Create panoramas of a scene with LightWave's Advanced Camera

The advanced camera in LightWave is a very flexible camera that can produce lots of interesting effects. One useful feature is that it can create panoramas of your LightWave scene which you can use as environment maps with Textured Environment or as reflection maps. This is a panoramic view of a room with differently coloured walls that was created with the Advanced Camera:

Panorama of a room with coloured walls.

I tested this method with LightWave 9.6. LightWave 10 users may have to change some settings.

Scene Setup

I created a basic scene which consists of a box (with all polygon normals facing inwards), whose sides all have different colors. I put the camera in the middle. This scene is therefore a simple room with a camera at the exact centre.

The scene consists of a box with the camera in the middle

Here is a render with the standard Perspective Camera at the 4:3 aspect ratio, with zoom factor set to 0.5 to show more of the walls:

Perspective camera view with zoom set to 0.5

Create a panorama suitable for spherical mapping

To use the Advanced Camera, change the camera type to Advanced Camera. Also, change the resolution so the height is half the width (e.g. 640 x 320):

Camera properties: set advanced camera type and set resolution to get a frame aspect ratio of 2

Setting the resolution in this way allows the field of view to show the entire scene in a panorama once the Advanced Camera is set up.

Click Properties next to advanced camera and set Horizontal FoV to “Cylinder” with 360 degree view angle and set Vertical FoV to “Same as Horizontal”:

Cylindrical field of view settings for panorama

This will render a 360 degree view horizontally and vertically. Setting the resolution so the height is half the width crops this view vertically to show only half of the 360 degrees of vertical FoV. The result is a map suitable for spherical projection:

Advanced camera view with cylindrical field of view.

You can also set the resolution so the height equals the width and then set the Vertical FoV to “Cylinder” with a view angle of 180 degrees to get the same view (but stretched a bit compared to what you see above).

If you set the vertical FoV to 360 degrees and leave the resolution equal to the height, the resulting image wraps around vertically all 360 degrees; this produces a view with redundant information as the horizontal FoV already wraps around the entire scene once.

Using the panorama

The resulting image can be used with the Textured Environment backdrop plugin as a spherical map. Start a new scene and add a Textured Environment as the backdrop. Use the following settings. Make sure axis is set to “Y”.

Textured Environment setup

Click the Texture button and add the cylinder view image as a spherical map. Use the following settings. Note that the Width Wrap Amount is -1.0 and the texture H rotation is set to 180 degrees. This is so Textured Environment uses the map in a way that matches the orientation of the original scene.

Textured Environment - Texture settings

If you set the camera type to Perspective, adjust the resolution to get a 4:3 aspect ratio (e.g. 640×480) and set the zoom at 0.5, you will get a view like this:

Textured Environment - Rendered

This is the same as the original scene rendered with the Perspective camera seen at the beginning of this tutorial. The quality in this image is lower since the panorama image was rendered at a low resolution. This can be fixed by increasing the resolution of the panorama.

Fish eye view

The Advanced Camera can produce other panorama-like renders. A spherical view will render the entire scene like a fish-eye lens. Because everything is computer generated, the fish-eye lens effect can be 360 degrees:

Advanced camera view with spherical field of view.

These are the Advanced Camera settings used to create this:

Spherical field of view settings for panorama

This type of map should not be used with Textured Environment or ImageWorld (which expects a light probe image), although it can do as a quick fix to get approximate lighting with Image World.

About Peter Yu I am a research and development professional with expertise in the areas of image processing, remote sensing and computer vision. I received BASc and MASc degrees in Systems Design Engineering at the University of Waterloo. My working experience covers industries ranging from district energy to medical imaging to cinematic visual effects. I like to dabble in 3D artwork, I enjoy cycling recreationally and I am interested in sustainable technology. More about me...

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