Tomlinson et al., in their paper on expressive autonomous cinematography, quote a statement by Steven Drucker at SIGGRAPH ’99: ”It was great! I didn’t notice it!”. Drucker was commenting Tomlinson’s work presented at SIGGRAPH that year and, in his comment, he clearly associates the quality of a camera control system with the lack of intrusiveness. How can we achieve such a result? how is it possible to take the control of the camera from the player but still moving the camera the way the user would have wanted (or as close as possible)?
In the last two decades, the majority of the research on camera control aimed (and still aims) to create automatic camera control systems. New algorithms have been devised or adapted to address specific camera control issues; some researchers focused more on the planning issues, some others on the composition or the camera animation.
Little or no research has been carried out on the instructions a camera control system should follow; however, this aspect appears extremely important to reduce the camera “intrusiveness”
So far, it has been largely assumed that a skilled designer should take care of the camera design process, but, already in 1997, Bares suggested the possibility to give back the control to the user/player. Bares’s approach requires the user to explicitly select some camera parameters, therefore it is not applicable to applications such as computer games. Fourteen years later, Yannakakis, Martinez and Jhala, in their article titled Towards Affective Camera Control in Games, suggested a way to implicitly move the camera according to the emotional state of the user. This work, somehow, applies the Bares’s early idea to a computer game and it also gives an interesting hint of the potential impact of camera control to the user experience.
They found out, for instance, that low and slow cameras generate frustration to the player, while moving the camera closer to the main character increases fun. Assuming that we have a detection mechanism for fun and frustration (face expression recognition, or a brain computer interface like an Emotiv EPOC) the camera could be adapted to influence the user experience.
Following the direction suggested by Yannakakis et al., it is possible to immagine a new approach to automatic camera control that indirectly includes the player in the camera control loop. We could design camera control systems able to learn camera preferences from the user and adapt the camera setting to improve the interactive experience.