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Camera Transformations Part 6: Matrix Transformation Tutorial

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Math Prerequisites

  3. Importance of Correct Transformations
  4. What a Matrix Represents
  5. Matrix Multiplication
  6. Transforming a Vector by a Matrix
  7. Object Space Transformations
  8. Camera Transformations
  9. Inverse Transformations
  10. Hierarchical Transformations

  11. Precision
  12. Conclusion

Camera Transformations

Good camera code is a key to a good vector engine. If the camera does not move correctly in a first-person type simulation, any hope of realism is lost. Fortunately, camera code is very easy to implement using matrices.

Each camera should contain one matrix which defines its current orientation. Like the object matrix, the camera matrix (I call it cmatrix) should be initialized to identity to avoid hideous errors. The camera matrix is built in exactly the same way as the object matrix, using CT, CX, CY and CZ. These translation and rotation matrices are made in exactly the same way as their object space counterparts, except for the obvious fact that they are made using camera rotation and translation vectors. Depending on your implementation, the components of the displacement vectors may need to be negated. Sometimes all of the [dx, dy, dz] and [xangle, yangle, zangle] need to be negated, sometimes some of them. Once again, it depends on your implementation. If you find your camera is moving forward instead of backward, right instead of left, up instead of down, etc. you need to negate a vector component somewhere. Once you get that straightened out, build the camera matrix like this

        [C] = [C] * [CT] * [CX] * [CY] * [CZ]

Once you have made the camera matrix, you can transform your object matrices to camera space with a simple matrix multiplication

        [E] = [O] * [C]

where [E] is the eyespace matrix, [O] is the object space matrix for the object, and [C] is the camera space matrix for the camera you are using (which we calculated above).

If you are an incredibly astute individual, you will have realized that I have left a step out of this process. Where did I add the world coordinates of the object's origin? The translation in the object matrix is a displacement which is added to the origin of the object, but what of the original value of the object's origin?

The reason I left this step out until now is because it is easiest to perform this operation in the middle of transforming an object to eyespace. Something to remember is that the object origin is expressed in terms of world space coordinates. If we want our transformations to be correct, we have to add world space coordinates to world space coordinates, adding them to camera or object space coordinates would give us incorrect results. The only time we have world space coordinates in this process is after object transformation is complete. At this time, we can add the coordinates of the object's origin to the origin vector found in the transformation matrix. Here is some example code illustrating this process. omatrix contains the object space transformation matrix, cmatrix contains the camera transformation matrix. ematrix will be the result of omatrix * cmatrix.

    (initialize tmatrix, xmatrix, ymatrix, zmatrix...)


    matmult(omatrix, tmatrix);      // translate the object
    matmult(omatrix, zmatrix);      // rotate about z
    matmult(omatrix, xmatrix);      // rotate about x
    matmult(omatrix, ymatrix);      // rotate about y

    initmatrix(ematrix);            // initialize eye space matrix to identity

    matmult(ematrix, omatrix);      // copy the object space matrix to eye space

    ematrix[3][0] += origin->lx;    // add origin vector
    ematrix[3][1] += origin->ly;
    ematrix[3][2] += origin->lz;

    matmult(ematrix, cmatrix);      // convert world space to eye space
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