Writing a Camera Previs Extension

Hi everyone.

I’m a Production Designer based in London. I build films sets, mostly for TV commercials and my primary indispensable tool is sketchup for working out shots, creating construction plans and high end concept visuals rendered in indigo.

The one area where sketchup falls short is controllable and accurate camera info. The advanced camera tools plugin is ok, but lacks the ability to alter the camera information (so for example to choose whatever the latest iteration Red or Arri camera, adjust aspect ratio, choose sensor size and whether its shooting at 2k / 4k / 6k etc). without these parameters i can’t say for sure that what i have rendered on a 50mm lens (for example) is correct.

i’d also like to be able to create camera moves with control over speed of moves, following along a path and easily useable data like camera heights etc.

i feel like an extension that had all of these features would be extremely useful to anyone working in film / tv, but it’s just not something i can do myself. anyone want to get involved in building this magical elusive extension?



If it’s just editing camera info or properties of the cameras created with Advanced Camera Tools, have you tried an attribute editor extension (Attribute Inspector, Eneroth Attribute Editor)?

I don’t know how and where ACT stores its properties, but it is very likely that it uses attributes either on the scene or on the camera object. If you change these attributes, ACT would (hopefully) take them up and apply them to the camera view.

ACT is not opensource and thus cannot be modified or enhanced, so it is worth to try the existing tools before developing a completely new extension.

Like yourself I do the same thing. These days it is hard to rely on the stock camera listings for accurate information. So many of the cameras are changing too quickly to keep up. Then add the Alexa 65 upon which you might place a 50mm lens but the 50mm lens tables are not accurate for how this lens performs on this size chip.

So more often than not I find it better to express the view/render in terms of “field of view angle” then a DP can find the equivalent lens that can reproduce that depending on the chip size of the camera they choose to use etc. ( if they even want to replicate the shot) . Often the design process is happening before a DP is involved and we don’t know what camera system they may use, but at least the FOV info is generic enough to transpose. I dont know about your own experience but more often than not a set illustration is a wider more generic view to show the extent of a build etc. and not so often to dictate the exact shot as that often feels like we are treading on the toes of the DP?!.. unless it’s specifically called for.

Have you tried Fredo’s animator. It’s the only SU plugin that allows fairly accurate timing of camera moves and camera positions with the ability to have acceleration and deceleration as well as the ability to animate objects too.