When you are just walking around you probably don't consider, after a little while, your point of view, you grow accustomed to it and feel comfortable with it. In many other circumstances you will probably find your default point of view is far from ideal. While building you will want to be close to the prim you are manipulating, and you might want to change angles and positions regularly. If you want to take a photo of your latest outfit, that over the shoulder view hardly shows it off to its best, but a nice shot from in front, perhaps a little off to the side and maybe at eye height looks great... You can do all this and more with the camera controls.

Camera control paletteThere are two ways to control your camera, and although they achieve similar outcomes they are not quite identical. Most new users use the camera controls palette, most old hands use the keyboard:

  1. The camera controls palette, which can be toggled on (if off) via the View menu. This is divided into three sections:
    1. On the left the arrows rotate the camera around the point of focus, to the sides or up and down (in technical jargon this is called orbiting, because the camera orbits the point of interest like the Earth orbits the Sun);
    2. In the middle is the zoom controller. + moves you closer and - further away from the point of focus;
    3. On the right the arrows slide the camera (like it's on rails) to left or right, or up and down (also called panning) If you think of chase scene in a movie or a cop show, those scenes where you appear to run alongside the chaser, or the chased, use this technique to slide the camera to the side and keep the actor in shot.
  2. Control via the keyboard. The ALT key rules here. ALT and clicking on an object or avatar defines it as the point of focus. This can also be useful if you use the camera controls palette. In addition:
    • Holding down alt and moving the mouse left or right orbits the camera to left or right. Holding down alt and moving the mouse up and down zooms the camera in and out.
    • Holding down alt and cntl and moving the mouse orbits the camera - this time both horizontally and vertically, or in combinations if you move the mouse at an angle.
    • Holding down alt, cntl and shift and moving the mouse pans the camera in the direction of movement.

Pressing escape (twice for most users, once to close the chat bar, once to revert the camera) will revert the camera to its default, over-the-shoulder view or close to it. Moving your avatar will revert the camera instantly.

There are some other choices too (and one can be reached by accident!):

  1. Mouselook exists as an option, in the view menu (or Esc then M). You can also enter mouselook by accident if you focus on your avatar and then zoom too close. In mouselook, the feel is that you are inside your avatar's head and as you move the mouse, the focus of attention shifts. Whilst this can be useful for piloting aircraft, shooting guns and things, most people find it very odd to move this way. However, some proportion of people prefer it and you may be one of these. Pressing Esc twice will let you escape from mouselook.
  2. There are also, near the bottom of the view menu, three zoom options - zoom out, zoom default, zoom in (cntl-8, cntl-9 and cntl-0 respectively). These don't work in the same way as zooming from the other camera controls, rather they change the angle of your field of view as well. By default this is 90° but it can become as wide as 180° and much narrower too. Playing with zoom this way also moves the camera closer and further away, but that effect is quickly lost in the changed perspective of the different field of view.
  3. Finally, if you have the advanced menu active, you can turn off (and on again) the rendering of different items in Second Life. You can, for example, turn off rendering of all simple prims, and prims with alpha, wandering around in a Second Life with only land, sea, plants and mostly bald avatars. You can turn the avatars off too, or instead, and see wandering hair and skirts only. Or you can turn off the land (Cntl-alt-shift-5) to find that prim you've lost underground. Cntl-alt-shift-5 will turn it back on again. Although this may look chaotic and painful, the ability to turn clouds, particles and the land on and off is actually quite useful, and if you are interested in creating art in Second Life it can give some interesting effects.

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