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Learn how to create stunning motion graphics and animations for video production. Author Ian Robinson explains how to format and animate type with the Transform Glyph tool and explores Motion's real-time 3D tools. The course also covers working in 3D space, creating depth with lights and shadows, keying green screen effects, and working with particle systems. In addition, Ian offers practical advice on integrating Motion into a professional video workflow and explains how to work smarter using rigs and templates.
If you've ever shot video or still photography yourself in a studio environment, you understand how important lighting actually is. But also, you understand that some of the process can be rather tedious and a little frustrating, especially when you want something to be lit, but let's say you don't want a huge shadow cast off that object. The beauty of doing lighting with a software package like Motion is the fact that you can actually do things that you can't do in the "real world." So for example, I could illuminate this type but have it not cast a shadow, or I can have it cast a shadow on the floor but not on another object that might be right behind the text.
See, anytime you add a light to a scene, there are lighting options, lighting parameters you can adjust, but then there are also lighting object options that are available for each object in the scene, in terms of how they will accept that light. So to see exactly what I'm talking about, let's open up our Floor group here in the Layers panel and just select this generator, the Color Solid 1 Copy. This is the Floor layer. So if we open the Inspector, with the floor selected, go to the Properties tab, and down here notice there are Transform properties, Blending properties, which I'm sure we've seen before, but there's also Lighting properties, Lighting and Shadows, and there's a separate section for Reflections.
In the Blending area there is an option where you can cast reflections. So if this were close to another object, the other objects, if it had Reflections enabled, would be able to see it. But let's look at the Shadows section. Notice the floor can cast shadows, which is kind of redundant. We don't need it to do that because it's going be the Floor, so we might as well turn that off. It's one less thing Motion has to process. Receive Shadows, I could disable that, and now all of a sudden you notice there are no shadows on the floor.
There's no shadow behind the circle. There's no shadow behind the Type. You get the idea. I could also just say Shadows Only. It's kind of cool. I am seeing the red for the shadows, but you get the idea. You can set up Shadows Only or have it set up to receive shadows. So let's leave Receive Shadows selected and look at the Reflection options. Notice there are no Reflection options for the Floor. Well, what if I wanted these circles to be reflected in the floor, or better yet, the type? Well, sure, enable Reflection.
Now when I click on that, you can see a very clear reflection of what's going on in the scene. We have some more controls that could make this a little more polished. First thing, the amount of Reflectivity adjusts how bright the reflection is going to be, basically. Let's crank that back up to around 80 and look at the Blur Amount. If we drag that to the right, that's going to blur the reflection, so this is a great way if you want something to look like a dull blurry metal, you can have something set up like this.
My favorite option here is actually the Falloff. So I am going to bring the Blur back down and enable Falloff. Now, with Falloff enabled, what we can do is adjust both the Beginning and End Distance. So if I drag the End Distance back to the left, notice the spheres are starting to fade, and if I drag further, notice I'm starting to get a fade on the type itself. If we orbit around the scene, here you'll notice that the spheres, these uppers spheres, are significantly farther from the floor than the type layer.
So that's why those spheres are starting to disappear before we actually start to see a fade in the type. So let's just crank the End Distance back up here a little bit, and we can adjust the Exponent, which, this is just the softness of the transition between a reflection and no reflection. In some instances you may want to actually blend how the reflection blends with the object itself. So for example, if I said Add, it's going to add the reflections into the floor.
Now check this out. This really kind of gives a neat illuminated effect to the floor as though these spheres are casting color into the Floor. This is kind of a neat way to achieve that effect, adjusting the blend mode. Now, I am going to set that back to Normal. And there is one more thing we need to look at in terms of objects properties for lighting, and that's actually lighting itself. See, in the Properties section of the Inspector, the top option here is Lighting.
So if we enable that for the floor, look at what happens. It doesn't appear as though hardly anything happened. Well, if you crank up the Shininess, you should notice a difference when let's say a light is relatively close to the floor. So if I bring this light down here to the floor, let me go ahead and move that back in the scene so you kind of see what's going on here and move that a little closer. Now, we've got things a little closer in the scene. Now if we go back to our Floor options here, look what happens as I adjust the Shininess.
It's going to allow me to make changes to the floor itself. So if the Shininess is set to 0, I get this kind of funky matte blown-out look. And as I increase the Shininess, things get more and more glossy. And the materials, all in all, will start to appear a little more shiny, if you will. This is a great way to help make things look a little more plastic ,if you're applying polish to your image. To make things a little more complicated, there are Lighting options for each layer in your Layers panel. But if you go up to the Group, there are Group Lighting options as well.
So notice within the group I still have an option to cast reflections, I have an option for the shading itself for the lighting, for shininess, and that kind of thing, and then I have an option for reflections. So you can set options that override the individual objects-- here, let me enable reflecting here-- but notice when you make those adjustments, it's just kind of mixing things together. If I crank up the Reflection here and then go back down and adjust my Shininess down here, I'm still getting a combined result between the two.
Just when you add the group aspect into it, Motion has to look at everything and determine exactly how to process the image. So sometimes within a group you may need to go over and decide whether something is going to be 2D or 3D. See what happens when I change this to 2D. Now the entire group is gone. Even though I may have some Reflection options for this layer here, you are not going to see anything because it's no longer a 3D layer.
So as you go through and make changes, you may notice that different things will look slightly different as you apply the different Lighting options to groups as opposed to objects. So as you are first getting started what I recommend is making your adjustments to the lighting within individual layers as opposed to the group as a whole. Another thing that does, when you add different options to a group, sometimes you'll see things like this, which is this R. See, what the R is telling me, this image is now rasterized, meaning it is no longer something that I can just go ahead and scale randomly.
It has to do that in order to process this reflection in addition to the other reflection that I applied down here to the layer contained within the group. So another thing I can recommend as you're moving around with different groups, if you want to enable reflection for a whole bunch of objects, just have Reflections turned off for each individual layer and then enable it for the group as a whole, but don't sit there and try and blend things back and forth between individual layers and individual groups.
I know this may seem a little bit confusing, because each individual object has its own set of options for lighting and blending, shadows, and reflections, but you have to trust me when I tell you this will give you the best amount of control when it comes to actually getting the composite image to look exactly the way you want. Because again, I can determine exactly how each object looks, whether it accept lights, whether it transmits shadows, whether it receives shadows, or even if it casts reflections.
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