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Compositing 3D objects into photographs

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Date Added: 13th August 2014
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Camera sensors

A full frame photo is considered to be 24 x 36mm, however most cameras use sensors of smaller sizes. When using such a camera it seems that the camera is zooming in but all it does is crop part of the image as seen here.

Different cameras have different sizes of sensors. For example, Canon's sensor size is 1.6 times smaller than full frame, Nikon and Sony are 1.5 times smaller.

Showing an example of how a camera typically crops an image

Analysis of the EXIF info in the photo

3ds Max is set to work with full frame photos, so when manually setting the camera focal length found in EXIF data, it needs to be multiplied by the crop factor (1.6 or 1.5, depending on the camera model).

Check the focal length and find out the crop factor of the camera model. The time and date when the photo was taken is used for positioning the sun in a 3D scene using the Daylight system. Create a free camera in 3ds Max and enter focal length.

Working out the focal length and crop factor

Matching render settings

The render settings in the dialogue window should be changed to match the proportions of the photograph.

Making sure the render settings match the photograph

Setting the photo background

Set the selected photo as a background using Alt+B. Select Use Files, set Match Rendering Output in the list of settings of Aspect Ratio, and then click Apply to Active View. Click OK.

Setting the photograph as a background to the viewport

The scene so far

At this stage we have a 3D scene containing the existing objects that are set on the corners of visible CamPoints, and a photo on the background of the viewport projection. Now we can move on to the Camera Match dialogue window.

Preparing to move on to the camera match dialog window

Assigning camera positions

There is a list of CamPoints and an Assign Position button in the image below. Select each CamPoint on the list, click Assign Position and try to match its location on the photo as accurately as possible. Do it with every CamPoint.

If you wish 3ds Max to calculate the focal length and create a new camera automatically, just click on Create Camera. It could be that its position won't be entirely correct though. There are 2 ways to correct it by either moving it manually or adding more CamPoints and clicking on Modify Camera.

It is highly recommended that you create a camera yourself, and manually set the focal length. Check the Freexe FOV boc and click on Modify Camera.

Assigning camera positions to the CamPoints in the scene

Related links

Check out Indre Kuzminiene's website for more
For more 3ds Max projects, check out our book

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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
Ethan Janssens on Thu, 14 August 2014 9:55am
Thank you for taking the time to write this tutorial. We have a few questions regarding matching the photocamera lens into a 3D Digital Camera inside 3D Studio Max: When we check our photographs taken with a Nikon in Bridge we see following numbers (for example): Focal Length: 18.0mm Focal Length in 35mm film: 27.0mm As we understand we need to imput the 27.0 mm in the lens angle in the 3D Studio Max camera since max works with "36mm aperture" - (see common settings) We're never heard of this "sensor" sizes. Could you please share a source link of some sort where we can check if these values are correct? This means we not only need to take the 35mm-matching angle, but ALSO multiply that number by the sensor cropping number in order to have the true camera-angle for the 3D Studio Max camera? Regards, Ethan
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