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The Light Falloff feature in After Effects CS5.5 and later

From: After Effects Apprentice 11: 3D Space

Video: The Light Falloff feature in After Effects CS5.5 and later

Next I'd like to show you a brand-new light parameter that was introduced in After Effects CS5.5. I am going to go to Composition and Close All for now to clean up my display, and to play ground with this, I'm going to open up the comp 08-Open GL*starter. We also use this comp in one of the sidebars, but let's play with it here to show you this brand-new parameter. Here I have a number of layers at different distances from my camera, and to prove that I'll go to an orthographic view, like Top, and see how these layers are spread out in space.

The Light Falloff feature in After Effects CS5.5 and later

Next I'd like to show you a brand-new light parameter that was introduced in After Effects CS5.5. I am going to go to Composition and Close All for now to clean up my display, and to play ground with this, I'm going to open up the comp 08-Open GL*starter. We also use this comp in one of the sidebars, but let's play with it here to show you this brand-new parameter. Here I have a number of layers at different distances from my camera, and to prove that I'll go to an orthographic view, like Top, and see how these layers are spread out in space.

Again, I can also look from the side, like Left, and see these different distances. Let's go back to Active Camera. I am going to add layer>New>Light to the scene. By the way, if you love keyboard shortcuts, it's basically all the modifier keys, plus L for Light. On a Mac, Option+Shift+Command, on Windows it's Alt+Shift+Ctrl. Brand-new light. Again, I am going to choose a Point Light so we don't confuse what's going on with the Cone Angle with what's going on due to Falloff. I'll start with Intensity around say 125% and a white light color.

I'm going to turn off Casts Shadows for now, just to keep things simple. But I am going to turn on Falloff. You won't see this pop-up in earlier versions of After Effects. This was introduced in After Effects CS5.5. And I am going to start off with Inverse Square Clamped. It's kind of a long technical name, but this is the way the lights work in reality. The further away you get, the light intensity falls off using an inverse square law. So I'll select that and click OK. You'll notice I have some additional Light options; the Falloff pop-up we just saw and Radius.

I am going to back up my light a little bit here so that it is illuminating these layers and start playing around with the Radius parameter. This is how large your light is. The Intensity then starts falling off, beginning at the Radius. As I decrease this, the light Intensity falls off more quickly. I can pull it down to the point where it's illuminating just the speakers and a little bit of the background layers, and if it's getting too dark, I can increase the Intensity. Or I can increase the Radius so that it also illuminates layers further away from the light, and now they're all lit fairly equally, because I'm casting a very large Radius of light.

But to create some more interesting looks, you might want to try a smaller Radius, play with Intensity to taste, and even move around the light. For example, if it's off to the side, it's going to illuminate the speaker on the right more than the speaker on the left, just because it is closer to the light. Again, to help picture this let's go to 2 Views>Horizontal. I'll switch my Right View to a custom view, and now you can see Position of my light relative to the layers controls how the layers that are further away are illuminated.

Kind of a nice look. This is the way lights work in the real world and with judicious use you can create more interesting scenes in After Effects. In addition to Inverse Square Clamped, which is how lights really work, After Effects gives you another option called Smooth, which is kind of like the cheater's light. By setting this to Smooth, I now have two parameters. As before, the Radius defines where is the light at full Intensity. Any area inside the Radius will remain full brightness, full Intensity.

Then the Falloff Distance is how far beyond the Radius does the light falloff. If I was to take Falloff Distance down to 0, we will see just a hard circle of light. Just areas inside this Radius from the light will be illuminated. As I increase the Radius, you will see I'll start to reveal the layers behind. And I'll scrub it back down again. Something a little tighter like that. Then as I increase the Falloff Distance, I basically am setting the equivalent of a Feather for that light.

Now, it's almost like a Light Cone, but now it's distance-based rather than angle-based, or I can keep broadening it out to create a nice softer Falloff and a bit more of a vignettinging feel in my scene. By the way, these are really cool parameters to animate to go ahead and do a reveal of your scene. For example, start with the speakers. Then increase the Radius and reveal more layers inside your scene. Once you get this set up, you can start combining it with other things such as shadows. It takes a while to calculate, but now we have some nice complex shadow interplay between these different layers.

Again, this was a brand-new feature added in just After Effects CS5.5. You won't have it in earlier versions. And if you're new to 3D space, I'd start off by setting this to None and making sure you have normal things like shadows and other light parameters mastered before you take your lighting to the next level, then start playing with Falloff.

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Image for After Effects Apprentice 11: 3D Space
After Effects Apprentice 11: 3D Space

54 video lessons · 14117 viewers

Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer
Author

 
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  1. 4m 47s
    1. Welcome
      2m 47s
    2. Using the exercise files
      2m 0s
  2. 15m 12s
    1. Comparing 2D and 3D
      5m 30s
    2. Rotation in 3D
      4m 47s
    3. Keyframing in 3D
      4m 55s
  3. 15m 9s
    1. Multi-planing workaround in 2D
      3m 21s
    2. Using 3D views
      6m 45s
    3. Natural multi-planing in 3D
      5m 3s
  4. 13m 9s
    1. Keyframing a fly-in
      5m 24s
    2. Editing 3D motion paths
      5m 43s
    3. Auto-orienting a layer along its path
      2m 2s
  5. 1h 4m
    1. Adding a camera to a composition
      9m 0s
    2. Comparing camera presets
      2m 48s
    3. Using the camera tools with the active camera
      4m 48s
    4. Using the camera tools in the alternate views
      4m 50s
    5. 3D view options
      1m 58s
    6. Animating a 3D camera
      6m 20s
    7. Creating an orbit camera rig
      5m 42s
    8. Extending your camera rig
      4m 31s
    9. Auto-orientation with 3D cameras
      7m 33s
    10. Depth of field blur in CS5.5 and later
      5m 47s
    11. Controlling the focal plane in CS5.5 and later
      5m 12s
    12. Iris properties in CS5.5 and later
      6m 16s
  6. 29m 15s
    1. Creating a 3D light
      6m 35s
    2. Working with Point lights
      3m 20s
    3. Working with Spot lights
      3m 48s
    4. Creating shadows
      10m 13s
    5. The Light Falloff feature in After Effects CS5.5 and later
      5m 19s
  7. 48m 6s
    1. Enabling ray-traced 3D in CS6
      3m 26s
    2. Extrusions in CS6
      3m 39s
    3. Bevels in CS6
      5m 39s
    4. Bending layers in CS6
      5m 35s
    5. Transparency in CS6
      4m 20s
    6. Refraction in CS6
      4m 6s
    7. Targeting Surfaces in CS6
      3m 23s
    8. Reflections in CS6
      7m 35s
    9. Environment layers in CS6
      5m 40s
    10. Quality vs. speed in CS6
      4m 43s
  8. 11m 33s
    1. Quizzler challenge for CS6
      1m 42s
    2. Quizzler solution for CS6
      9m 51s
  9. 41m 6s
    1. Vanishing Point Exchange in Photoshop Extended
      9m 18s
    2. Vanishing Point Exchange in After Effects
      4m 38s
    3. Importing a 3D model into Photoshop Extended in CS5.5 and earlier
      9m 7s
    4. Creating 3D objects using Repoussé in CS5.5 and earlier
      9m 46s
    5. Live Photoshop 3D inside After Effects in CS5.5 and earlier
      8m 17s
  10. 20m 58s
    1. Introduction to dimensional stills
      3m 41s
    2. Cutting up the source image
      2m 25s
    3. Repairing the layers in Photoshop
      8m 26s
    4. Animating the resulting layers in After Effects
      6m 26s
  11. 25m 27s
    1. Rotation vs. orientation
      3m 15s
    2. Understanding the axis modes
      4m 4s
    3. Scaling issues in 3D
      4m 57s
    4. OpenGL acceleration in CS5 and earlier
      6m 23s
    5. Fast previews in CS6 and later
      6m 48s

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