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More Lighting and Shadows

More Lighting and Shadows
CreativeCOW After Effects Tutorial


More Lighting and Shadows-- This is part 2 of a 2-part tutorial on Shadows
Bill O'Neil Bill O'Neil
www.chicagospots.com
Chicago, Illinois, USA


©2005 by Bill O'Neil and CreativeCow.net. All rights are reserved.

Article Focus:
In part two of our Shadows tutorial, Bill O'Neil continues with an explanation of an effect that he's constantly asked how it was done. He doesn't use 3D -- it's done entirely in After Effects and the coolness of the scene is mostly from the lighting and shadows. As an added bonus, Bill includes his project files for snow and smoke.



I get a lot of questions related to the Midway Games titling clip that appears on my website. This is strange to me because it was so simple to create. There was no 3D program used. It was done entirely in After Effects with two text layers, a ground layer and some spotlights. I added a smoke layer behind the text and a snow layer in front but the coolness of the scene is mostly from the lighting and shadows.

Let’s get started.

Take a look at the COW version of this movie by clicking here.
Download your project file here.




I included the ground texture layer in the tutorial which is tiled a few times to make our runway for the camera.

The black, foreground text layer was copied and placed slightly behind the first layer. I changed the color to white and made it flicker by key-framing the opacity parameter. This layer would serve to give the text an edge as if backlit from the lights behind it. It also gives the text a 3D look.




There are two lights behind the text that are animated slightly from side to side. Because the lights are at the same level as the text, we will see very long shadows cast on the ground layer that sweep across the foreground. You can adjust the cone angle of the spotlight so it doesn’t spread out past the edges of the ground layer. You can also adjust the spot light’s edge softness. The light’s intensity is also animated to give a lightning effect. (Lighting while it’s snowing? I know but it looks cool.)

Make sure accept lights and shadows are turned on for your ground layers. Also make sure the black text layer and the lights have cast shadows turned on.

You can tweak the ground layer’s material settings to allow for more or less shine.

In this clip the camera and its point of interest are racing toward the logo. The camera’s proximity to the ground gives the scene more excitement especially with motion blur turned on. For more drama you can slowly animate the camera sideways to allow the long shadows to breath. You’ll find more details of camera motion in my “Shooting for 3D post” tutorial.


SMOKE

Included in this tutorial is a project file that has a simple smoke recipe using “CC PS LE Classic” particles (effect, simulation). The project file includes a grad layer to blur the lower half of the smoke and a comp that will give you a seamless loop of the billowing smoke.
Click here to download the smoke project file




The smoke clip is pretty handy to place behind titles or to use as an undulating holdout matte. For this clip I layered the smoke loop side by side to cover the length of the text. In the Smithe “Lamp Battle” spot from part 1 of this shadow tutorial, I positioned the smoke clip on the ground behind the actors. Make sure to use the “screen” transfer mode to allow for transparency.


SNOW

I also included a snow project file using particle playground. You can render this out and place it above the other layers. The snow and flashing shadows are also a great way to hide imperfections in the scene while adding drama.
Click here to download the snow project file

Click here if you missed part one of Dressing Up a Scene With Shadows

Bill O’Neil
Go to Bill's site to see more of his work: www.chicagospots.com

Y.

Discuss this technique or others in the After Effects forum at CreativeCOW.net.





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