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In this course, author Ian Robinson introduces Adobe After Effects CS6 and the world of animation, effects, and compositing. Chapter 1 introduces the six foundations of After Effects, which include concepts like layers, keyframes, rendering, and moving in 3D space. The rest of the course expands on these ideas, and shows how to build compositions with layers, perform rotoscoping, animate your composition with keyframes, add effects and transitions, and render and export the finished piece. Two real-world example projects demonstrate keying green screen footage and creating an advanced 3D composition with the expanded 3D toolset, an important addition to CS6.
Now when it comes to covering lights and materials inside of After Effects, you can't really have one without the other. So we have a lot of ground to cover and I want to give you a good broad overview of how lights and materials work together. In the interests of time, I have prebuilt our project. Now understand later on, I'll show you the inner workings of how to actually add a light to the scene, but for now broad brush strokes. When you're dealing with lights, you have to deal with the Material Options and Material Options are controlled by the renderer and of course the renderer is set where? In the composition.
So I need to check this composition to see what renderer we're working on. So if you look in the timeline, I have the 3D comp and in the upper left corner of the Comp Viewer, I'm in the 3D comp. So if you double-click the 3D comp, you can see okay, that's what I have opened, great. But if you look in the upper right corner of the Comp Viewer, the Renderer is listed as Classic 3D. Well that's excellent, but if you don't see this bar, that's not so excellent. So just to make sure you're seeing this bar, let's go to the flyout menu in the upper right corner of the Comp Viewer.
Now go down to the option here where it says Show Composition Navigator. If you deselect this, you can no longer see that nav bar. If we go back and reselect it, this is letting us know this is the renderer we're using. So if you click on Classic 3D, it automatically opens up to the Renderer settings, so you could change to Ray-traced if you wanted to. I'm going to click Cancel to get back out of there, and let's explore some of our light options.
Just because the scene is rather busy, let's use the Solo options for the lights. This is one of the things I love about dealing with lights in After Effects. If I solo the spotlight just by clicking the Solo button, it's smart enough to know that, yes I'm trying to solo the spotlight, but also any of the materials or layers that it's actually illuminating. So when I select that, I have yes, my Ground layer and my words, but you notice I'm not seeing any shadows. Let's enable the Ambient light so we have a little bit better view as to what's going on.
So let's look at our Spotlight options. If you double-click on the Spotlight, you can see we have Light Settings. Here, let me cancel this for a second. These are the same Light Settings you get everytime you go to create a new light. It pops up here, okay. So let's Cancel the new light, I'm going to double-click my Spotlight and adjust some of the settings. Now first thing in the lower left corner, we have Preview. You want to make sure that it's definitely enabled. At the top with the Spot options, you can always change any light to any of the other four lights at any time just by double-clicking the light and bringing up your settings.
Let's leave this set for Spot and you can change the color, so if I click on the color, it's sort of like adding a gel to the spotlight. See when I click red, it's adding this crazy red color, I don't want to do that, so I'm just going to click Cancel. Now the Intensity is the overall brightness of the light and let's crank that up to around 340. The Cone Angle, as you guessed it, how wide that spotlight is getting thrown, or how narrow. This is kind of cool if you want to animate it and have it sort of illuminate the word. The Cone Feather; this is how soft the transition is from the edge of your cone.
Now Falloff is one of my favorites. Inverse Square Clamped is the one I used about 90% of the time. This emulates how light falls off in the real world, exponentially from the light source. Smooth gives you your own adjustments in terms of distance and radius. Just so you can understand how distance and radius works, let's change it to Smooth and change the Radius down to around 25. Now when I hit Tab, notice it's just a soft transition that's happening here. That's because the Falloff Distance is set to 500, that means it's going to be 500 pixels all the way out after the 25 Radius.
I'm going to change this to around 25, and press Tab, and you can see, wow! It's pretty much gone. Let's crank up the Radius here, and now you can see there's my Falloff Distance and if I start increasing that, notice it's getting more smooth on the way out, okay. Let's change the Radius back up to 500 and the Falloff Distance to 500 and change the Falloff back to Inverse Square Clamped. Now I don't want to cast shadows right now, but just know that spotlights, yes you can cast shadows.
All you have to do is enable Cast Shadows. I'll cover those options in the next light. So make sure Cast Shadows is disabled and click OK. The Point Light is similar to the spotlight only in that it has a light and it can cast shadows. But here, if we enable the Point light and disable our spotlight, check it out, this casts light in 360 degrees. If I press C to grab my Camera tool and started orbiting around the scene here, you can see it's casting light very much like an exposed light bulb would, and that's why I love using the Point light.
If you double-click the Point Light options, it has all the same options except for the Cone Angle and Cone Feather. This is where I cast shadows and you can adjust how dark the shadows are as well as the Diffusion, which is how soft it gets when the shadow start flying away from the words. So if we bring the Diffusion down to zero, you can see I have very unrealistic shadows. So I like to usually set Diffusion somewhere in the 20s. Well no, let's do 50, okay perfect.
With this Shadow Darkness and this Diffusion, notice the shadow here is actually set kind of orange. That's controlled by the Material Options. So when I click OK, I want to first look at the kinet Material Options. So to look in Material Options for any layer, select kinet and press A twice and here I have an option for Casts Shadows, which is on, you can have it only cast shadows or no shadows at all.
Now I had Shadows set to On and Light Transmission determines how much of this color will show through. The other thing Light Transmission does is it allows light to literally illuminate the color as it travels through the object. See if we crank Light Transmission to zero, since the Point light is behind our word, we're not seeing any of the colors of the word, nor are we seeing that color bleed into the shadow. So let's crank up Light Transmission here. The other important settings you want to understand for materials are Accept Lights and Accept Shadows, both of which are on for this individual layer.
Now these other options here, we will definitely jump into the materials movie. But for now, I think you can see how lights and Material Options work together. Now we've covered the Point light and the Spot light, let's look at the Ambient light. If you double-click, the only thing you can adjust with the Ambient light is its Intensity, and this just adjusts the brightness of the scene overall. The last light other than Ambient, Point and Spot is actually a Parallel light.
So let's select our Point layer and press Command+D to duplicate it and we'll turn off the Solo for the original Point layer and double-click Point 2, change its Light Type to Parallel and look at what we have here. We have the same Intensity options and Falloff Radius options. We don't have the Cone Angle options, we can Cast Shadows, but there is no Diffusion option. That's because there is a direction, but since it's not coming out at an angle or a cone, there's no really diffuse setting for that.
Also there is no beginning and there is no end to this light. If we didn't have Falloff, if it will set to None, this light will just move infinitely in whatever direction it's pointed. So actually let's change Falloff to None and click OK and zoom in on the canvas so you can kind of see our options here. If we grab our Selection tool, notice I can click and drag to move my Parallel light, but if I hold down Command and drag it works just like the camera with the Point of Interest.
I can move it around in the scene and it's always going to point at that Point of Interest. So Parallel lights, again, no beginning, no end, they just go forever but they're pretty neat because they can actually create shadows. I hope you have enjoyed this rather in- depth overview of lights and materials so you could see how the scene was actually built. In the next scene, we're going to actually go ahead and add lights and make some of these adjustments.
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