Machinima Artists Guild

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Smooth Camera Movements for Machinima in Second Life

In a video I posted earlier this week I indicated that I was using a new strategy for having smooth camera movements in my videos.  I claimed I wasn't using a joystick or space navigator.  In reality, I am using the keyboard.


This technology doesn't replace either the joystick or space navigator, and it forces you to shoot videos more like the movies, where there is a scene and a specific camera shot, then a new scene and new camera shot.  In that mode, you can do complex 4-axis sweeps, pans, zooms, pitches, etc., as one camera action.  But it comes at a cost.  That cost is the need to figure out the SL Joystick parameters so that your rotations and other movements match the scene you want to image, and if it's complicated it can take a while to figure it out.  In my recent UWA video, I have a sweeping pan of a artwork called "Fallen Angle" that is on screen 15 seconds, but took 45 minutes to prepare.


The technology is a Virtual Joystick.  It allows you to map your keyboard to a device driver that emulates a joystick.  This is why you can really only shoot one specific kind of shot at a time, because there is no variability in the movement.  It's either on or off.  With the SL Joystick settings, you might set the pitch to 0.20 for one scene then 0.05 the next, causing the second camera action to pitch up/down at one quarter the speed of the first camera action.


That being said, it's a pain, because you have to constantly modify the settings for every scene.  It comes at the benefit of having ultra smooth and even very sophisticated camera movements.  So it's your choice, but I think a combination of this idea, a space navigator and/or joystick, are just tools in the machinima maker's toolkit.  You use the appropriate tool for the shots as you need them, rather than having it replace the skill you have already acquired with other tools.


The technology I use is VJoy, and you can get it here (link)


If you do try this out, please post your experiences with this technology so that others can either say "awww", or run away in fear.


Have Fun, - Gin

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Comment by Hypatia Pickens on January 20, 2011 at 3:04pm
Thanks, Ginger!  My best computer is Win7, but I still have an old XP (that has been compromised by heavy use of Second Life).  Even so, I agree with Asil: the space navigator seemed like such a godsend when I bought it (was using the alt-drag), but it "shakes" a bit when I turn.  My left hand, too, is a little unsteady, and I need the right one to operate the avatar in flycam mode.
Comment by Asil on January 15, 2011 at 11:03pm

VJoy Virtual Joystick v1.0


VJoy Virtual Joystick is a software application and virtual driver system that allows keyboard input to be translated to joystick input.


  • Signed drivers (thanks to Ultimarc)
  • 64-bit support
  • Key blocking (unfortunately doesn't work in Vista and Windows 7 due to changes in these OS's)

System Requirements

VJoy Virtual Joystick supports the following Operating Systems.

  • Windows 2000
  • Windows XP (x86 / x64)
  • Windows Server 2008 (x86 / x64)
  • Windows Vista (x86 / x64)
  • Windows 7 (x86 / x64)

Asil Note: Sadly,keyblocking doesn't work on Win7, so not sure I'm going to try it.  However, I am very tempted as I find that space navigator, while very useful, doesn't always give me smoothest renderings.

Comment by Ian Pahute on January 12, 2011 at 12:11am
What an interesting concept! Thank you for sharing Ginger.
Comment by cisko vandeverre on January 9, 2011 at 5:27am
thx for sharing - looks deff worse a try.


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