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Introduction to virtual cameras

Virtual cameras in Pixar films are designed to mimic real-life camera techniques by simulating properties like lenses, focal length, depth of field, and camera movement. This allows animators to create shots that resemble those captured by physical cameras, and allows them to experiment with different lens choices, camera angles, and compositions to achieve the desired look and feel for each scene, just as they would with real-life cameras.

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Video transcript

- Hi, I'm Patrick Lin, the director of photography for camera on Inside Out. - And I'm Adam Habib, camera lead on Inside Out. This lesson is about cameras, the art of using them, and the science behind them. We're talking about physical cameras first because the virtual cameras we use to make our movies are modeled after the real thing. - First, let's talk about lenses. The kind of lenses we put in front of the camera and how we adjust the amount of light that is traveling through that lens affects the image we record. Cheese. (camera shutter clicks) - [Adam] For instance, for this selfie we used a wide angle lens. If we change out the lens for a narrower long lens, like this 75 millimeter, the picture will look very different. - Smile. (camera shutter clicks) Whoa, we're barely in the shot. Looks like we have moved the camera but we haven't. In fact, to get the environment and ourself in this shot, with this lens, we have to move the camera a lot. Hey, Sylvia. - Hi. - Do you mind taking a photo for us? - Sure, were guys trying to take a selfie with this long lens? - Maybe. - Maybe. (drum roll) (camera shutter clicks) - Good thing they had a ladder here. - [Adam] Now that the shot is composed the same, you can see what else changes about the image because of our lens choice. For instance, notice what is in focus or out of focus. - [Patrick] In the wide angle image, almost everything is in focus and in the picture taken with the long lens, only a small part of the image is in focus. Another thing that changes is the feeling of perspective in the image. This means how close or far away the objects appear. - [Adam] In the wide angle shot, when the camera is closer, the nearer subjects appear a lot bigger and more remote objects feel farther away. - [Patrick] In the long lens shot, when the camera is farther away, there appears to be less distance between the nearer and the farther objects. Every choice you make with the camera changes the feeling of the shot and our job is to makes choices that supports the emotion of a story. - Let's go show them how it worked on Inside Out. (camera shutter clicks) This is the virtual camera we use to make our movies. It has interchangeable lenses just like the camera we used to take our selfie. - So depending on the lens we use and the placement of the camera, we should see a similar effect on the image. - [Adam] Here's a shot from Inside Out that is compositionally a lot like our selfie. Let's start with that same wide lens we used for the first selfie, the 18 millimeter. It looks okay, but we don't want to choose a lens just based on what we can fit in the frame. We want to ask ourselves, what is this scene about? - The core of the scene is about empathy, so all of our decisions in framing, composition, staging and lens choices should be guided by that idea. - [Adam] I think I'll try the 50 millimeter lens. Using this lens, and adjusting the depth of field, which determines what's in or out of focus, I think we'll get the right look. An image that focuses on the characters so the background just falls away. - There are many different feelings we support through our camera choices, fear, happiness, insecurity, wonder. In each case, we thought about how we could use the camera to amplify the emotions we wanted to achieve in that scene. There is a lot of cool stuff to learn so stay with us.