Section: New Results

The Toric Space: a novel representation for camera control applications

Participants : Marc Christie, Christophe Lino, Quentin Galvane.

Many types of computer graphics applications such as data visualization or virtual movie production require users to position and move viewpoints in 3D scenes to effectively convey visual information or tell stories. The desired viewpoints and camera paths need to satisfy a number of visual properties (e.g. size, vantage angle, visibility, and on-screen position of targets). Yet, existing camera manipulation tools only provide limited interaction methods and automated techniques remain computationally expensive.

We introduce the Toric space, a novel and compact representation for intuitive and efficient virtual camera control. We first show how visual properties are expressed in this Toric space and propose an efficient interval-based search technique for automated viewpoint computation. We then derive a novel screen-space manipulation technique that provides intuitive and real-time control of visual properties. Finally, we propose an effective viewpoint interpolation technique which ensures the continuity of visual properties along the generated paths. The proposed approach (i) performs better than existing automated viewpoint computation techniques in terms of speed and precision, (ii) provides a screen-space manipulation tool that is more efficient than classical manipulators and easier to use for beginners, and (iii) enables the creation of complex camera motions such as long takes in a very short time and in a controllable way. As a result, the approach should quickly find its place in a number of applications that require interactive or automated camera control such as 3D modelers, navigation tools or games. The paper has been presented at SIGGRAPH 2015 (see [12] for more details).

We then rely on this Toric Space representation to contruct optimal camera paths (optimal in the satisfaction of visual properties along the path). Indeed, when creating real or computer graphics movies, the questions of how to layout elements on the screen, together with how to move the cameras in the scene are crucial to properly conveying the events composing a narrative. Though there is a range of techniques to automatically compute camera paths in virtual environments, none have seriously considered the problem of generating realistic camera motions even for simple scenes. Among possible cinematographic devices, real cinematographers often rely on camera rails to create smooth camera motions which viewers are familiar with. Following this practice, we have proposed a method for generating virtual camera rails and computing smooth camera motions on these rails. Our technique analyzes characters motion and user-defined framing properties to compute rough camera motions which are further refined using constrained-optimization techniques. Comparisons with recent techniques demonstrate the benefits of our approach and opens interesting perspectives in terms of creative support tools for animators and cinematographers. See [25] for more details.

TO address the more general problem of solving contradicting visual properties, novel ways of aggregating functions has also been proposed [33] .