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Motion Control 3D: Bringing Your Photos to Life in Three Dimensions
Illustration by John Hersey

Setting directional light


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Motion Control 3D: Bringing Your Photos to Life in Three Dimensions

with Richard Harrington

Video: Setting directional light

Now that we've set the Ambient Light levels, let's start to add some directional light to get a sense of drama. For this image we have here, you see we've got our statue in the shade with the background. Our soldiers here are just dimly lit, and we'll add some directional light with a Point Light, and we need a Spot Light here. Let's start with this image. I've added one light for the Ambient Light levels, and what I'd like to do is drop in another light, in this case we'll do a Spot Light and click OK.

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Motion Control 3D: Bringing Your Photos to Life in Three Dimensions
1h 30m Intermediate Oct 04, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Have you looked at a photo and wished you were there, or wondered what the scene looked like to the photographer? Now you can bring your photos to life by adding motion and depth to your images. Author Rich Harrington reveals how you can transport your photos into a three-dimensional world using Adobe Photoshop and After Effects. The course shows you how to select the right images and resolutions; how to use masks and layers to build the composition in Photoshop; and how to animate the camera and light the scene in After Effects.

Topics include:
  • Understanding parallax
  • Choosing the best photos
  • Identifying planes
  • Using Quick Selection, Quick Mask, and Refine Edge to create layers
  • Adding a 3D camera to your scene
  • Setting the depth and size of your composition
  • Using multiple views
  • Adding depth of field and Bokeh blur
  • Setting ambient and directional light
Subjects:
Video Motion Graphics
Software:
After Effects Photoshop
Author:
Richard Harrington

Setting directional light

Now that we've set the Ambient Light levels, let's start to add some directional light to get a sense of drama. For this image we have here, you see we've got our statue in the shade with the background. Our soldiers here are just dimly lit, and we'll add some directional light with a Point Light, and we need a Spot Light here. Let's start with this image. I've added one light for the Ambient Light levels, and what I'd like to do is drop in another light, in this case we'll do a Spot Light and click OK.

You'll notice that, that adds a virtual spot light to the scene, and if you zoom in you can clearly see it looks exactly like a real spot light. There it is. Let's twirl down and look at the controls. You could adjust the overall Intensity of the light, as well as open up the Angle of the Cone, spotting it up or down. You could adjust the Feather for a more gradual transition and reposition the light itself.

Let's set this here to zoom back a bit. That's looking pretty good. And I'm going to just reposition that light, pulling it up, and then grabbing its point of interest to aim it. There you see it moving across our subject, sort of like sunlight. If we take the Feather down, you'll definitely see the hard edge there, and it becomes really easy to aim. And then I'll Feather that out so it has a gradual transition, and it looks like a sense of sunlight.

Let's grab the light there and just adjust where it's pointing. Now, once we've pointed that light, we want to go ahead and cast some shadows. I'll see that Casts Shadows is currently Off, so I'll turn it On. And it might seem anti-climactic, because just turning on Shadows doesn't make shadows. You need to then go to the individual layers, such as the Couple, and under Material Options you need to tell it that this is going to go ahead and Accept the Lights and that it's going to go ahead and Cast Shadows.

In doing that, it creates a shadow behind our subject. Let's check the brick wall really quick, and under Material Options make sure that it's set to Accepts Shadows, which it is. So you see our shadow being cast on the wall behind our people. Let's reposition the light a bit and see if we could move that shadow. There it is. And you see the shadow casting behind them.

I'm going to adjust the Position a little bit, and there you see it on the back wall. Now, you can adjust this until you get the shadow positioned where you intended, and then you can go ahead and play with the amount of the shadow itself. I'll come down here to the Couple, there is the Shadow, and we can adjust it. Playing with the Diffusion for the front, for the surface, adjusting the Shininess, that looks pretty good.

And then for the light itself, we'll refine the shadow a little bit, and we can adjust the Diffusion so the shadow goes from really crisp to much softer. And I'll increase the Darkness so it stands out a bit. So now, there's our camera move with the cast shadow falling on the back wall, as you see there. Now, you may want to play with where that light is coming from, but you get the idea of how it creates a very photorealistic shadow.

Let's take a look at the statue here and do the same thing. I'm going to do a couple additional lights here. We're going to start and add a Parallel Light off to the side. Let's choose zoom in so we can see it, grab the Parallel Light, and we're going to move it back a little bit. There we go.

And I'm just creating a little bit of side light with that Parallel Light. You see we're getting a little bit of the interest coming in. I'll turn that off and on. And we can adjust the Intensity of that light. That's just creating some light coming from the side, and that's really starting to make that look photorealistic. Now, we'll just name that, press Return, and call that Side. Add one more Light, and let's add a Spot Light, and we'll adjust this.

Let's pull it back. There we go, nice and far. Adjust the Intensity of the light and make sure that it's casting some shadows. There we go. Take a look at our statue here, check the Material Options, and tell it to Cast Shadows as well.

Now, here's the tricky thing, where is it casting a shadow? Right now it's casting it on the trees, which we don't want. So I'm going to come down here to the Trees and make sure that Accept Shadows is off. There we go. And now you see that the shadow is only casting on the column. So if we look at that light, we can now better point it, there it is, and you see the shadow being cast on that back column.

Let's do a quick move on the camera, and you see the shadow falling on the back column being created by our statue, and that looks very believable. We can tweak the Darkness as well as the Diffusion on that, but this really makes the scene look very photorealistic.

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