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I've come across a need to position a camera for an arbitrary (unknown) scene. The camera can be updated later, but I thought I'd give it a reasonable default, and the thought crossed my mind that there may be a decent "standard" for this.

At the very least, a given modeling program (Maya, 3dsMax, blender...) ships with a default position / orientation for a camera.

A default light would be useful too; is there a similar standard for this?

In the lack of any good suggestions here, I thought I'd try to orient the camera so that an object of approximate diameter of 2 (such as a unit circle) would fit well in the scene and provide a directional light in the direction of the camera.

Edit: while we're at it, what about:

  • camera FOV / frustum
  • light color / intensity / etc
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Sorta dependes on what you are doing, perhaps the question should be split up more: best default for topdown or sideview, fps, 3ps, isometric, ortho 2D? There's so many options, and probably all the 3d modelers work on semi arbitrary scales as well. But I won't say this is an answer, cos probably there are good solid industry standards for some of these, depending much on the engine in question of course. – karmington Jan 6 '12 at 6:06
Some tools let you export cameras and lights directly from your original modelling application (I think even the .x format supports this) - this would be a reasonable default because artists don't think like you do; and they can make something more aesthetically pleasing than any mathematical model. – Jonathan Dickinson Jan 6 '12 at 9:23
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Generally speaking, most people plug in a 45 degree angle in for the FOV. If you do this, a camera is then usually positioned just far enough away to include everything in the scene. No default on this distance because scale is so arbitrary in a 3d virtual world.

There is a concept of a default lighting rig where you have 3 directional lights. One lighting the front, a dimmer one lighting the back, and a side one to enhance the scene. This is basically borrowed from the movie industry. Here is a link: In Xna, this lighting rig ships with the framework as a default in the BasicEffect:

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It's explained in the link but not in this answer: that kind of lighting setup is called 3-point lighting. Filmmakers came up with the concepts of key, fill, and back lights. – jhocking Jan 6 '12 at 12:56

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