A Cinema 4D Primer for Maya Artists: Creating and Navigating with Cameras

Photo of Edna Kruger

Instructor Edna Kruger

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Frame objects in the viewports, and create a camera that we can animate and use for rendering our scene.

This video shows how to orbit, pan, dolly, and frame objects with cameras in the viewports, how to create a camera for animation and rendering, and how to use a Protection tag to prevent moving the camera around when viewing the scene through it.



In this video, we'll take a look around the viewports using cameras, and we'll create a camera that we can use for animating and rendering. As in Maya, the view panel is where you can view the objects in your scene. Also as in Maya, there are four viewports, providing an opportunity to have different cameras and projections in each one. The active viewport is the one in which you last clicked, and has a white outline around it. Each viewport has its own instance of the default camera, which can see the scene from different projections, the Perspective and the three orthographic views which you'll recognize, top, front, and right. The default camera, also called the "editing" camera, is not an object that you can select in the Object Manager or in a viewport, as you can with the separate default cameras in Maya. However, you can use the default camera here in the say way as you use the default cameras in Maya. It's just for navigating around your scene as you're working. You can change the projection for working from the Cameras menu from Perspective to Parallel, and any of the orthographic views. This menu also offers some unusual projections that you don't find in Maya like Frog and Gentleman. Feel free to explore these as you like. To navigate with the camera, we'll start with what is the most familiar to you in Maya, using the Alt key. Press Alt+left-click and drag to tumble the camera, or "orbit" as it's called in C4D. Press Alt+middle-click and drag to track or pan with the camera. Press Alt+right-click and drag to dolly the camera. If the navigation in your viewport is getting off track, you can always return to the camera's default view at any time with View, Frame Default. You may have noticed that the camera uses the cursor's position as its point of interest by default. This is displayed as this little cross here. If you want to change how this works, select an option from the camera's Navigation menu, which is the same as in the preferences. On the Navigation tab, you can select an option there. For example, we'll change this to Object, make Hair the selected object, and then we can orbit around that. But we'll just go back to the cursor option. You can also change the direction of the orbit when you drag with the Reverse Orbit option. You can also change the speed of each type of navigation here. The icons in the viewport lets you manipulate the camera in the same ways. Hold the mouse button down on each icon as you drag to pan, dolly, and orbit the camera. When you use these icons, the camera always uses the center of the viewport as its point of interest. If you ever want to undo a navigation change, you can choose View, Undo View Change, or press Ctrl+Shift+Z. To redo that change, choose Redo View Change, or press Ctrl+Shift+Y. But we'll go back to seeing our little guy close up. One more way to navigate with the camera is to use sticky keys. This means that a tool is active only when you're holding down the key, as we're pressing the 1 key to pan. When you release the key, C4D returns to the previously active tool. You can hold down the 2 key to dolly, and the 3 key to orbit. You'll notice that these keys use the cursor as the point of interest for navigation. As you're working, you often need to frame different things in a viewport, and C4D has some commands in the View menu to do this. Frame Selected Elements is kind of the default framing command, since it frames selected objects, like the head here, and also selected components, as we'll do with the points on the head. This is great while you're working with components when you're modeling. You can press the S key as the shortcut for this command. Frame the Selected Object works only for selected objects, but that includes geometry, lights, and cameras. We'll just select his head again, because it's right here and we're lazy. You can press the O key for this command. Frame Geometry frames all geometrical objects, which does not include lights and cameras. This is a common way to frame the whole scene. You can press the H key to use this command. Frame All frames everything in the scene, including lights and cameras. This is essentially the same as Frame Geometry, unless you've got lights and cameras that are pretty far out, as we have this spotlight up in the left. If you press the Alt key with any of the S, O, or H keys, as we'll do with the H key here, you can frame things in all viewports. Let's select our little guy and press Alt+S to get closer to him. As in Maya, you need to create one or more real cameras, also called "Camera objects", to animate and to use for rendering your scene. You can do this from either the Create Camera menu or from the camera icon on the pallet here. Camera is a basic camera, and Target Camera is the same, but with a point of interest at which the camera always points. When you create a camera, it uses the attributes of the camera in the active viewport. So make sure to set this up before you create the camera. We'll click in the Perspective viewport, and then create the camera. You can see the camera as an object now in the other viewports. Of course, you can change any camera attributes in the Attribute Manager, including its projection. You can change focal length, film gate, field of view, and other typical camera-y things. On the Details tab, you can enable and set the near and far clipping planes and toggle the display of the camera angle cone. However, things like gates, safe title, and safe action areas are viewport attributes. Choose Options Configure or press Shift+V, then click the View tab in the Attribute Manager. Activate safe frames, and then toggle the different options. You can set the border color to something more exciting than black, if you're so inclined. Now that you've created a camera, you probably want to view your scene through it. To do this, just click this icon beside the camera node in the Object Manager, which activates it, or select it from the camera's Use Camera menu. Remember that when you navigate with the active camera, the actual camera will move and rotate, which is maybe what you want. But you may find it easier to place the camera using another viewport. If you absolutely don't want to accidentally move the camera around while you're working, you can create a Protection Tag for it from the Tags menu in the Object Manager. Then, lock the position and/or rotation. Now, you can see that the camera is not going anywhere. To unlock the camera, just select None for whichever channel you want to use again. One final thing to mention is that you can view the scene from the point of view of any selected object, such as this spotlight. Just choose Set Active Object as Camera from the Cameras menu. Now, we can see what our spotlight is illuminating, which helps when placing it. So now, you know how to move around your scene with a camera and how to create cameras. Here's a cheat sheet of all the keyboard shortcuts we used in this video. In the next video, we'll move on to the joys of selecting objects and components. Bye for now.
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