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Creating shadows

From: After Effects CS5 Essential Training

Video: Creating shadows

Now we are going to add even more realism to our scene by adding real shadows, not faked Photoshop painted shadows, but real genuine shadows created from our light source, shadows that interact with the other objects in our scene. So, what I'm going to do-- it's actually a pretty complex process. I am going to double-click on the Light layer. I could open the Light layer up here and go into Light Options, but for me it just seems like it is easier just to double-click the Light and we get the same parameters right here. And what we are going to do is check Casts Shadows and then click OK.

Creating shadows

Now we are going to add even more realism to our scene by adding real shadows, not faked Photoshop painted shadows, but real genuine shadows created from our light source, shadows that interact with the other objects in our scene. So, what I'm going to do-- it's actually a pretty complex process. I am going to double-click on the Light layer. I could open the Light layer up here and go into Light Options, but for me it just seems like it is easier just to double-click the Light and we get the same parameters right here. And what we are going to do is check Casts Shadows and then click OK.

And when you do that, as a new After Effects user, it can be very frustrating because nothing seems to change very much. So, what I am going to do is I am gong to resize my layers, because what we need to do is go into the Material Options for each layer and change the Light and Shadow settings. So, I am going to select the top layer-- that's a Icon 5, layer number 5-- and I'm going to go down to the Green Barn Shadow on this layer 38. I am going to Shift+Click that layer so it selects all the layers between layers 5 and 38. Then I am going to press the letter A two times.

If I press it once, it is going to show us the Anchor Point property for each layer. We don't want that, so push A two times. A, A, and there we go. Here are the 3D options for every layer. Now making sure not to click anything else because it will mess our selection up, go to the Casts Shadows parameter. And we need to turn this on, because what's happening is it that there are shadows being cast by the light source. But in order for an object to cast shadow on to another object, we need to enable this setting here.

So, I am going to turn Casts Shadows from off to on and if you have all those layers selected, then all those layers will now be casting shadows. This is a mess though, so close this up with all theses layer selected by hitting Shift+Tilde and that will collapse those layers, clean things up in our Timeline panel nicely. Resize this and now we could see we have some shadows added to our scene. We have a shadow being cast. Here we could see it. We could see definitely this shadow here, all based on where this light is.

If we were to take this light and move it over and move the direction that it's pointing over, we would also be changing what receives shadow and how that shadow is being cast. Now one of the things that I don't like about this shadow, as cool as shadows are, is that it's just way too dark. I don't think I've seen this light would have shadows this completely dark. So, we can change that. Go ahead and go back to the Light layer, double-click it, and then let's take Shadow Darkness down to maybe 50%, and then let's go down to Shadow Diffusion and increase this, maybe to about 15-20, somewhere around there.

Shadow Darkness is basically kind of like an opacity switch for the shadow. So, by taking it to 50% we are basically saying that we want lighter shadows, which in a scene lit this bright, it looks weird to have shadows that are very dark. So, having 50% shadows are good and then Shadow Diffusion makes it so that there are softer edges, so it does not have hard edge, which gives it kind of a nice softer feel to our piece here. I am going to go ahead and click OK now. One of the things that's a little frustrating, going through all of this and going through all those settings where we enable camera casting shadows might seem a little frustrating.

But there are times, like say for example the way that this 2 icon is casting its shadow on the trees, it doesn't look very natural. I don't like it and actually let me get the Unified Camera tool and click and drag around so we can see the way that this is casting shadows. Because we softened it and diffused it, it's not as bad as it once was. But we might want really hard shadows, and it just didn't look very good in the tree. So, we might choose to take the number 2 icon and make just that one thing not casts shadows, and that's really the magic of lighting in After Effects, especially if you have been on a real world set.

You know that you can't easily exclude things from light that easily. You can't just click an on and off switch and have something not have light bounced onto it or have a shadow bounced onto it. But you can here in After Effects. And you could see the difference that these shadows make, the extra little bit of realism and depth that these shadows add. It's just remarkable. So, again, even though this 3D thing in After Effects is very simple, it's just flat layers arranged in a three- dimensional world, with these extra features they can be made to look much more realistic.

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This video is part of

Image for After Effects CS5 Essential Training
After Effects CS5 Essential Training

111 video lessons · 67451 viewers

Chad Perkins
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 5m 40s
    1. Introduction
      1m 30s
    2. What is After Effects?
      3m 12s
    3. How to use the exercise files
      58s
  2. 28m 14s
    1. After Effects workflow overview
      2m 18s
    2. Bringing elements into After Effects
      2m 23s
    3. Adding elements to the Timeline
      1m 57s
    4. Working with layers
      3m 45s
    5. Creating animation with presets
      3m 24s
    6. Applying effects
      3m 34s
    7. Creating animation without presets
      5m 38s
    8. Previewing your work
      2m 46s
    9. Exporting content as a movie file
      2m 29s
  3. 27m 20s
    1. Touring the interface
      6m 2s
    2. How After Effects projects work
      4m 47s
    3. What is a composition?
      4m 52s
    4. Tips for adding content to compositions
      2m 49s
    5. Understanding the properties of video
      8m 50s
  4. 57m 8s
    1. Importing an Illustrator file
      4m 57s
    2. Animation basics
      7m 12s
    3. Animating opacity
      6m 40s
    4. Understanding anchor points
      4m 57s
    5. Animating position
      6m 8s
    6. Animating rotation
      4m 41s
    7. Animating scale
      7m 19s
    8. Using the Puppet tool
      7m 13s
    9. Copying and pasting keyframes
      3m 4s
    10. Animation shortcuts
      4m 57s
  5. 9m 42s
    1. Understanding precomposing
      6m 51s
    2. Navigating through compositions quickly
      2m 51s
  6. 1h 12m
    1. A showcase of effects
      2m 34s
    2. Creating a layer for effects
      3m 1s
    3. Applying effects
      4m 54s
    4. Animating effect properties
      4m 29s
    5. Using Glow
      5m 34s
    6. Creating patterns and textures
      6m 57s
    7. Creating a fireball
      7m 9s
    8. Using the Cycore effects
      5m 58s
    9. Adding blur
      5m 45s
    10. Creating a galaxy scene from scratch
      8m 38s
    11. Distorting objects with effects
      4m 7s
    12. Creating and using lens flares
      4m 21s
    13. Creating lightning bolts
      4m 3s
    14. Viewing random variations with Brainstorm
      4m 39s
  7. 30m 52s
    1. Shortening the duration of layers
      4m 23s
    2. Trimming in the Footage panel
      4m 14s
    3. Slowing and accelerating video speed
      7m 9s
    4. Applying video transitions between clips
      6m 7s
    5. Working with image sequences
      4m 47s
    6. Importing footage with an alpha channel
      4m 12s
  8. 36m 11s
    1. Brightening dark footage
      9m 12s
    2. Changing colors in footage
      6m 34s
    3. Creating cinematic color treatments
      8m 17s
    4. Creating a quick vignette
      3m 42s
    5. Colorizing black-and-white objects
      4m 50s
    6. Using adjustment layers
      3m 36s
  9. 21m 9s
    1. Creating and editing text
      7m 39s
    2. Applying text animation presets
      4m 41s
    3. Animating text manually
      4m 43s
    4. Applying layer styles to text
      4m 6s
  10. 28m 58s
    1. Let's get better
      37s
    2. Using work areas
      3m 37s
    3. Creating markers
      6m 17s
    4. Replacing layers
      2m 35s
    5. Mastering Timeline navigation
      3m 18s
    6. Aligning and distributing layers
      3m 4s
    7. Selecting layers quickly
      1m 56s
    8. Cropping layers
      3m 43s
    9. Adjusting comp resolution
      3m 51s
  11. 23m 53s
    1. Using the paint tools
      9m 35s
    2. Using the Roto Brush tool
      9m 25s
    3. Animating growing vines
      4m 53s
  12. 40m 29s
    1. Creating and using masks
      6m 42s
    2. Exploring mask options
      7m 57s
    3. Creating masks with Auto-trace
      6m 51s
    4. Masking objects with other objects
      5m 33s
    5. Making shape layers
      3m 43s
    6. Modifying shape layers
      9m 43s
  13. 30m 44s
    1. Turning 2D layers into 3D layers
      9m 22s
    2. Creating lights and cameras
      6m 14s
    3. Creating shadows
      4m 23s
    4. Using depth of field
      4m 42s
    5. Working with 3D effects
      6m 3s
  14. 18m 10s
    1. Removing a green screen background
      4m 37s
    2. Refining the matte
      4m 48s
    3. Compositing with color adjustments
      4m 50s
    4. Compositing with blend modes
      3m 55s
  15. 25m 44s
    1. Understanding spatial interpolation
      2m 5s
    2. Creating and adjusting motion paths
      3m 55s
    3. Orienting moving objects along a path
      1m 29s
    4. Drawing motion with Motion Sketch
      2m 51s
    5. Creating pauses in animation
      3m 6s
    6. Understanding temporal interpolation
      1m 56s
    7. Easing keyframes
      5m 57s
    8. About the Graph Editor
      4m 25s
  16. 12m 13s
    1. Stabilizing shaky footage
      7m 46s
    2. Tracking the motion in footage
      4m 27s
  17. 24m 58s
    1. Setting up parent layers
      5m 49s
    2. Working with null objects
      2m 31s
    3. What are expressions?
      7m 17s
    4. Modifying simple expressions
      2m 20s
    5. Using the wiggle expression
      7m 1s
  18. 6m 52s
    1. Understanding audio in motion graphics
      1m 22s
    2. Previewing and mixing audio
      3m 55s
    3. Enhancing audio tracks with effects
      1m 35s
  19. 11m 36s
    1. Adding comps to the Render Queue
      2m 30s
    2. Exploring key Render Queue settings
      4m 11s
    3. How should I export my video?
      4m 55s
  20. 7m 16s
    1. Using Photoshop with After Effects
      2m 10s
    2. Using Illustrator with After Effects
      3m 2s
    3. Using Flash with After Effects
      2m 4s
  21. 11s
    1. Goodbye
      11s

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