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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.
There are four different kinds of lights you can create within Motion, and they each have their own set of options to help you recreate something that looks more like the real world. The thing to understand with lights, adding them to the scene is only the first part of the process. Usually you want to select all the other objects in the scene and determine how the light is going to bounce off of that object, so you can make things look shiny instead of dull or have shadows instead of no shadows. So let's look at these lights and see some of the different options we can adjust.
The first light that I have set up here is a Point Light, and a Point Light, the easiest way I like to think of it, think of it as something like an empty light bulb in a scene. If you had a lamp and you took the lampshade off, the light would come out in 360 degrees. Well, that's how a Point Light functions. If you press F7 to open up the HUD, you'll notice we have an option for the Color, the Intensity, the Falloff Start and the Falloff. These are pretty common sets of options for all of the lights.
So once I teach this to you once, I'm not going to jump back over again with the other lights. First thing with color, again you try and simulate the real world, so if we change this white light to a kind of blue light, now all of a sudden we can make it look sort of like dusk in the winter time. Intensity just controls the brightness of the light, and the Falloff Start determines how far the light can travel before it starts to decay, so the larger the number the brighter you'll notice the scene.
Now the Falloff is actually how fast that transition actually happens once the Falloff Start occurs. So notice as I adjust the Falloff Start here, as my Falloff is at 100%, it's a very sharp contrast from bright to nothing. This next option is for Shadows. If I turn that on, notice as I move this light around now, these letters are casting shadows. Softness just controls the softness of those shadows.
Now there are some other options. If you press I to open up the Inspector, notice that under Shadows, when I open that up here, there is a setting for uniform softness. Let me magnify this image, just Command+Plus until we're up to 100%. Notice how the shadow almost looks like it's darker up at the top. With Uniform Softness on, what it does, it just blurs the shadow the same all the way across everything, and you want to leave this selected while you're building your animation, so your system doesn't start to lag. But just before you go to output your project, you probably want to deselect Uniform Softness and this will actually create a much more realistic blur to your shadow.
Also, I can adjust the opacity of the shadow, so it doesn't necessarily have to be so dark. And yes, of course, I can adjust how soft the shadow is as a whole and again with Uniform Softness deselected, it will feather that out over the length of the shadow. So let's re-enable Uniform Softness and look at our next light in the scene. I want to disable the point light, and notice the scene just pops up to 100% brightness everywhere. Whenever you add a light--you go up under Object and choose New Light-- whenever one is added to the scene, everything else just kind of changes.
So that Ambient light here, which is the next light we're going to look at, if we look at that right here, you notice the only option is for the Color and the Intensity. Notice there isn't even a light to physically grab in the canvas. That's because this is just controlling all the light in the entire scene all the way around. So if you crank up the Intensity or bring it down, you notice everything is adjusting all at once. These circle shapes have gradients on them, so as I adjust the Intensity, it does look like the shape of the objects are changing. But if I just click on one of these in orbit around here, you'll see these are flattering than a pancake.
Okay, there's no real depth to those objects. I just like using the gradient shading, so it does appear more like a 3D object. Now Ambient light, you typically want to use this to add light throughout the scene after you've added something like a Point Light. See with the Point Light, I've tinted the scene blue, and then the Ambient light, it is just making sure that the rest of the scene has some kind of light going on, just to kind of brighten things up a little bit. So yes, as you have multiple lights, you can mix them together to create different feels.
So for example, the Point Light is blue and if we change the Ambient Light to yellow, now notice--that's kind of a heavily saturated yellow, there we go. If I bring that back over here, you notice now over here the light has turned green. That's because yellow and blue mixed together and make green. So as you mix different colors of lights, you can create all different kinds of looks to your scenes. Now let's disable both of those previous lights and look at the Spotlight.
Spotlight is kind of an interesting. Let me just zoom out the magnification here. Spotlight looks literally just like a light you would have at a theater show. You can adjust, yes, the Color and the Intensity like everything else, the Falloff Start in the Falloff, yes, but the cone angle and the softness of the edge of the angle are really aware the power of the spotlight lies. See, if I bring the Cone Angle down, here I can just illuminate one specific area and if you wide in the Cone Angle, obviously you'll brighten everything else.
The Cone Angle can go from 0 to 90. Let's bring that back down to something a little more manageable, around 20, and if you soften the edge, that's just going to soften the transition. So if you want kind of a sunlight feel, I would use a spotlight, have a really soft edge on it, and then just adjust the color with a slight yellowy orangey tint, depending upon the time of day that you want to create. Notice there are no shadows here. You need to enable Shadows just by clicking this box here and then if you go under Show, notice we have the same options for Shadows here. I can adjust the Shadow Opacity as well as it's Softness just like with the Point Light, so Spot Lights and Point Lights have shadow capabilities.
Now with a light like this that's so yellow, you might want actually tint the shadow, so let's up the Saturation here and tint the shadow in kind of a burnt orange color. Now if we bring the Opacity up here, you can really kind of see that color that that's coming through. Now if we disable the Spotlight, the last light you want to check out is this light here, the Directional Light. If I rotate this light around so you can see it from the profile, notice it's just in open ended cylinder. Okay, it's kind of hard to see.
Let me rotate around here a little bit more. There we go. There you can see the open-ended points. All it's doing is casting light in a direction at 100% intensity forever. So it makes no difference if I pull this light way back away from the objects or even behind the objects, it doesn't matter; this light just shoots light in a direction and that's that. As I mentioned earlier, there are setting options for all of the different objects in the scene.
So once you actually start adding lights and blending them together, you can definitely create some different looks and some more natural feels. But to really start to pop things, you need to start getting into the settings for each of the objects in the scene and how they interpret lights. We will definitely jump into that in our next video.
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