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Thu, Dec 15 2011 18:06:00 UTC

Interview with iDevCam

Today we have an interview with the creator of iDevCam, an iOS app that allows you to control 3DS MAX from your device.

Could you briefly describe yourself?

Hi, my name is Artur Leão, I'm 30 years old and I work as a TD for a post-production house in Portugal. I started out as a programmer in Pascal and Clipper and after some years working on Autocad and Solidworks I decided I wanted to work in the movies! So I was introduced to 3dsmax and here I am

What is iDevCam and what are some of its features?

iDevCam is an iOS app that allows 3dsMax users to interactively move and rotate the camera just by holding their device. This was my very first attempt to let users have some kind of system as we saw in the latest feature films like Avatar and Rango, with it's limitations for sure but in terms of pricing and availability it's a must have.

Why would someone want to use this as opposed to the traditional mouse and keyboard?

Well, as I've mentioned before, using iDevCam gives you a real camera effect such as handheld camera, also it allows for a director or anyone for that matter to work in realtime in a 3D scene, with no need to have knowledge in moving 3D cameras or rotating them. The natural movement created by iDevCam will always be much more real than using the mouse, keyboard, noise controllers, etc.

You've recently released version 1.5, what are the biggest new features?

One of the features that for me was kind of a surprise because I first implemented it to be just a debug and ended up in the final app is the Playback Control, as this may seem something very simple it also is very handy. It takes iDevCam to another level, where it can be used for presentations for example, you can open your Max file, fire up iDevCam and just press play, stop, rewind, play again! Imagine this when you're doing a presentation or a workshop, you will be the cool guy at the party!

Other two very important features that were added was the fact that you now have two additional filters to the raw movement already present in v1.0. Both these filters smooth out the movement of the camera, great to create fly-bys, dolly/crane movements, etc.

Last but not least is the ability to now transform the camera in all axes, not only on XY.

Right now iDevCam is only for 3DS MAX, do you plan to expend that control scheme to other programs?

Well..... noyes. Was that clear? I'll explain, I'm more comfortable working in 3dsMax since it's my software of choice to work with, so doing it for another program would involve me learning new coding skills and I really find it hard to do that in a timely manner. For now I prefer to focus on iDevCam in 3dsMax and we'll see about the future... You might first see an Android version rather than iDevCam for Maya for example but don't quote me on that.

How hard was it to create this app, and how much time did it take you?

That is a good question, you know, I never coded for iOS or anything Mac, so this was a shot in the dark that went very well, I started learning the basics with the free developer account from Apple but I soon realized that I was going to need the full account to start coding and debugging on my iDevice, so I took a leap of faith and everything went well. The tricky part was that I needed to develop on iOS and at the same time write it's counterpart in Maxscript so I could get the data from the iDevice to Max, it took me about a month from knowing nothing about iOS to have the app released in the App Store.

Are you working on any other apps for iOS?

Hands on? No, on the table? Yes and all I can say is it will be a joint venture and again related to the VFX community.

How's the user feedback been so far?

The feedback has been great, a lot of people e-mailed me with suggestions and feature requests. I was totally blown away with this. I was even more surprised when some people who work in the movie industry emailed me saying they loved the app, so I hope someday in a near future to see some shots done using iDevCam to record the camera! I thank to everyone who bought the app. THANK YOU!!!

Any new feature coming to the app that you can talk about?

For sure and nothing better than the features that have been requested by users, who better than the people who are using the app, right? Keep in mind that these features will be in a free update also. Here's some I have on my wishlist but I don't promise all of them will make it to release:

- Clear keys for specific tracks (Move, Rotate)
- Reduce keys after recording (filtering the animation based on a threshold)
- Offline recording to an CSV file for later use.

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