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Adding lights and working with Material Options

From: After Effects CS6 Essential Training

Video: Adding lights and working with Material Options

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.

Adding lights and working with Material Options

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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This video is part of

Image for After Effects CS6 Essential Training
After Effects CS6 Essential Training

78 video lessons · 55218 viewers

Ian Robinson
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 8s
    1. What is After Effects?
      1m 8s
  2. 2m 53s
    1. Welcome
      1m 40s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 13s
  3. 1h 8m
    1. The six foundations of AE
      5m 3s
    2. Introducing the interface and the workspace
      7m 51s
    3. Understanding compositions
      8m 48s
    4. Getting comfortable with layers
      7m 33s
    5. Getting started with animation and keyframes
      8m 30s
    6. Understanding effects
      3m 26s
    7. Moving in 3D space
      7m 41s
    8. Rendering your first animation
      8m 20s
    9. Specifying preferences and cache settings
      5m 44s
    10. Staying organized
      5m 15s
  4. 38m 6s
    1. Creating compositions
      7m 19s
    2. Importing footage and compositions
      7m 54s
    3. Preparing compositions for animation
      8m 7s
    4. Introducing renderers
      3m 15s
    5. Understanding precomposing
      7m 16s
    6. Relinking missing footage
      4m 15s
  5. 59m 58s
    1. Defining layers
      6m 23s
    2. Creating type
      5m 58s
    3. Creating layer solids and shapes with masks
      7m 55s
    4. Building shape layers
      6m 17s
    5. Understanding switches and blend modes
      8m 26s
    6. Crafting custom shapes and masks
      6m 18s
    7. Creating variable-width feathered masks
      5m 1s
    8. Rotoscoping with the Roto Brush
      8m 20s
    9. Refining with the Roto Brush
      5m 20s
  6. 1h 8m
    1. Understanding keyframes
      6m 1s
    2. Adding and adjusting keyframes
      9m 54s
    3. Interpolating keyframes
      8m 5s
    4. Adjusting keyframes in the Graph Editor
      7m 17s
    5. Understanding positional keyframes
      7m 0s
    6. Controlling animation with parenting and the pick whip
      9m 57s
    7. Understanding animation paths
      6m 27s
    8. Timing to audio
      4m 41s
    9. Trimming and sliding edits
      5m 31s
    10. Swapping images
      4m 1s
  7. 29m 7s
    1. Layering multiple effects
      9m 13s
    2. Generating graphic effects with adjustment layers
      7m 28s
    3. Building backgrounds with effects
      6m 50s
    4. Creating animated strokes
      5m 36s
  8. 40m 15s
    1. Introducing cameras
      10m 3s
    2. Working with 3D layers
      6m 37s
    3. Positioning layers
      6m 13s
    4. Adding lights and working with Material Options
      9m 21s
    5. Using 3D precompositions
      2m 5s
    6. Adjusting depth of field
      5m 56s
  9. 28m 31s
    1. Caching and prerendering
      6m 33s
    2. Understanding the alpha channels
      5m 18s
    3. Using the Render Queue
      4m 34s
    4. Rendering with Adobe Media Encoder
      7m 15s
    5. Archiving finished projects
      4m 51s
  10. 44m 27s
    1. Creating type animators
      12m 16s
    2. Animating type in 3D space
      6m 35s
    3. Adding and animating type on a path
      8m 45s
    4. Composing 3D type
      8m 41s
    5. Animating shape layers
      8m 10s
  11. 32m 45s
    1. Creating stylized video
      6m 47s
    2. Retiming video footage
      9m 31s
    3. Retouching with the Rubber Stamp tool
      10m 19s
    4. Smoothing shaky camera footage
      6m 8s
  12. 14m 19s
    1. Understanding keying
      3m 19s
    2. Creating a garbage mask
      4m 27s
    3. Getting started with Keylight
      6m 33s
  13. 15m 56s
    1. Importing Photoshop documents
      6m 11s
    2. Importing Illustrator files
      4m 24s
    3. Working With Premiere Pro projects
      5m 21s
  14. 1h 15m
    1. Adjusting ray-tracing quality
      8m 19s
    2. Tracking footage
      8m 15s
    3. Extruding shapes
      8m 39s
    4. Bending layers
      8m 38s
    5. Adjusting ray-traced lighting and materials
      9m 22s
    6. Adding environment maps
      4m 58s
    7. Beginning compositing
      8m 52s
    8. Creating render passes
      10m 17s
    9. Building a final composite
      8m 14s
  15. 1m 8s
    1. What's next
      1m 8s

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