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3D Camera Controls in Python

How to Control the Camera in your 3D Charts in Python with Plotly.


New to Plotly?

Plotly is a free and open-source graphing library for Python. We recommend you read our Getting Started guide for the latest installation or upgrade instructions, then move on to our Plotly Fundamentals tutorials or dive straight in to some Basic Charts tutorials.

How camera controls work

The camera position and direction is determined by three vectors: up, center, eye. Their coordinates refer to the 3-d domain, i.e., (0, 0, 0) is always the center of the domain, no matter data values. The eye vector determines the position of the camera. The default is $(x=1.25, y=1.25, z=1.25)$.

The up vector determines the up direction on the page. The default is $(x=0, y=0, z=1)$, that is, the z-axis points up.

The projection of the center point lies at the center of the view. By default it is $(x=0, y=0, z=0)$.

Default parameters

In [1]:
import plotly.graph_objects as go
import pandas as pd

# Read data from a csv
z_data = pd.read_csv('https://raw.githubusercontent.com/plotly/datasets/master/api_docs/mt_bruno_elevation.csv')

fig = go.Figure(data=go.Surface(z=z_data, showscale=False))
fig.update_layout(
    title='Mt Bruno Elevation',
    width=400, height=400,
    margin=dict(t=40, r=0, l=20, b=20)
)

name = 'default'
# Default parameters which are used when `layout.scene.camera` is not provided
camera = dict(
    up=dict(x=0, y=0, z=1),
    center=dict(x=0, y=0, z=0),
    eye=dict(x=1.25, y=1.25, z=1.25)
)

fig.update_layout(scene_camera=camera, title=name)
fig.show()

Changing the camera position by setting the eye parameter

Lower the View Point

by setting eye.z to a smaller value.

In [2]:
import plotly.graph_objects as go
import pandas as pd

# Read data from a csv
z_data = pd.read_csv('https://raw.githubusercontent.com/plotly/datasets/master/api_docs/mt_bruno_elevation.csv')

fig = go.Figure(data=go.Surface(z=z_data, showscale=False))
fig.update_layout(
    title='Mt Bruno Elevation',
    width=400, height=400,
    margin=dict(t=30, r=0, l=20, b=10)
)

name = 'eye = (x:2, y:2, z:0.1)'
camera = dict(
    eye=dict(x=2, y=2, z=0.1)
)

fig.update_layout(scene_camera=camera, title=name)
fig.show()

X-Z plane

set eye.x and eye.z to zero

In [3]:
import plotly.graph_objects as go
import pandas as pd

# Read data from a csv
z_data = pd.read_csv('https://raw.githubusercontent.com/plotly/datasets/master/api_docs/mt_bruno_elevation.csv')

fig = go.Figure(data=go.Surface(z=z_data, showscale=False))
fig.update_layout(
    title='Mt Bruno Elevation',
    width=400, height=400,
    margin=dict(t=30, r=0, l=20, b=10)
)

name = 'eye = (x:0., y:2.5, z:0.)'
camera = dict(
    eye=dict(x=0., y=2.5, z=0.)
)


fig.update_layout(scene_camera=camera, title=name)
fig.show()

Y-Z plane

In [4]:
import plotly.graph_objects as go
import pandas as pd

# Read data from a csv
z_data = pd.read_csv('https://raw.githubusercontent.com/plotly/datasets/master/api_docs/mt_bruno_elevation.csv')

fig = go.Figure(data=go.Surface(z=z_data, showscale=False))
fig.update_layout(
    title='Mt Bruno Elevation',
    width=400, height=400,
    margin=dict(t=30, r=0, l=20, b=10)
)

name = 'eye = (x:2.5, y:0., z:0.)'
camera = dict(
    eye=dict(x=2.5, y=0., z=0.)
)

fig.update_layout(scene_camera=camera, title=name)
fig.show()

View from Above (X-Y plane)

In [5]:
import plotly.graph_objects as go
import pandas as pd

# Read data from a csv
z_data = pd.read_csv('https://raw.githubusercontent.com/plotly/datasets/master/api_docs/mt_bruno_elevation.csv')

fig = go.Figure(data=go.Surface(z=z_data, showscale=False))
fig.update_layout(
    title='Mt Bruno Elevation',
    width=400, height=400,
    margin=dict(t=30, r=0, l=20, b=10)
)

name = 'eye = (x:0., y:0., z:2.5)'
camera = dict(
    eye=dict(x=0., y=0., z=2.5)
)

fig.update_layout(scene_camera=camera, title=name)
fig.show()

Zooming In

... by placing the camera closer to the origin (eye with a smaller norm)

In [6]:
import plotly.graph_objects as go
import pandas as pd

# Read data from a csv
z_data = pd.read_csv('https://raw.githubusercontent.com/plotly/datasets/master/api_docs/mt_bruno_elevation.csv')

fig = go.Figure(data=go.Surface(z=z_data, showscale=False))
fig.update_layout(
    title='Mt Bruno Elevation',
    width=400, height=400,
    margin=dict(t=30, r=0, l=20, b=10)
)

name = 'eye = (x:0.1, y:0.1, z:1.5)'
camera = dict(
    eye=dict(x=0.1, y=0.1, z=1.5)
)

fig.update_layout(scene_camera=camera, title=name)
fig.show()

Tilting the camera vertical by setting the up parameter

Tilt camera by changing the up vector: here the vertical of the view points in the x direction.

In [7]:
import plotly.graph_objects as go
import pandas as pd

# Read data from a csv
z_data = pd.read_csv('https://raw.githubusercontent.com/plotly/datasets/master/api_docs/mt_bruno_elevation.csv')

fig = go.Figure(data=go.Surface(z=z_data, showscale=False))
fig.update_layout(
    title='Mt Bruno Elevation',
    width=400, height=400,
    margin=dict(t=30, r=0, l=20, b=10)
)

name = 'eye = (x:0., y:2.5, z:0.), point along x'
camera = dict(
    up=dict(x=1, y=0., z=0),
    eye=dict(x=0., y=2.5, z=0.)
)

fig.update_layout(scene_camera=camera, title=name)
fig.show()

Note when up does not correspond to the direction of an axis, you also need to set layout.scene.dragmode='orbit'.

In [8]:
import math
import plotly.graph_objects as go
import pandas as pd

# Read data from a csv
z_data = pd.read_csv('https://raw.githubusercontent.com/plotly/datasets/master/api_docs/mt_bruno_elevation.csv')

fig = go.Figure(data=go.Surface(z=z_data, showscale=False))
fig.update_layout(
    title='Mt Bruno Elevation',
    width=400, height=400,
    margin=dict(t=30, r=0, l=20, b=10)
)

angle = math.pi / 4 # 45 degrees

name = 'vertical is along y+z'
camera = dict(
    up=dict(x=0, y=math.cos(angle), z=math.sin(angle)),
    eye=dict(x=2, y=0, z=0)
)

fig.update_layout(scene_camera=camera, scene_dragmode='orbit', title=name)
fig.show()

Changing the focal point by setting center

You can change the focal point (a point which projection lies at the center of the view) by setting the center parameter of camera. Note how a part of the data is cropped below because the camera is looking up.

In [9]:
import plotly.graph_objects as go
import pandas as pd

# Read data from a csv
z_data = pd.read_csv('https://raw.githubusercontent.com/plotly/datasets/master/api_docs/mt_bruno_elevation.csv')

fig = go.Figure(data=go.Surface(z=z_data, showscale=False))
fig.update_layout(
    title='Mt Bruno Elevation',
    width=400, height=400,
    margin=dict(t=25, r=0, l=20, b=30)
)

name = 'looking up'
camera = dict(
    center=dict(x=0, y=0, z=0.7))


fig.update_layout(scene_camera=camera, title=name)
fig.show()

Reference

See https://plotly.com/python/reference/#layout-scene-camera for more information and chart attribute options!

What About Dash?

Dash is an open-source framework for building analytical applications, with no Javascript required, and it is tightly integrated with the Plotly graphing library.

Learn about how to install Dash at https://dash.plot.ly/installation.

Everywhere in this page that you see fig.show(), you can display the same figure in a Dash application by passing it to the figure argument of the Graph component from the built-in dash_core_components package like this:

import plotly.graph_objects as go # or plotly.express as px
fig = go.Figure() # or any Plotly Express function e.g. px.bar(...)
# fig.add_trace( ... )
# fig.update_layout( ... )

import dash
import dash_core_components as dcc
import dash_html_components as html

app = dash.Dash()
app.layout = html.Div([
    dcc.Graph(figure=fig)
])

app.run_server(debug=True, use_reloader=False)  # Turn off reloader if inside Jupyter