Penny Patton’s Guide to Better Camera Placement

Penny Patton, long time advocate of better scaling and camera positions, has posted in the blogrum a guide to improving your Second Life view, via better camera placement. Penny has also granted me permission to reprint the post here, which I will do shortly.

Why is camera placement important you may wonder, well it simply is, it’s one of the most important features of any video game because it gives us perspective, and the problem with the default settings for the camera in Second Life, according to Penny, is that the camera view not only isn’t very good, it has distorted perceptions so that pretty much everything we build, from our avatar to our homes and stores, is oversized. The problem with everything being oversized is that we use more space than we need to on our sims, meaning we have less room for landscaping and features.

This is quite a compelling argument and after altering my camera as Penny suggests, I can see where she’s coming from. However not everyone will agree with this or feel the advantages, that’s down to personal choice of course but knowing about features like this can improve your view of Second Life.The first thing we need to do before we get into Penny’s tutorial, is to locate the advanced menu, on Windows and Linux you can press the CTRL, ALT and D keys at the same time, on a Mac, you can press CTRL, OPT and D, or in Viewer 2.4 you can set the advanced menu via your preferences:

Viewer 2.4 getting to preferences

Viewer 2.4 Preferences Window

Once that’s set, you will have an advanced option at the top of your screen next to your other menu headers. Now I’ll pass you on to Penny’s tutorial, with a couple of pictures from myself, but a word of warning, do not mess with settings in the Advanced menu that you are not familiar with, there are a lot of options that if you lose track of what you’re doing, you’ll mess things up!

Penny Patton’s guide to better camera placement

Camera placement is important. In the videogame industry this is common wisdom. Game developers spent decades experimenting, improving and pretty much perfecting the art of camera placement in 3D videogames.

Unfortunately, the SL camera does not take advantage of any of that experience. As a result, the camera sits way over your avatar’s head, angled down. Not very immersive or engaging. More like you’re watching a character from afar rather than interacting with the world through them.

This has also affected how we build. It’s common knowledge that avatars are generally oversized, often close to 7 or 8′ tall, some pushing almost 9′. And yet, the environments we build and explore are larger still, often fully double scale compared to real life. 5m high ceilings instead of the more typical 2.59, 20x20m rooms instead of 10x10m or 5x5m rooms. We need to build so much larger to compensate for SL’s camera.

Some will point out that you need to compensate for any third person view. This is correct, however with a proper 3rd person view you’d only really be affected by a room as small as about 2x3m, like a bathroom or walk in closet. You’d easily be able to navigate a 5x5m apartment with a typical 2.59m high ceiling.

The irony of all this up-scaling is that it makes SL smaller. We can’t re-size our land to match, afterall, so we either need to buy more or settle for a “smaller” build.

These up-scaled builds also eat more of our alotted prims. A 20x20m room might take 16 prims where the same room done to 10x10m scale takes up only 1/4th the land area and can be done in a mere 6 prims (or even 3 prims if you build as efficiently as possible) because you don’t bump heads with that 10x10x10m prim size limit.

So here you are. Alternate camera settings you can easily enter into the viewer’s debug panel to get a better look at Second Life.

Debug Settings

——(Right Shoulder Offset / Videogame Style)—————————————————-

CameraOffsetDefault (In Viewer 1 based viewers, including TPVs like Ascent/Phoenix/Imprudence)

CameraOffsetRearView (In Viewer 2 including TPVs such as Kirstens, Starlight and Catznip)
X: -2.000
Y: -0.400   (Or make positive for a left shoulder view.)
Z: -0.200

camera offset rearview option

camera offsetrearview settings

FocusOffsetDefault (In Viewer 1 based viewers, including TPVs like Ascent/Phoenix/Imprudence)

FocusOffsetRearView (In Viewer 2 including TPVs such as Kirstens, Starlight and Catznip)
X: 0.900
Y: -07000 (Or make positive for a left shoulder view.)
Z: 0.200

focus offset rearview

focus offset rearview settings

CameraOffsetScale (Same in 1.x and 2.x viewers)
1.500

cameraoffsetscale

cameraoffsetscale settings

Alternately, some people do not care for the right shoulder offset that’s popular in videogames. Here’s an alternate version with a centered camera view.

——(Centred View)—————————————————-

CameraOffsetDefault (In Viewer 1 based viewers, including TPVs like Ascent/Phoenix/Imprudence)

CameraOffsetRearView (In Viewer 2 including TPVs such as Kirstens, Starlight and Catznip)
X: -2.000
Y: 0.000
Z: -0.200

FocusOffsetDefault (In Viewer 1 based viewers, including TPVs like Ascent/Phoenix/Imprudence)

FocusOffsetRearView (In Viewer 2 including TPVs such as Kirstens, Starlight and Catznip)
X: 0.900
Y: 0.000
Z: 0.200

CameraOffsetScale (Same in 1.x and 2.x viewers)
1.500

End of Tutorial

Now you’ve got me back, now you may be thinking this all looks a bit crazily complicated and you don’t want to go messing with these settings, well not only does Penny write guides, she also gives away free of charge a HUD that will change your camera views without changing the debug settings, this can be found on the SL Marketplace, which you can find here.

There’s also a Jira about this issues, which you can read here.

4 Replies to “Penny Patton’s Guide to Better Camera Placement”

  1. I tweaked them for Tinies, too, if anybody is interested. Just IM me if you want the settings. I used a scripted camera override before, but this is way better.

  2. I’ve used these camera and focus offsets to great effect. Now I’ve tweaked them somewhat to suit my personal demands and needs. Kudos to Penny for coming up with them and to you (and Inara Pey and others) for helping make them more widely known to the SL public at large.

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