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In addition to all the other standard controls, the spot light is a little special in that has a long history of use since stage and video productions. It creates light from a point source, but casts it out into a cone. It also can produce several kinds of shadows as well. The most important thing about the Spot Lamp, it has a cone and the shape of this cone is shown on the material that we're casting on here. Now we have a narrow spot, which is shown here at 45 degrees, or we can make this spot a very wide spot, by changing that to 90 degrees and now the lamp casts light out over a 90 degree cone.
The effect of that is casting out the same amount of light over a much wider surface and diffusing the shadow a bit. We can also control the lens that is in front of a real physical spot lamp, but this is a virtual lamp. So we have an additional control to where if I set this back to 45, if I set my spot boundary to let's say a very narrow number, now I get a very hard edge where the lamp stops. Now in a very smoky nightclub, we have what's called a halo effect that comes out, which is whereas the lamp casts out its light.
I'll go ahead and set this up to a pretty large number so that you can see it, and enable it. Now you can see in our Preview that we have a halo coming out. That simulates the light coming down through a smoky atmosphere, a dusty atmosphere. In addition to Ray Shadows, which provides a very accurate shadow model, as you can see here with the very crisp outline, we can used buffered shadows and have our choice of a classic or a halfway classic or irregular computation method for figuring out, very quickly and faster where the shadows should fall.
As you can see the irregular gives a pretty good shadow outline without invoking all of the overhead expense of a ray shadow trace. In addition, the spot light has a clip start and a clip end. In that objects that are closer than the clip start will not be lit by the lamp. So if I change this to something really big like ten or so, you can see in the 3D View, this little ray. That shows that any objects within this distance and this distance will be lit by the light, but if the light gets closer than that to an object, the light won't be picked up or won't be cast on to the object.
Here let me turn the Halo off a little bit so that you can see it better. So changing it to 20, now as you can see in 3D View, this little ray has little dots that show the beginning and the end and any objects within this range will have a shadow cast. Since our Captain Knowledge is not within that range, he'll be lit by the lamp, but he won't cast a shadow. As you can tell, when you have a lot of lamps shadow casting can be a very computationally intensive process and take a lot of processing time.
So we try to give you a lot of easy ways to speed up the whole shadow computation process to avoid ray shadows and use buffered shadows instead. In addition to a normal round spot lamp, there is attachments you can put on a real spot lamp on the side that are called barn doors and they square off the light. So now when we do a render with the barn doors on, you can see that instead of having a round outline, we have a square outline where the light is cut off by these barn doors.
So this shows you how to use the spot lamp as a specialty lamp in setting up your lighting situation. I find that the spot lamp makes a great key lamp for the camera, so I usually parent my spot lamp to the camera and use it as the lamp that provides the major illumination for the scene.
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