Maya 2017 - Cameras

From TOI-Pedia

Camera types

Create a camera

Create a new camera

To create a camera go to Create » Cameras. Maya distinguishes three types of cameras: Camera; Camera and Aim; Camera, Aim and Up. The basic camera is normally used for static scenes and simple animations. For more complex animations the other two cameras are used. A basic camera can be created via the Create menu or by clicking the camera icon in the Rendering shelf.

Perspective versus orthographic

Perspective or orthographic view

A new camera is by default set to perspective view. However Maya distinguishes two viewing types: perspective and orthographic. By default Maya has one perspective camera (persp) and three orthographic cameras (top, front, side).

Orthographic views are useful for technical views such as elevations and isometric representations, while perspective views can give a more realistic representation of the model. See the image below for the difference between perspective (upper panel) and orthographic views (lower panel).

To change a camera from perspective to orthographic view go to the Camera Attribute Editor and check the Orthographic checkbox.

Perspective or orthographic view

Cameras, Views and Panels

The Maya workspace has one or more panels, which can hold a bunch of stuff but most often contain a camera view. Each view displays the scene as seen through one of the cameras present. You can change which camera you are looking through by selecting a different camera in Panels » Perspective or Panels » Orthographic. This menu is found in the menu bar of each panel.

An new scene always contains 4 cameras by default: persp, front, side and top. It is recommended to create new cameras for rendering.

Positioning cameras

Positioning methods

Look through selected camera

Cameras can be positioned using the Move, Rotate and Manipulator tool or by looking through the camera.

  • Look through camera: Select the camera you want to position and within a viewport go to Panels » Look through selected. Then use normal mouse navigation to position the camera. This is an intuitive way to put your camera it the right place.

Move tool
  • Move and Rotate tool: Select the camera you want to position. Use the Move and Rotate tool from the toolbox to position the camera. By using this method it is easier to place the camera in an exact position. In combination with these tools you can also use the channelbox.

Rotate tool

  • Manipulator Tool: Select the camera you want to position. Use the Manipulator Tool from the toolbox or Modify » Transformation Tools » Show Manipulator Tool to position the camera. The Manipulator Tool allows you to position the camera as well as the position of the center of interest (aim) of the camera. Hotkey T.
Aim camera to point

Using multiple views (see viewports can be very useful when positioning cameras. Use one viewport to look through the camera and use tools from the toolbox in other viewports to position the camera.

Locking cameras

Select camera attributes

When a camera is exactly in the position where you want it to be and want to prevent accidentally moving the camera you can lock it. To lock the camera transform and shape attributes select all these attributes in the Channel Box by dragging or shift-selecting the attributes (make sure the camera is selected). When selected click and hold the right mouse button and release when holding the cursor over Lock Selected.

When an attribute is locked its field will turn grey.

Right click and lock selected

Camera attributes

General camera attributes

Different camera focal length values.
Angle of View

The default value is 54.43. By increasing this value a wide angle view is created but the model will also look more deformed as the value increases. The same holds when decreasing the value.

Focal length

This attribute sets the distance of the focal point of the camera (the lens) which is by default set to 35. By decreasing this value a wide angle view is obtained, while by increasing the value it will look as if a telephoto (long-focus) lens is being used. The lens size (value) also determines the amount of perspective distortion, see the image below.

Clipping planes
Display and modify clipping planes through multiple viewports

The near and far clip plane of the camera determine where the camera starts and respectively stops showing objects. The near clipping plane is by default set to 0.1 (units) which is by just in front of the camera. The far clipping plane is by default set to 1000 (units). When there's a very large model in the scene the entire model might not be visible while this is desired. In other situations it might be desired to "look through" objects which are in between the camera and the model or leave objects out which are far behind the model and not of direct interest. These problems can be solved by modifying the clipping planes. This can be done in two ways: using the camera attribute editor or by displaying the camera's clipping planes and changing them in the scene through a viewport.

To turn the display of the clipping planes on/off go to Display » Rendering » Camera/Light Manipulator » Clipping planes. Make sure the camera of which you want to display the clipping planes is selected.
  • Modifying clipping planes using the camera attribute editor: The distances from the camera to the clipping planes can be changed numerically via the Camera Attribute Editor. To visualize this turn on the clipping planes display (see tip above and image below). This changing method is exact and well usable when the precise distance between camera and objects is known. For instance when you want to make a section through a building exactly 5units from the facade, place the camera 20units from the facade and change the near clipping plane to 25units, making it intersect with the model.
When objects or part of a model seem cut off because they are too large, place the far clipping plane further away from the camera.
Creating a section of the building by changing the near clipping plane
  • Modifying clipping planes by displaying and dragging the planes: A more intuitive way to position the clipping planes is drag the planes into their position. To be able to do this first display the clipping planes of the camera (see upper tip). With any standard tool from the toolbox selected you can now click and drag a clipping plane onto the desired position. If the clipping plane is too close to the camera you might not be able to select it. To solve this offset the clipping plane numerically in the Camera Attribute Editor before trying to drag it.
Positioning clipping planes is often easier using multiple viewports looking at through the selected camera in one viewport (to see the result) and changing the clipping planes in another viewport looking at the selected camera (with the clipping planes displayed).

Output settings


For the environment a background color or an image can be used. The environment is set per camera not per scene.

  • Background color: use slider or color picker.
  • Image plane: click on Create. Click on the folder icon next to the Image Name field to browse a file.

Display settings

  • Resolution gate: shows a frame in the viewport of the camera within the objects are rendered. The resolution is set in the Render Settings Common Tab.

Orthographic Views

  • Check to change from perspective to orthographic view.


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