Let's say i have the following:

  • Point somewhere in space
  • Camera with position and orientation (up, right, forward)

I want to rotate camera around the point, but also keep this point in same place on screen. So, if point was on (32, 32) on window, after rotation i want it to still be on (32, 32).

I've seen How can I orbit a camera about it's target point? , and it was somewhat helpful. I needed code to rotate point around arbitrary axis (camera's up and right), so i used this resource.

Problem is, i got something like numerical errors and my camera started to wander weirdly when rotating around camera's both up and right (it seems fine when i rotate only around one of them).

I tested my implementation with code:

Matrix m1=MatrixRotate(Vector(-1, -1, 1),  33);
Matrix m2=MatrixRotate(Vector(-1, -1, 1), -33);
Vector a=Vector(-1, -1, -1);
Vector c=a;

printf("%f %f %f %f\n", c.x, c.y, c.z, c.w);

And got:

-1.028036 -0.960396 -1.124331 0.000000

It worked fine when rotation axis was something 'normal' like (1, 0, 0) or (0, 0, -1).

So, how else can i rotate camera around point, while keeping said point in same point on screen?


1 Answer 1


Looks like you got some very big rounding errors in there. I have no idea why but I have written some code for matrix rotations once. It's in Java though but should be very easy to translate to C++.

Vector class:

public class Vec {
    public final static Vec X_AXIS=new Vec(1,0,0);
    public final static Vec Y_AXIS=new Vec(0,1,0);
    public final static Vec Z_AXIS=new Vec(0,0,1);
    public final static Vec ORIGIN=new Vec(0,0,0);

    public final double x,y,z;

    public Vec(double x, double y, double z) {

    public double dotProduct(Vec v) {
        return x*v.x+y*v.y+z*v.z;

    public Vec crossProduct(Vec v) {
        double rx=y*v.z-z*v.y;
        double ry=z*v.x-x*v.z;
        double rz=x*v.y-y*v.x;
        return new Vec(rx, ry, rz);

    public Vec newLength(double newLength) {
        double length=getLength();
        if(length==newLength) return this;
        if(length==0) return X_AXIS.newLength(newLength);
        return new Vec(x*newLength/length, y*newLength/length, z*newLength/length);

    public Vec rotationAxis() {
        return rotationAxis(X_AXIS);

    //The rotation axis to rotate v onto this
    public Vec rotationAxis(Vec v) {
        return normalizedCrossProduct(v);

    public Vec normalizedCrossProduct(Vec v) {
        Vec r=crossProduct(v);
        if(r.getLength()<0.0001) {
        if(r.getLength()<0.0001) {
        if(r.getLength()<0.0001) {
            return X_AXIS;
        return r.normalize();

    public double angle() {
        return angleTo(X_AXIS);

    public double angleTo(Vec v) {
        double cosTheta=dotProduct(v)/(getLength()*v.getLength());

        return Math.acos(cosTheta);

    public double getLength() {
        return Math.sqrt(x*x+y*y+z*z);

    public Vec rotate(Matrix m) {
        return m.mul(this);

    public Vec normalize() {
        double length=getLength();

        if(length==1) return this;
        if(length==0) return X_AXIS;
        return new Vec(x/length, y/length, z/length);

    public Vec addX(double a) {
        return new Vec(x+a, y, z);

    public Vec addY(double a) {
        return new Vec(x, y+a, z);

    public Vec addZ(double a) {
        return new Vec(x, y, z+a);

    public Vec add(Vec v) {
        return new Vec(x+v.x, y+v.y, z+v.z);

    public Vec sub(Vec v) {
        return new Vec(x-v.x, y-v.y, z-v.z);

    public Vec mul(double m) {
        return new Vec(x*m, y*m, z*m);

    public Vec div(double d) {
        return new Vec(x/d, y/d, z/d);

    public Vec neg() {
        return new Vec(-x, -y, -z);

    public boolean equals(Object o) {
        if(!(o instanceof Vec)) return false;
        Vec v=(Vec)o;
        return v==this || sub(v).getLength() < 0.0001;

    public String toString() {
        return String.format(java.util.Locale.ENGLISH,
            "(%.3f, %.3f, %.3f)", x, y, z);


Matrix class:

public class Matrix {
    public final static Matrix IDENTITY=new Matrix(Vec.X_AXIS, Vec.Y_AXIS, Vec.Z_AXIS);
    public final Vec xAxis, yAxis, zAxis;

    public Matrix(double ... e) {
        if(e.length!=9) throw new RuntimeException();
        xAxis = new Vec(e[0], e[3], e[6]);
        yAxis = new Vec(e[1], e[4], e[7]);
        zAxis = new Vec(e[2], e[5], e[8]);

    public Matrix(Vec xAxis, Vec yAxis, Vec zAxis) {
        this.xAxis = xAxis;
        this.yAxis = yAxis;
        this.zAxis = zAxis;

    public Matrix(Vec axis, double theta) {
        Vec u=axis.normalize();
        double sin=Math.sin(theta);
        double cos=Math.cos(theta);
        double uxy=u.x*u.y*(1-cos);
        double uyz=u.y*u.z*(1-cos);
        double uxz=u.x*u.z*(1-cos);
        double ux2=u.x*u.x*(1-cos);
        double uy2=u.y*u.y*(1-cos);
        double uz2=u.z*u.z*(1-cos);
        double uxsin=u.x*sin;
        double uysin=u.y*sin;
        double uzsin=u.z*sin;

        xAxis = new Vec(cos+ux2, uxy+uzsin, uxz-uysin);
        yAxis = new Vec(uxy-uzsin, cos+uy2, uyz+uxsin);
        zAxis = new Vec(uxz+uysin, uyz-uxsin, cos+uz2);

    static public Matrix xRotationMatrix(double theta) {
        double cos = Math.cos(theta), sin = Math.sin(theta);
        return new Matrix(Vec.X_AXIS,
                          new Vec(0, cos, sin),
                          new Vec(0, -sin, cos));

    static public Matrix yRotationMatrix(double theta) {
        double cos = Math.cos(theta), sin = Math.sin(theta);
        return new Matrix(new Vec(cos, 0, -sin),
                          new Vec(sin, 0, cos));

    static public Matrix zRotationMatrix(double theta) {
        double cos = Math.cos(theta), sin = Math.sin(theta);
        return new Matrix(new Vec(cos, sin, 0),
                          new Vec(-sin, cos, 0),

    public Matrix rotX(double theta) {
        return xRotationMatrix(theta).mul(this);

    public Matrix rotY(double theta) {
        return yRotationMatrix(theta).mul(this);

    public Matrix rotZ(double theta) {
        return zRotationMatrix(theta).mul(this);

    public Matrix mul(double d) {
        return new Matrix(xAxis.mul(d), yAxis.mul(d), zAxis.mul(d));

    public Vec mul(Vec v) {
        return xAxis.mul(v.x).add(yAxis.mul(v.y)).add(zAxis.mul(v.z));

    public Matrix mul(Matrix m) {
        return new Matrix(mul(m.xAxis), mul(m.yAxis), mul(m.zAxis));

    public Matrix rotateRel(Matrix m) {
        return mul(m);

    public Matrix rotateAbs(Matrix m) {
        return m.mul(this);

    public Matrix normalize() {
        Vec vz=xAxis.crossProduct(yAxis);
        Vec vy=vz.crossProduct(xAxis);        
        return new Matrix(xAxis.normalize(),

    public Matrix transpose() {
        return new Matrix(xAxis.x, xAxis.y, xAxis.z,
                          yAxis.x, yAxis.y, yAxis.z,
                          zAxis.x, zAxis.y, zAxis.z);

    public double determinant() {
        return xAxis.x*(yAxis.y*zAxis.z-zAxis.y*yAxis.z) -
               yAxis.x*(zAxis.z*xAxis.y-zAxis.y*xAxis.z) +

    public Matrix inverse() {
        Vec A = yAxis.crossProduct(zAxis);
        Vec B = zAxis.crossProduct(xAxis);
        Vec C = xAxis.crossProduct(yAxis);
        return new Matrix(A,B,C).transpose().mul(1/determinant());

    public Matrix oppositeRotMatrix() {
        return transpose();

    public boolean equals(Object o) {
        if(!(o instanceof Matrix)) return false;
        Matrix m=(Matrix)o;
        return m==this || xAxis.equals(m.xAxis) && yAxis.equals(m.yAxis) && zAxis.equals(m.zAxis);

    public String toString() {
        return String.format(java.util.Locale.ENGLISH,
            "[%.3f, %.3f, %.3f]\n[%.3f, %.3f, %.3f]\n[%.3f, %.3f, %.3f]",
            xAxis.x, yAxis.x, zAxis.x,
            xAxis.y, yAxis.y, zAxis.y,
            xAxis.z, yAxis.z, zAxis.z);

When I test it with this code

Matrix m1 = new Matrix(new Vec(-1, -1, 1), Math.toRadians(33));
Matrix m2 = new Matrix(new Vec(-1, -1, 1), Math.toRadians(-33));
Vec a = new Vec(-1, -1, -1);
Vec c = a;

c = m1.mul(c);
c = m2.mul(c);

I get (-1.000, -1.000, -1.000), so no significant rounding errors.

btw. I took my equations for axis/angle rotations from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotation_matrix

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ May His Noodly Appendage touch you, my friend. Your code helped me get rid of numerical errors, but camera kept wandering when rotating. Solution: i changed order of rotations. Before, i rotated first by Up then by Right, now it is Right then Up. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$
    – crueltear
    Apr 28, 2014 at 11:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ You can multiply two matrices. For example matrix m1 rotates up and matrix m2 rotates right. Then you can do m1*m2 to get a matrix that rotates up and right. However with matrix multiplications the order matters. e.g. m1 * m2 would mean first rotate right (m2) and then rotate up (m1), where both rotations are in the absolute coordinate system. But m1*m2 could also mean, first rotate up and then rotate right in the relative coordinate system of the camera. Both points of view are mathematically equivalent. \$\endgroup\$
    – SpiderPig
    Apr 28, 2014 at 23:00

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