Before integrating the Bullet Physics, the camera worked fine. But instead of using my own simple struct for transform data, I use rigid body structs provided by the physics library now.

There are two issue with the first person camera at the moment. First, it is stuck in the ground and when I try to move it, it slips back to it's position. Second, When I get the camera out of the ground, which sometimes happens, The applied rotation isn't in the way I move the mouse. When I move the mouse straight, the camera is moved in circles.

This is how the rigid body it set up.

float mass = 1.0f;
btCollisionShape* shape = new btBoxShape(btVector3(0.5f, 0.5f, 0.5f));
btDefaultMotionState* state = new btDefaultMotionState(btTransform(btQuaternion(0, 0, 0, mass), btVector3(0, 0, 0)));
btVector3 inertia;
shape->calculateLocalInertia(mass, inertia);
Body = new btRigidBody(mass, state, shape, inertia);

This is how I get and set rotations and positions of rigid bodies.

vec3 Position()
    btVector3 pos = Body->getWorldTransform().getOrigin();
    return vec3(pos.getX(), pos.getY(), pos.getZ());
void Position(vec3 Position)
    btTransform transform = Body->getCenterOfMassTransform();
    transform.setOrigin(btVector3(Position.x, Position.y, Position.z));
vec3 Rotation()
    vec3 rot;
    Body->getWorldTransform().getBasis().getEulerZYX(rot.z, rot.y, rot.x);
    return rot;
void Rotation(vec3 Rotation)
    btTransform transform = Shape->getCenterOfMassTransform();
    transform.setRotation(btQuaternion(Rotation.y, Rotation.x, Rotation.z));

And this is how I calculate the view matrix of the camera.

const float pi = glm::pi<float>();
if      (Rotation().x < -pi) Rotation(vec3(Rotation().x + pi*2, Rotation().y, Rotation().z));
else if (Rotation().x >  pi) Rotation(vec3(Rotation().x - pi*2, Rotation().y, Rotation().z));

const float margin = 0.2f;
if      (Rotation().y < -pi/2+margin) Rotation(vec3(Rotation().x, -pi/2+margin, Rotation().z));
else if (Rotation().y >  pi/2-margin) Rotation(vec3(Rotation().x,  pi/2-margin, Rotation().z));

vec3 lookat(
    sinf(Rotation().x) * cosf(Rotation().y),
    cosf(Rotation().x) * cosf(Rotation().y)

cam->View = lookAt(Position(), Position() + lookat, vec3(0, 1, 0));

How can I move and rotate a rigid body to use it as camera?


2 Answers 2


The solution was to create a character or actor class representing a rigid body in the physics simulation. An instance of that class can be attached to the camera. Both actor and camera have distinctive transforms thus position and rotation.

The camera then updates its position and yaw from the attached actor's rigid body. Pitch and roll aren't synchronized. The position can be shifted say 1.8 meters up so that the viewpoint is located where in reality eyes are located.

Moreover the rigid body contained in an actor is restricted to not change pitch and roll, so that the collision shape cannot fall on its side.

That way the camera can freely rotate in pitch and yaw, the actor turns around with the camera but doesn't rotate upwards and downwards. So the collision shape, which might be a cylinder or an ellipsoid, always stays upright. To move the camera, we can simply apply forces to the attached actor instance.


I don't really understand your matrix creation code so I can't comment on the rotation but if you give the camera a mass of 1 bullet physics will apply gravity to it, which would cause that dropping into the ground effect whenever you stop moving the camera yourself. Try setting it to 0 instead.

Also I don't think messing with the Center of Mass transform should really be done outside of initialisation.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Giving it a mass of 0 would make it not collide with static meshes in Bullet Physics. What I meant about the rotation is that I don't want to camera to fall over for example. With a collision shape, the camera can topple and the rotation of the view isn't as expected for a first person camera anymore. \$\endgroup\$
    – danijar
    Apr 15, 2013 at 20:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm pretty sure it will still collide but you will need to process the collision results yourself. bulletphysics.org/mediawiki-1.5.8/… \$\endgroup\$ Apr 16, 2013 at 11:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ I want the camera to stay on the ground, so it needs a mass. But I don't want it to fall over so that it lays on a side and the view is twisted. \$\endgroup\$
    – danijar
    Apr 24, 2013 at 10:56
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Oh right I think I get what you mean now. You want it to act like a rigid body but keep a fixed orientation? In that case grab the motionstate of the camera's rididbody, grab the transform of the motion state, replace the rotation matrix (the top-most, left-most 3x3 values) with your own values, then set the motionstates transform to that. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 24, 2013 at 11:11

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