How to rotate a Basis to face a specific z-direction

Godot Version

4.2.1 stable


Hey there, I’m struggling to understand rotations and how to rotate to face certain directions.

I’ve got a basis that can be rotated in any orientation, and an arbitrary Vector3 that I want to use as a new forward facing direction for my basis. Ideally, I’d like a shortest-path rotation.

I’m lost because I don’t know how to find the axis of rotation. It could be on the X, or Y, or both. Or maybe it’s some imaginary axis that’s a combination of both?

Any help would be appreciated! I’ve tried the built-in function looking_at(), which sounded promising, but I can’t get working.

Maybe I am getting a bit confused with the language here, but what do you mean by “Rotate” a basis. Usually people use a set of Basis vectors to represent some kind of space or transformation.

Do you mean that you choose a basis for some linear transformation, and you made your Vector3 from that transformation, and now you you would like to know how much it rotated?

I am confused by your question.

I may be confused myself, I’m just now getting into Godot and 3D programming in general.

From my understanding, a Node3D has a transform, which is made of a Basis and Origin. The Origin is its position in space, and the Basis is its orthonormalized rotation + scale. Is that correct?

For a little more detail, I have a CharacterBody3D. The movement direction, however, is different from the physical orientation of this node. To separate the movement and orientation, I created a separate transform/basis that will be used for movement (I could use a straight Vector3 for a direction, but I think a transform/basis will be better for what I want to accomplish in other areas of the project). I want to rotate this movement transform/basis, and not the node’s own transform. But instead of “adding” or “taking away” some rotation around an axis using input or something, I have a specific forward direction I want the movement transform.basis.z to actually become instantly.

I may be going at this whole thing the wrong way, but when I look at this page in the documentation, it tells me to not use Euler angle rotation and instead rotate the transform/basis.

Not sure about Godot, but definition of basis in Linear Algebra is that a basis for a space must be linearly independent and span that space. So orthonormalized + scale could be correct as orthonormal implies linearly independent.

I’ll have to look at the docs for that.

A transformation in general takes a vector from one space to another space. And so you can use a transformation on a vector to take it to somewhere else. No problem. If you want to change this transformation. In linear algebra, you would usually use a composition of matrices, e.g. Rotate then translate.

I’m not sure what the equivalent is in Godot, sure I am sure it is possible to use a transformation matrix to move your character.

I think I’ve figured out a solution to my problem. It was indeed the “looking_at()” function! On first attempt, I was entering in the wrong direction, which was causing some strange bugs. I thought I had figured out which direction to use, but apparently not until now. Thanks for your assistance!

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