Motion 4 Essential Training
Illustration by Richard Downs

Creating depth with lights and shadows


Motion 4 Essential Training

with Ian Robinson

Video: Creating depth with lights and shadows

When adding lights to a scene, there are two major factors, the light properties and how the objects will react to that light. Let's get started by opening the Project pane. Press F5 on your keyboard and you'll notice we have a Camera and a Text Group that contains a bunch of layers of text and a Floor object. Now as you can see, without lights, this really doesn't have very much life. So let's get started by adding a light. Go up to the Object pulldown menu at the top of your screen and choose New Light and you notice the light automatically got added and then the screen went completely black.
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  1. 6m 51s
    1. Welcome
      1m 0s
    2. Important definitions
      3m 5s
    3. What's new in Motion 4
      1m 51s
    4. Using the exercise files
  2. 45m 36s
    1. Launching Motion for the first time
      2m 19s
    2. Understanding the Motion interface
      4m 43s
    3. Understanding the Utility window
      5m 50s
    4. Understanding the toolbar
      1m 56s
    5. Navigating the Canvas
      4m 37s
    6. Working with layers and layer groups
      4m 52s
    7. Using the Project pane
      2m 42s
    8. Transforming objects
      3m 41s
    9. Controlling the Timeline
      4m 27s
    10. Using the HUD
      1m 27s
    11. Essential preferences
      2m 37s
    12. Customizing the keyboard
      4m 14s
    13. Getting smooth playback with RAM preview
      2m 11s
  3. 28m 51s
    1. Adding assets to Motion
      3m 12s
    2. Adding QuickTime movies to Motion
      3m 30s
    3. Adding still images to Motion
      3m 23s
    4. Adding image sequences
      3m 23s
    5. Adding layered Photoshop files
      2m 39s
    6. Adding Illustrator files
      2m 12s
    7. Using the Library
      3m 14s
    8. Understanding and using blend modes
      5m 39s
    9. Adding text
      1m 39s
  4. 13m 18s
    1. Creating and adjusting shapes
      7m 40s
    2. Creating simple masks
      2m 36s
    3. Creating masks with objects
      3m 2s
  5. 42m 23s
    1. Adding and adjusting behaviors
      5m 50s
    2. Adding parameter behaviors
      4m 2s
    3. Applying behaviors to layers and groups
      5m 15s
    4. Adding multiple behaviors
      7m 39s
    5. Exploring the power of the Link behavior
      5m 2s
    6. Trimming and sliding behaviors
      5m 18s
    7. Saving custom behaviors to animate stills
      4m 23s
    8. Using shape behaviors
      4m 54s
  6. 25m 3s
    1. Adding keyframes manually
      6m 10s
    2. Using the Record button
      6m 38s
    3. Manipulating keyframes with the Keyframe Editor
      6m 59s
    4. Combining keyframes and behaviors
      3m 33s
    5. Working with recording options
      1m 43s
  7. 26m 37s
    1. Adding and formatting text
      5m 35s
    2. Using text styles
      4m 32s
    3. Formatting text with the Adjust Glyph tool
      4m 8s
    4. Animating text with the Adjust Glyph tool
      4m 23s
    5. Creating text on a path
      3m 35s
    6. Using text behaviors
      4m 24s
  8. 22m 4s
    1. Stabilizing shaky footage
      4m 7s
    2. Match moving: Transform
      3m 56s
    3. Match moving: Four-corner pin
      4m 44s
    4. Retiming video in the Inspector
      5m 49s
    5. Using retiming behaviors
      3m 28s
  9. 11m 41s
    1. Applying and adjusting filters
      2m 46s
    2. Applying multiple filters
      8m 55s
  10. 8m 13s
    1. Pulling a luma key
      2m 42s
    2. Pulling a chroma key with Primatte RT
      5m 31s
  11. 11m 28s
    1. Applying and adjusting generators
      3m 25s
    2. Using the text generator
      4m 15s
    3. Generating a background
      3m 48s
  12. 19m 8s
    1. Creating basic particle systems
      10m 58s
    2. Using particle presets
      1m 51s
    3. Creating an advanced particle system
      6m 19s
  13. 13m 24s
    1. Replicating objects
      4m 52s
    2. Animating a replicator
      4m 53s
    3. Replicating a video file
      3m 39s
  14. 49m 46s
    1. Working in 3D space
      5m 11s
    2. Working with cameras
      8m 6s
    3. Viewing a 3D scene in different layouts
      2m 56s
    4. Creating depth with lights and shadows
      8m 22s
    5. Simulating depth of field
      3m 54s
    6. Using camera behaviors
      4m 7s
    7. Animating cameras with camera framing
      6m 8s
    8. Create interest with the Focus behavior
      1m 52s
    9. Using reflections and highlights
      5m 13s
    10. Creating particles in 3D
      3m 57s
  15. 20m 31s
    1. Using the Paint tool
      6m 1s
    2. Using advanced paint tools
      8m 9s
    3. Applying paint presets
      1m 51s
    4. Sequencing paint with the Stroke behavior
      4m 30s
  16. 9m 3s
    1. Adding and adjusting audio
      4m 37s
    2. Animating to music with the Audio Parameter behavior
      4m 26s
  17. 11m 52s
    1. Sharing files
      3m 36s
    2. Exporting files
      3m 15s
    3. Creating an export preset
      3m 0s
    4. Archiving your project
      2m 1s
  18. 15m 30s
    1. Round-tripping between Final Cut Pro and Motion
      4m 24s
    2. Sending your project to Compressor
      1m 59s
    3. Creating drop zones
      3m 0s
    4. Creating templates for Motion and Final Cut
      5m 2s
    5. Importing Motion projects into DVD Studio Pro
      1m 5s
  19. 22s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course Motion 4 Essential Training
6h 21m Beginner Sep 11, 2009

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In Motion 4 Essential Training, Ian Robinson shows how to start building outstanding motion graphics and animations for video production. He demonstrates how to build custom text animations with the new Adjust Glyph tool and explores Motion’s amazing real-time 3D tools. Ian highlights working in the 3D space, creating depth with lights and shadows, and using reflections to add realism. He gives practical advice on how to integrate Motion into a professional video workflow, round-tripping with Final Cut Pro and sending a final project to Compressor. Exercise files accompany this course.

Topics include:
  • Understanding the toolbar and setting the essential preferences to get started
  • Adding .mov files, still images, and Photoshop and Illustrator assets to a project
  • Animating with behaviors and keyframes
  • Creating 3D animations with lighting accents, shadows, and reflections
  • Creating simple and complex particle systems
  • Creating real viewer interest with Focus Behavior and the 3D Camera Framing behavior
Ian Robinson

Creating depth with lights and shadows

When adding lights to a scene, there are two major factors, the light properties and how the objects will react to that light. Let's get started by opening the Project pane. Press F5 on your keyboard and you'll notice we have a Camera and a Text Group that contains a bunch of layers of text and a Floor object. Now as you can see, without lights, this really doesn't have very much life. So let's get started by adding a light. Go up to the Object pulldown menu at the top of your screen and choose New Light and you notice the light automatically got added and then the screen went completely black.

This is because there is no auto- lighting feature built into Motion. So whenever you add a light, you need to make sure that you light the entire scene. Since we're talking about that, let's open the HUD so I can show you all of the different types of lights in Motion. So you notice, by default, when you create a new light, creates what's called a Point light, which functions pretty much just like the icon, a light bulb without a lampshade on it. So if you click on the control handles and move it up in Y and back in Z, you notice we've lit the scene a little bit.

But as I click-and-drag around, look in the Perspective view in the lower right corner, you'll see this is a very kind of lonesome solemn scene, because this is just one tiny little light. Now in order to help the scene, a lot of times I'll add another light called an ambient light. If we crank the intensity up on the ambient light, you notice this lights the entire scene. There is no falloff or anything. It's literally just controlling the brightness of all the objects in the scene. It is nice that you can tint this light by changing the color.

Ctrl-click in the Color tab and let's make this light a little bit warmer. We'll make it sort of a light yellow. Now that we have our ambient light, let's turn the Intensity down, way down to about 37% and add one more light. Go up to Objects, and say New Light. Notice the second light is a Point light and now we're actually starting to get some pretty interesting looks to our scene. If you drag the light up and back in the scene, you'll notice, like I said, it's creating a rather interesting look.

But if you pay close attention, there's one problem. There are no shadows and there are only two types of lights that actually generate shadows. It just so happens that the Point light is one of them. So if you check the Shadows checkbox, voila! Here are your shadows. Now, if you've ever had an object, not create shadows, you probably want to go into the Inspector. So you can either press the little I button in the upper right corner of the HUD or just click on the Inspector tab. Well, let's select an object, for example this word Pivots.

If you look in the Properties tab, you'll notice there are two options, one called Blending, which is the Normal blend mode. But you'll notice there are reflections in there, which we'll get to in a later video. Then Lighting, which you'll notice, by default, its set to an Inherited, which means it will inherit the properties of the overarching group. Let's focus on Shadows. So with these two boxes checked, this object will cast shadows and receive shadows. So let's see what Space looks like. It looks like it's casting a shadow and you'll notice it is.

And if we click on XYZ, XYZ is casting shadows and receiving shadows. If we look lastly at the Floor, you'll notice its casting shadows and receiving shadows. So you might be asking yourself, why would I want to turn on Shadows only? Well, select the word Space and check the Shadows Only box and you'll notice it's created this very interesting effect. This way you can actually silhouette shadows on other objects. It also comes in handy when you're trying to create a complex composite.

When you're layering multiple things on top of each other, sometimes it make sense to have individual control of the object as a shadow only, so you can make changes just to that one specific parameter. Let's go ahead and turn that off. Let's go back up to Light 1 and continue checking out the different types of light. Click on the popup menu and let's choose Spot light. So the Spot light functions just like it would on Broadway. You can adjust the Intensity, which is the overall brightness of the light.

You can also adjust the Falloff Start and the Falloff. The Falloff Start determines when the light intensity will start to dissipate. So a high Falloff Start means that the light will go a long way before its brightness begins to fade. Whereas the Falloff itself is just how quickly that light will disappear once it's reached the edge of the Falloff Start. So it kind of softens the edge of the light at that point. Now let's look at the Cone Angle. This obviously makes a really tight Spot light or a nice wide one.

You can also feather that edge a little bit with the Soft Edge slider. Now this is interesting, under the Shadows checkmark, there is a slider for Softness. If you click-and-drag that, it's very hard to see, but this is actually adjusting the softness of the shadows. So I drag this all the way to the right. It's really made the shadows soft or as I drag it to the left, they are kind of harsh. Now you can take the shadows to the next level, but I'll get to that in a quick second. For now, click on the popup menu and let's look at the Directional light. Now the Directional light is just like the Ambient light in the fact that it really doesn't matter where you position it in your canvas, because all its doing is just throwing light that has absolutely no end.

It's just throwing it at a specific direction, and yes, you can change the intensity, but literally, it's as if this were a laser beam. It just shoots the light out at whatever intensity you have in whatever direction. Now, when I said it doesn't matter where it's positioned, let's rotate around here and move the light behind XYZ space. You'll notice it's still functioning as though that light is there. Let's crank up the intensity so you can see a better example. So you notice now the light is completely behind that text, but it's still receiving light from that light.

Let's change that back to a Spot light and move the Spot light back into the scene. Now let's give this a little bit more flavor by moving the Spot light up and crank it down the Intensity just a little bit. Let's rotate around the scene and frame up our title a little bit better. Sometimes it helps if you select the object that you'd like to frame just as you rotate around in the scene. So remember when I said you could take shadows to the next level? Well, let's look at the Spot light options in the Inspector.

Under the Shadows discloser triangle, you'll notice there is an option for the Softness and the Opacity of the shadow, but there is this checkbox called Uniform Softness. If we deselect that checkbox, you'll notice the shadows are nice and sharp here and then they get blurrier the further they move away from the object. This is really amazing, but I honestly recommend that you only deselect this when you're ready for your final output. But really as you continue using more 3D options like reflections and un-uniform softness, you'll want to pay special attention to the Render pulldown menu.

You can turn all these options off while you're going around and getting your camera moves down and positioning your objects and just finalizing the animation as a whole. I typically have these all off and at the end, I'll turn on my Lighting, Shadows, and Reflections and if I'm using it, Depth of Field. So as you go on and light your scenes, let me offer one last bit of advice, try and light your scenes with two lights or less. Now I know common 3D techniques are all about the three-point light setup, but if time isn't the essence, the less lights, the faster the render.

So if your computer slows down to a crawl when you're trying to preview your animations, try turning off the lights until you're ready for final output.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Motion 4 Essential Training .

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Q: In Motion 4, is it possible to create an intro with multiple pictures, where some pictures enter from the left side and some from the right side of the frame, with all fading as they approach the center of the canvas?
A: The effect described is a very specific move utilizing 3D space.  One effective method is to work in true 3D space, instead of trying to use a behavior, by keyframing the animation. Try these steps:
  1. Place a camera in the scene and switch the scene to 3D. 
  2. Rotate the first image to an angle that achieves the desired effect, and slide it on the X axis until it is out of the scene on the right of the stage. 
  3. Turn on Auto Keyframing and make sure a keyframe is recorded for the rotation and position. 
  4. Move the playhead down the Timeline and move the picture to it's ending point and adjust the rotation a little for the end. 
  5. To get the image to disappear, adjust the camera's far plane of view, making sure to soften it so it has a smooth transition into oblivion. 
    Then simply duplicate the picture and change the rotation and position keyframes to the exact opposite values for rotation and position. 
Q: When attempting to change views as the instructor demonstrates in the “Viewing a 3D scene in different layouts” video, I only see the text in the Perspective view. When the instructor uses the Top and Bottom screen split, and uses the Top view, my screen does not show the four horizontal lines that represent the four words used in the tutorial.
Are there settings that need to be changes in order to view all the objects as demonstrated in the tutorial?
A: It’s possible that when viewing the project from different?angles, the letters may be sliding way out of the view area.
Here’s how to fix it: Whenever you can't see your objects in the?scene, select at least one of them in the Layers panel and then press?F or Command+F to frame the selected objects in the scene.
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