Consider removing image empties in favor of image empties
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Description

In 3d View under Properties panel, the Background Images placement has some really weird UX / UI. In my opinion it's so bad it can be considered broken, because more often than not I see artists opt-out of this and instead just use a textured plane in the viewport.

Which is sad, because the Background Images has advantages.

So the weird UI part is that, you see an X and Y input (which in itself I have never seen in blender before, just X and Y horizontal as separate inputs. [Fig. A in attached images] And the horrible UX is, the input doesn't correspond precise enough, I mean you click-drag the values and the image goes everywhere on the screen.

In my opinion, the proper UX / UI solution for an 3d artist would be, you are able to select the Background Image in 3d viewport, and translate / rotate / scale it just as any other 3d object. So the User experience is not different from what it would be to handle a 3d plane.

But a copy-paste fix, could be to look at the properties panel in the Node Editor for Background, and how it's designed. Where X, Y input are structured coherent with the rest of the user interface. Stacked vertically and coupled with a move button, that button and it's functionality would improve the current state how you move Background Images in 3D View.

[Fig. B in attached images]

*UX = User Experience
*UI = User Interface.

Details

Type
Design

At least in the 3D view, there's also the option of just using Image Empties that can be manipulated in these ways. AFAIK, it seems quite similar to the "textured plane" approach you mention, except it's not really "real" geometry that hangs around. That said, I haven't really used these enough to tell if there are some serious downsides to doing this (or whether they're already considered the "better" way of doing this).

On another note, there was also Julian's "widgets/manipulators" work that was at one point aimed at providing this sort of manipulation capabilities for things like background images, and other currently button-bound things. It is of course still quite far off.

So the weird UI part is that, you see an X and Y input (which in itself I have never seen in blender before, just X and Y horizontal as separate inputs.

It is a logical choïce in order to preserve vertical space in a column. You find same thing in Box and Ellipse Mask compositing nodes.
If you take a look in most of cases where X and Y inputs are aligned vertically, there is a third item (a dropdown list or a button) coupled with them to face them to an array in same row.

And the horrible UX is, the input doesn't correspond precise enough, I mean you click-drag the values and the image goes everywhere on the screen.

These X and Y inputs are offsets from World Origin as explained by tooltip. It is like coordinates of an object.
Your feeling just seems to be a problem of scale. If view is zoomed at a point where a BU is big on screen, a click-drag will move image quickly.
A Shift click-drag is supposed to solve the problem the same way it would do it for an object.

In my opinion, the proper UX / UI solution for an 3d artist would be, you are able to select the Background Image in 3d viewport, and translate / rotate / scale it just as any other 3d object.

Image Empties were created with this goal in mind.
Image Empties are visible in User and perspective views contrary to Background Images.

So, Background Images are now just easier to use than Image Empties to set-up an Image in Camera View.

In fact, if Image Empties have an option to be visible only in a standard View and Background Image for Camera View becomes an option of Camera ;
Background Images panel could be removed from 3DView properties.
If several 3DViews can use different layers, all actual workflows could be handle by different collectionsof Image Empties or some overrides of camera setting.

I think the long term idea here is to remove background images and instead improve image empties. The task here would mean making the image empty UI and feature match background images. These feature like you said should also be added to the backdrop for the compositor.

Aaron Carlisle (Blendify) triaged this task as Normal priority.Apr 16 2017, 9:30 PM
Aaron Carlisle (Blendify) updated the task description. (Show Details)
Aaron Carlisle (Blendify) renamed this task from Improve Background Images Placement UX to Consider removing image empties in favor of image empties.Apr 16 2017, 9:32 PM