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Shadows are one of the most render- intensive things inside a 3D world in After Effects. Therefore, layers default to not casting shadows just to make rendering snappier. And indeed, you don't want to just blindly turn on shadows for every single layer. You should think about what layers are really need to be casting the shadows. Now you remember for the light, I've already set it to go ahead and cast shadows. That's good. And by default, all layers receive shadows. That's also good. So now let's focus.
I want my Text layer to cast shadows on this gritty wall behind, and the gritty wall is in front of the Dial layer, so I do want the video wall to Cast Shadows back there, so two of my layers need to Cast Shadows. I'll select my Text layer, type AA to reveal its Material Options, and enable Cast Shadows. The shortcut is Option+Shift+C on Mac, toggles with on and off or Alt+Shift+C on Windows. I'll twirl that up to clean it up, select the Skater layer, and use that shortcut--Option+Shift or Alt+Shift+C-- and now you'll see a slight shadow is cast back here upon my dial layer.
Let's look at this something more useful, like maybe a Custom View, so I get two alternate views of my scene to see how my shadow in a play is working. I'll select my light, start moving it around until I get a nice shadow pattern. It's kind of hard to put it where I want from the active camera view, but it'd be a lot easier from this Custom View, so that I have a more exaggerated perspective on my scene. Let's arrange it so the text is kind of interesting here. I'm going to the end of my Text animation and pick a shadow position that I like.
Think of tying to get that D to fit down of that space right around here, got a little bit of shadow falling back on my dial here. That's nice. And move to a couple of different points and times--see how things look. And if I like to set my light, type AA and play with those parameters a bit more. Of course, I want to increase the cone angle. It doesn't really buy me anything. Or I can reduce it to vignette my scene a little bit. I think I will put it right around where it was.
Light bump up that shadow darkness a little bit though, just get a little bit drama out of that, somewhere around there. I'll go back down to 1 View, look at a couple of different points and time. Now the point where the text is trying to fly in, you will see it is slower to render. It will take a little while to render, and now I've got some nice interplay taking place. And a little bit of shadow starts to appear on the dial just as it gets toward the end of our animation.
So we have all the components in place for our main composition. However, I think I can improve upon it and soak even more, refine it a little bit. So that's what we're going to focus on in the next chapter.
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