The Nano Preview is perhaps one of the most frustrating features (or bugs) in Bryce ever since Bryce 2.0 – and it hasn't changed much since then! It can’t be resized or moved and the detail it displays is pathetic, especially on today’s high resolution monitors. While I won’t spend too much time on this "feature" in the main Bryce window, I have found some rather interesting and useful features in the Nano Preview’s siblings in the Materials Editor, the SkyLab and the Lighting Lab…
In each of these Previews there is an interesting and useful feature – the option to render the preview as it is in the actual scene you are creating.
In the Materials "Nano" Preview disable the "Render With Neutral Sky" and "Render With Neutral Ground" (why, for crying out loud, do these Americans insist on capitalising every word in a sentence or in this case a phrase – Do You See How Ridiculous It Looks When You Read It?) and then enable – by ensuring there is a check mark next to the item – Actual Selection. Now the Material Nano Preview will display a more accurate version of the object whose material you are working with.
In the Sky Lab Nano Preview, the option is different again (consistency throughout the Bryce interface was not high on the list of priorities for the Bryce programmers.) Enable "Render in Scene" which will disable "Render in Neutral". (you can also opt to select "Full Rendering" to make the Nano Preview more realistic but this can slow your computer down with complicated scenes.) This will display the preview more realistically so you can tweak settings and see what its final results will be on the Main Bryce window.
In the Light Lab Nano Preview, the options are the same as the Sky Lab for rendering and should be set to the same.
OK nothing to spectacular yet, but what I did discover is the each of these Preview acts like a independent camera that you can move around in the Bryce World. Pressing and holding down your left mouse button while it is on the Nano Preview and dragging the mouse around will rotate the scene around a central point in Bryce space. When you have got the right angle let go of the mouse and the Nano Preview will update, but if you return to the Main Bryce Window your current camera view has not changed. Very useful! Now what really comes in useful is using the 3 modifying keys when you click and drag your mouse in the Preview window:
- The Ctrl key allows you to zoom in and out of the object and to rotate your camera at a fixed height around the the object.
- The Space bar allows you to pan around the X and Y axis of the preview window. You cannot zoom or rotate the camera around the object.
- The Alt key is very useful when you get yourself totally lost in the Bryce world and resets the rotate, zoom and pan to the default settings.
I find this hidden feature very useful especially if I want to get to look at what is going on behind an object, to see how a particular light is interacting with objects in a scene, and look at other parts of the scene without returning back to the main Bryce window and using the Director Camera. With only the Camera View and Director’s View, you are limited to 2 cameras that give you 3-dimensional viewpoints. You cannot add cameras and even the memory dots for cameras are limited in how many you can have.
I also find the Sky Lab Nano Preview and the Light Lab Nano Preview useful as "extra" camera views as the preview window is larger and you can see more detail, compared to the postage stamp Nano preview in the main Bryce window.
If you have other uses for this feature or any other tips around this aspect of Bryce, be sure to let us know!