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Create Video of Rotating 3D Plot

4.9 | 18 ratings Rate this file 97 Downloads (last 30 days) File Size: 810 KB File ID: #41093 Version: 1.0
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Create Video of Rotating 3D Plot


Alan Jennings (view profile)


Specify a set of view angles and this function creates a video for use in presentations.

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CaptureFigVid(ViewZ, FileName,OptionZ)
Captures a video of the 3D plot in the current axis as it rotates based on ViewZ and saves it as 'FileName.mpg'. Option can be specified.

ViewZ: N-rows with 2 columns, each row are the view angles in degrees, First column is azimuth (pan), Second is elevation (tilt) values outside of 0-360 wrap without error,
*If a duration is specified, angles are used as nodes and views are equally spaced between them (other interpolation could be implemented, if someone feels so ambitious).
*If only an initial and final view is given, and no duration, then the default is 100 frames.
FileName: Name of the file of the produced animation. Because I wrote the program, I get to pick my default of mpg-4, and the file extension .mpg will be appended, even if the filename includes another file extension. File is saved in the working directory.
(OptionZ): Optional input to specify parameters. The ones I use are given below. Feel free to add your own. Any or all fields can be used
OptionZ.FrameRate: Specify the frame rate of the final video (e.g. 30;)
OptionZ.Duration: Specify the length of video in seconds (overrides spacing of view angles) (e.g. 3.5;)
OptionZ.Periodic: Logical to indicate if the video should be periodic. Using this removed the final view so that when the video repeats the initial and final view are not the same. Avoids having to find the interval between view angles. (e.g. true;)

% % % Example (shown in published results, video attached) % % % %
daspect([1,1,.3]);axis tight;
CaptureFigVid([-20,10;-110,10;-190,80;-290,10;-380,10], 'WellMadeVid',OptionZ)

Known issues:
MPEG-4 video option only available on Windows machines. See fix where the VideoWriter is called.

Getframe is used to capture image and current figure must be on monitor 1 if multiple displays are used. Does not work if no display is used.

Active windows that overlay the figure are captured in the movie. Set up the current figure prior to calling the function. If you don't specify properties, such as tick marks and aspect ratios, they will likely change with the rotation for an undesirable effect.

Cheers, Dr. Alan Jennings

Required Products MATLAB
MATLAB release MATLAB 7.14 (R2012a)
Other requirements Windows OS (for default mpg video format, or Mac with MATLAB 2013a and later) Monitor
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Comments and Ratings (25)
20 Feb 2017 Suntaree

It's awesome function.
Thank you Dr. Alan Jennings for the awesome code.

16 Nov 2016 Gregory Czarnota

30 Oct 2016 Juan Baeza

02 Aug 2016 leo nidas

Adding transparency (alpha(0.3)) is not working for me. Is there a tunraround? See example below. Even though it seems that the necessary frames are captured, the final movie file only shows a still image. Thanks.

%% Set up 3D plot to record
daspect([1,1,.3]);axis tight;
%% Set up recording parameters (optional), and record
CaptureFigVid([-20,10;-110,10;-190,80;-290,10;-380,10], 'WellMadeVid',OptionZ)

Comment only
06 Jun 2016 Jessica Benjamin

Also (apologies for bombarding with comments/questions) is there a way to make the background white? I've used:


but it doesn't seem to be working and returns to grey in the video?

Comment only
06 Jun 2016 Jessica Benjamin

This is such a clear code and has helped so much - thank you. Just wondered if you had any tips - I'm making a rotating video of a 3D mesh for a presentation and would like it to keep looping through. When I use the 'loop' feature in powerpoint there's always a short pause before it restarts - any idea how to avoid that issue?

29 May 2016 Lucy Robinson

18 May 2016 Hongkai Dai

Very clear written code. Thanks

24 Apr 2016 Omid Hoseini

Great code. Thanks.

24 Apr 2016 Omid Hoseini

09 Feb 2016 Charles Dunn

This code worked perfectly on first use. Well documented. Thank you!

27 Oct 2015 Alan Jennings

Alan Jennings (view profile)

Hi Richard,
Thanks for adding the quote from the help file. I've seen getframe 'glitch' in some cases, but never had the opportunity (or motivation) to really track down how they crop up and are resolved on different platforms.
- Alan

Apparently, I can't do multiple comments on the same day...

Hi Thai, Glad it helps!
You could add another field for OptionZ for specifying the frame size. I don't think there's a great way of doing this in general. The way I normally do it, is to size the figure and then crop the matrix from getframe:
A_temp = getframe(gcf);
A_temp = A_temp(OptionZ.fWidth(1):OptionZ.fWidth(end),OptionZ.fHeight(1):OptionZ.fHeight(end))
I don't have MATLAB here, so there's a good chance there's some typos here. I often get the width and height mixed up.
HTH, Alan

Comment only
26 Oct 2015 Richard Edmonds

Hi, as per the help on getframe. "Setting the figure Renderer property to zbuffer or painters works around limitations of using getframe with the OpenGL renderer on some Windows® systems." Doing this solved the "static image" problem found by Christian Jensen below.

23 Oct 2015 Thai V. Hoang

Great contribution!
Can we specify the frame size from the scripts?

22 Jun 2015 Vasily Ruzov

Great job! Great script and great videos!

12 May 2015 Adam Erickson

Thank you, Alan. I thought that might be the case. Post-processing using After Effects video stabilization might offer a good solution without a major re-write, which is what I will try now. Mayavi in Python is also pretty smooth and offers a nice alternative.

Comment only
04 May 2015 Alan Jennings

Alan Jennings (view profile)

Hi Adam,
The short answer is, you don't make it better. Sorry.
MATLAB 3d plots and patches have always had some issues. I thought if I'd try hard enough, I could fix them, but it's just not the tool for that, just like you wouldn't want to make animations in PowerPoint.

The two main issues I've seen are the aspect ratio and limit jumping around for 3d plots (what I think you are referring to), and order/overlap being in the wrong order.
You can manual set the axes limit, axes pixel limits and aspect ratio every frame, but it's a whole lot of work to make it looks better, and sometimes perfect is impossible. The other issue is that based on the 3d location, some meshes should be hid by other meshes, but instead they are shown on top. I don't think the order you plot them affects this, but it's been a while and I don't remember. My suggestion is to change the renderer.

Hope this helps, Alan

Comment only
01 May 2015 Adam Erickson

Hi Alan,

Thank you for the excellent script! I'm getting very smooth video with point plots, but the mesh plots have a lot of jiggling to them, which ends up looking like camera vibration. How can I fix this?

14 Aug 2014 Casey

Casey (view profile)

20 May 2014 Lazaros Moysis

Lazaros Moysis (view profile)

Thanks for your reply! that helped me for sure! Changing the rating to 5.

19 May 2014 Alan Jennings

Alan Jennings (view profile)

Glad it helped Lazaros!
To make it bigger, just make the figure window bigger.
If you’re having issues with the compressions with the ‘MPEG’ format, you can add a quality factor, but the default of 75 (of 100) normally works good for me.
Add the following lines to the function, CaptureFigVid.m
Line 72:
if isfield(OptionZ,'Quality')
And then from where you call it, add

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16 May 2014 Lazaros Moysis

Lazaros Moysis (view profile)

Can you specify the size of the video to upgrade the quality and make it better looking?

11 Mar 2014 Lilian

Lilian (view profile)


Can you help me transform this function
function Graf1()
for i = 1:length(x)
for j = 1:length(y)
if (a*abs(x(i))) <= abs(y(j))
z(i,j) = abs(y(j))
if (( abs(x(i)) <= abs(y(j)) ) && ( abs(y(j)) <= a*abs(x(i))))
z(i,j) = a*abs(x(i));
if (b*abs(y(j))) <= abs(x(i))
z(i,j) = abs(x(i))
if (( abs(y(j)) <= abs(x(i)) ) && ( abs(x(i)) <= b*abs(y(j))))
z(i,j) = b*abs(y(j))



title ('Plot Title', 'FontWeight','Bold','FontSize',11) % Add labels...
xlabel ('X Axis Label', 'FontWeight','Bold','FontSize',11)
ylabel ('Y Axis Label', 'FontWeight','Bold','FontSize',11)
zlabel ('Z Axis Label', 'FontWeight','Bold','FontSize',11)
grid on ; % Switch on the figure grid, and
set(gca,'GridLineStyle','-') % set the grid to solid li

I do not understand how can I rotate my graph drawing function.

Thank you !!! :)

04 Sep 2013 Christian Jensen

If I don't include (...,'FaceLighting','phong')
in my surf plot, the figure spins but the movie is just one static image. Why is that?

Comment only
04 Apr 2013 arnold

arnold (view profile)

Thanks! A couple of bugs/ideas:

1. You should make it an option to fix the "zoom pumping", maybe it is the camera position, that rotation the plot under a larger elevation (say 45°) does not cause the plot to zoom in and out in every quadrant while rotating. Try this to see what I mean:

CaptureFigVid([0,45;-359,45], 'WellMadeVid',OptionZ)

Just as an example, this file solves this quite nicely

2. spacing the view angles makes sense, but I don't get why I can only specify two view angle pairs. In line 89 you limit this. Why not make it dependent on OptionZ.Periodic?

3. OptionZ.Periodic=true still causes a non-smooth jump when looping the video. Don't know why this is exactly

4. Add export for an animated gif instead of mp4. How to write one can be seen here:

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