Camera Set-up Best Practices

When do I need a Camera and why?

Generally speaking, every implementation should include a camera within the scene. The default perspective, or orthographic view comes with some basic settings. These are sometimes sufficient, however updating the camera(s) to match the product being displayed creates a noticeable visual difference in the final product.

How is the camera matched to the product?

When a camera is created, it comes with a focal length of 35mm. This is considered a 'normal lens' which emulates natural human vision. This means the field of view is not too wide and not too long; providing a general basic view. For a better visual experience, this focal length may be changed to better accommodate the product.

First, ask yourself how the product being depicted would be viewed and showcased in the real-world.

Is this a small object? A large object?

Is it an entire room?

Do I walk around the object or spin it in my hand?

Knowing how an object is commonly interacted with helps create the experience intended by ensuring visual changes from simulated movement mirror that of a real world experience.

Small Object(s)

In this use case, small objects are things like: jewelry, phones, cases, mugs, etc. Essentially, something you can hold in your hand. Generally speaking, the smaller the object, the narrower the lens recommended. A lens width between 50-85mm will give a more accurate view for a small object than the 35mm default.

NOTE: In photography, a wider lens is denoted by a smaller value in mm, such as 24mm or 18mm.

Adjusting the Control Mode for small objects to be Node (Turntable) can help simulate reality in the most accurate way by freezing the camera position and rotating the object itself. This completely changes how the object appears visually by adding dynamic reflections of its lighting environment. This is important with small objects because this is how they are seen in reality, whether someone is holding the object in their hand and rotating it or it's on a turntable.

Large Object(s)

For large objects, having a wide lens is crucial so the field of view captures the entire product. Large objects include: automobiles, furniture, rooms, etc. 35mm or lower is best for this. When depicting large spaces such as rooms, 18mm makes the view wider to help visualize the entire space.

Since, in real life, you walk around the space/object to experience large objects or rooms, the Control Mode should be set to Orbit (Default). This creates a more realistic visual experience by creating a scene where lighting on an object remains stable as the viewer (camera) moves around the space.

Returning to our initial questions:

How is this product displayed in a store or showroom?

This question helps answer how wide the lens should be. This also helps you decide what kind of High Dynamic Range Image (HDRI) you should be using and how your camera settings interact within it.

Do I walk around the object or am I viewing it in my hand? This question helps you answer whether the camera is set to Turntable or Orbit.

Now that you've identified which settings let your camera 'see' the product best, it's time to set up the composition of the view and constraints.

Taking Composition Into Consideration

Setting up the composition of your player requires figuring out where and why to place the object in view. Generally speaking, for product photography, the object will either be in the center (bullseye) or slightly below the horizon line. This keeps the product the focus for the viewer. It is important to place the camera so rotating the view never cuts off the mesh (the object) or shadow plane (it's shadow) at the edges of the player.

Constraints and Zoom

Constraints and Zoom distance give the 3D artist the ability to guide the view and ensure the user can't zoom in too close or too far. This is essential because it can ruin the experience of the entire configuration if the user can't see the product properly or can move through the mesh/floor.

Constraints work on a Longitude and Latitude scale with values ranging from -360 to 360. When you see a product in real life you are limited by physics and adjusting camera constraints to enforce that experience digitally helps the configurator feel like a more realistic experience. In many use cases, constraints are used so the camera cannot go under the floor, through a wall, etc. This is done by providing a narrowed range in which the camera can travel.

The Zoom Distance option on the Camera settings can be adjusted so the user can "walk to” and “walk away" from the product within a set distance. This should always be set so the user can't end up inside the object or so far away the object becomes lost. These are physical restraints which help emulate a realistic showcase and provide a positive user experience.

NOTE: The minimum/maximum distance offset is calculated in meters and is relative to the original position of the camera.

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