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I am an MPhil student in Computing Science working on the problem of camera control in graphics. Though the literature of camera control dates back to the end of 1980s, the majority of them (up to my knowledge) is mainly academic and rarely used in games.

Now part of my thesis should be dedicated to camera control methods used in games. But the problem is that I have not implemented all the games in the world, so I can't speak about them. But I suppose there are some references that game developers usually use.

Can anybody help me with this? Even if it is from your own experience rather than a book.

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I'm going to go ahead and suggest Real-time Cameras. It appears to cover the topics you require.

Honestly, though, you should go code some 3D cameras and figure out what works and doesn't :) That's the fun part, anyway.

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I wish I have time to code :-) Unfortunately, I am very busy with my thesis at the moment. Thanks anyway. – Promather Mar 30 '11 at 16:22
To me, Real-time Cameras by Mark Haigh-Hutchinson is the best litterature you'll find on the subject. I would call it a must-read for any camera system designer or programmer. – Antoine Henry Mar 30 '11 at 17:49
Real-time Cameras is the bible on video game camera systems. The 3rd person cameras in the Metroid Prime games are still some of the best you'll find in the industry. – Lathentar Mar 31 '11 at 19:39

While a 2D camera is quite simple to implement, a camera in 3D can become really complicated quite fast.

First person perspective or a fixed camera like in a RTS are probably the easiest ones, while a good third-person camera can be a huge challenge. I recently saw a presentation of a game-camera research project which looked really good: Visibility Transition Planning for Real-Time Camera Control (you'll find a link to a PDF at the bottom of the page or check out this video to see it in action).

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Thanks. Same here actually, any documents will be highly appreciated as I need to cite references in the thesis. – Promather Mar 30 '11 at 11:43
As I wrote in my answer you'll find a link to the paper at the bottom of the (linked) page [PDF]. While the paper is probably a good reference by itself, it also contains several references which might be interesting for you too. – bummzack Mar 30 '11 at 11:47
BTW: The reason why I didn't provide a direct link to the PDF is because you'll have to read/agree to a disclaimer before downloading it. – bummzack Mar 30 '11 at 11:53
+1 that camera control looks absolutely incredible! – Ray Dey Mar 30 '11 at 16:04

NB: I'm assuming here you're talking about cameras in third-person games such as Tomb Raider. Even then, some games may have sections, for instance when in cover, when a completely separate camera system is used to the main walking-around sections of the game.

This is a very complex area to get right. The simple naive approach is to lock the camera to a position above and behind the player, and if raycasts intersect level terrain then to move the camera back towards the player until clear of intersections.

This quickly gets complicated as you add in smoothing, lookahead prediction, more ray casts to steer clear of trouble, gimbal lock, etc. And despite all that you'll still find the camera staring at the walls every now and again.

It might be easier to get a list of games where the camera works well, and try to figure out what they're doing special.

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Thanks. But is there any document about these? You know, I cannot write in my thesis that I learnt this from SE :-) – Promather Mar 30 '11 at 11:41
You can look at this: – zacharmarz Mar 30 '11 at 15:22

If you're looking for something "sourceable", try looking through the GDC Vault archives. You have access to slides from talks. Doing a search for "camera" lead to some results that might be useful.

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This seems to be a very nice website. Thanks! – Promather Mar 31 '11 at 8:27
There was a recent talk this year from the camera programmer for God of War 3 with detailed slides on how they did their system. Be sure to check it out. GOW3: Iterating on a Dynamic Camera – Lathentar Mar 31 '11 at 19:53

There is a great section about all types of game camera's documented in Scott Roger's Level Up book. This really helped me to understand them:

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