 am Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 8065 Location: Gent, Belgium
Thank you for this response to this very old thread.

In the mean team, we have fully explored the camera system in 8 and I must say that, on a psychological level, the seperation of camera and character worked really well. It put the player in the position of a guardian who helps the main character and it allowed us to experiment with A.I. in the main character.

But one thing always felt wrong: the first person camera, implied by this disconnection. We just can't make it work properly. It always feels like a train driving through a space. It is never neutral and it easily makes us nauseous (which limits the freedom of experimentation).

With The Endless Forest we have learned that a relatively conventional navigation and camera-system, is ultimately better for the kinds of things that we want to make because it allows for a for more neutral view of the world (you are not the invisible person behind the camera). And it puts the focus on the 3D environment and what happens in it.

I'm starting to think that it may have been a mistake to desire different camera angles for dramatic effect. I don't think that this is a technique that games should adopt, unless it is used in purely cinematic sequences. I think games have to develop their own systems for dramatic storytelling. And framing of the image may not be such a useful technique in real time.
I think our goal should be to put the player in the game world. To make him or her feel like he or she is really there. For that, so far, a neutral camera angle seems to be the best. But perhaps in the future, new output media will eliminate this problem.
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Hoborg
Posted: Tue Jan 17, 2006 8:47 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 05 May 2005 Posts: 73
Michael wrote:
But one thing always felt wrong: the first person camera, implied by this disconnection. We just can't make it work properly. It always feels like a train driving through a space. It is never neutral and it easily makes us nauseous (which limits the freedom of experimentation).


I always thought a first person camera felt awkward like a train driving through space, too. Some games do it better than others, but in any case, it dosen't ever feel like I am seeing through the eyes of a character. Maybe it is that when I walk in real life, I don't look straight ahead to the horizon at all times, so I wouldn't expect a character in a videogame to. If you ever do decide to implement first-person view in a game, though, here's two ideas to make it work at least a little better:

1. Don't allow the player to move while in first-person. A lot of games do this already, I was just playing Zelda 64, and when you press up-c to go into "look" mode, it feels like you have entered the eyesight of link because you can freely look around from his POV in fluid motion. You can't move, though, so it removes the feeling of driving a train, and it prevents the player from abusing that viewpoint too much.

2. Don't allow the player to move the camera. I have never seen a game do this, or at least do it well, but it would be nice to see things from the wandering eyes of the character you are observing/controlling. Leave it up to the AI what the character focuses on and slowly fades into looking elsewhere. See if the character is looking at her feet when she walks or staring at the sky. This would probably be pretty hard to implement well, though.

I don't think first-person is a good view to play an entire game in, but it could make a good supplemental view if done well.
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