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Working with Spot lights

From: After Effects Apprentice 11: 3D Space

Video: Working with Spot lights

So that's Point Light which is the easiest light. Let's go ahead and try the other common Light Type, Spot. As soon as I do so, you'll see some more parameters open up here in the Timeline panel. I'm going to hold Shift+R to hide the Rotation parameters for our light, because I far prefer controlling lights by moving their Position, and in the case of Spot Lights, the Point of Interest. But Spot Lights, in addition to the back of the light, you now also have a point that says, where is that light being aimed? And I love this degree of control.

Working with Spot lights

So that's Point Light which is the easiest light. Let's go ahead and try the other common Light Type, Spot. As soon as I do so, you'll see some more parameters open up here in the Timeline panel. I'm going to hold Shift+R to hide the Rotation parameters for our light, because I far prefer controlling lights by moving their Position, and in the case of Spot Lights, the Point of Interest. But Spot Lights, in addition to the back of the light, you now also have a point that says, where is that light being aimed? And I love this degree of control.

For example, I can place that Point of Interest right on my layer. I'll select my layer, press P to see its Position. I see that its Z Position is at 0. I tend to put my Point of Interest at the same Z Position to make sure that Point of Interest is right on that light. Then I will drag the Point of Interest to the area I want to be illuminated, say the top of this X in XII. Now, when I move the back of the light around, I know that, that area is always going to be illuminated, but I can now change the angle of how light is being cast across this layer.

And with Spot Light you can create some pretty rakish angles. I will go ahead and reduce the Cone Angle, just to tighten up this light. Play on with the Feather, either to get a hard Falloff. Now you can have a lot of fun searching around what seems like a Spot Light. Or maybe I will soften that up a little bit, like that. You notice you get a really nice Falloff as you get far away from this cone. If I lose part of my light, I can either zoom down to say 50% Magnification, drag it back in, zoom back up again, or just go ahead and scrub parameters directly in the Timeline panel.

Now, one detail about moving Spot Lights did change as of After Effects CS5. In all versions, if you just pick up the back of the light with no axis letter visible near your cursor, you're going to move just the back of the light. In After Effects CS4 or earlier, if you placed the cursor over an axis arrow to where one of those charactors such as the Z axis, is now visible, again, you would be moving just the back of the light. But as of After Effects CS5 and later, whenever an axis arrow is visible, you're going to move both the back of the light and the Point of Interest as a pair, as a group.

This can make it a little bit quicker to quickly reposition lights in the scene, but if you're used to having independent control of your front and back, there is a modifier key you can use to get the old behavior. Hover your cursor over one of the axis arrows so a letter appears, then add the Command key on Mac, Ctrl key on Windows, then when you drag, even in After Effects CS5, you will move just the back of the light. So I encourage you to spend some time playing around with the Point of Interest, and the back of a light; play around a little bit with Intensity to see how you can Overilluminate a layer, or get down to something very moody, how you can get a very broad lighting of your whole layer, or really focus the Spot Light down, either hard edged and very soft edge, and go ahead and create an animation.

Point of Interest, Position, Intensity, Cone Angle, Cone Feather, these all have stopwatches, they can all be keyframed and animated. And if you're looking for ideas and inspiration, go into our Comps_Finished folder, open up 06_Basic Lights_final and just go ahead and RAM Preview that, just to give you an idea of a little animation we set up, play around with Spot Lights and Intensity to reveal different parts of this layer.

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This video is part of

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

54 video lessons · 14192 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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