Join Eran Stern for an in-depth discussion in this video Create long, tall shadows, part of After Effects Guru: Integrating Type into Video.
- Now, that we've decided on which typeface works best in this scene, it's time to tie it to the video. First, we are going to animate the title, so it looks like it's rising up from the ground level. And then, we'll use a light to cast long, tall shadows on the floor to make the text appear bigger as well as scary. But, most importantly, integrate it with its surrounding elements and the environment. So, let's start by animating our 3D title, so the letters will look like they are laying on the floor and then doing some kind of rotating move towards us.
I'm going to select layer number two, this is the text of the Dark Alleyway. And then, I'm going to press "r" in order to see the Orientation and the Rotation properties. I'm also going to press "s" in order to see the Scale as well. Now, first I want to change the X Orientation, so I really wanted to start from maybe somewhere over here. In this case, -94 degrees. And then, I'm going to create a Key Frame from this value, but I really want it to start maybe a second later, just in order to establish the atmosphere and let the viewer get impressed from what he's seeing.
So, maybe around 26 frames, this will be our first Key Frame. I'm just going to drag the value that we've just created. And then, I want the movement to be really slow, so let's go to around three seconds and ten frames. And then, we are going to bring it back to zero. Now, currently, it's going to be a very abrupt and linear move, so while this Key Frame is still selected, I'm going to press "f9" in order to create an easy ease motion. I also want to scale it on its Y axis, so, let's go to the first frame.
And then, I'm going to uncheck the Proportional between the X, Y, and Z for the Scale, create a Key Frame with this value. Then, go all the way to the end of this composition, and maybe raise it to around 140. Now, let's just take a look at what we've created so far. And already, it starts to feel more dark and eery as it conveys the message. Now, the main thing over here is actually to accompany this title with some very long and tall shadows.
Hence, the name of this composition and this project. In order to create shadows in After Effects, you actually need some lights. So, I'm going to go to the Layer menu and add a new Light. Let's start with a Point light and make sure that Cast Shadows is enabled. For this example, I'm not going to use the Falloff, but I will say that the Darkness of the shadow should be, maybe, 100% just to start with. Then, I'm going to click OK and place my Current Time indicator over here.
Now, we're supposed to see something on the floor, but there will be no shadow because there is no real floor. If I'm going to show you the scene from a different perspective, say Custom View 1, we can see that we have two 3D layers. One is a little bit closer to us, and one is actually the video itself. This is just an illusion of 3D because it's still a flat plane. So, in order for these letters to cast shadows, they need to interrupt with a 3D plane, which is different from the video itself.
Of course, this video will also receive shadows, but we can turn them off. So, I'm going to go to the Layer menu once again and create a new Solid. This will be our floor. Make sure it's Comp Size, and the color doesn't really matter. I'm just going to say, OK and place it just underneath our text just for the moment. And I'm also going to convert it to a 3D layer. Now, let's press "r" once again to see the the Orientation. This time, I'm just going to type in the X for the Orientation, -90%, which will create an angle of 270 degrees.
And then, I can drag it down until it will meet with the letters. Now, it's a little bit hard to see what I'm doing from this perspective, so once again I'm going to switch views to Custom View 1. This will actually show you everything from a perspective view, which is not going to affect your animation. I'm going to press "c" in order to activate the Unified Camera tool, so we can orbit around the scene. And then, I'm going to select the Floor. Press "v" in order to get to the Arrow tool.
And I'm just going to scale it to make sure that it will reach the end of the scene, something like this. Now, you may need to zoom inside, so use your right-click on the mouse in order to zoom inside just to make sure that the letters are actually touching the floor. This will be important in order for them to cast exact shadows. Now, I'm going to press "esc" in order to return to the previous frame. And you can see that we've managed to mimic the perspective of the shot quite nicely.
Now, we are not actually going to see this layer. I'm only going to use it in order for it to accept the shadows. So, I'm going to close and open it once again. And then, under the Material options for the floor, I'm going to switch its mode from Accepts Shadows On to Only, so just click once. This will actually turn it off, but it will show us the shadows for this layer. The reason that we're not seeing any shadows yet is because we need to tell the text layer, the 3D text, to cast shadows.
So, open up its properties. You can also tap a + a if you want to quickly get to the Material Options. And then, switch on the Cast Shadows, and this will create shadows. Now, currently, we are seeing shadows on both the floor and the layer underneath. So, if you don't want this layer of video to receive shadows, well, you need to turn them off for these layers. So, I'm going to press, once again, a + a or aa in sequence, and then, you can tell it not to Accept Shadows by clicking on this value twice.
So, the first time, it's going to be only on the second time. It's actually going to turn off shadows for the video. Now, we can see a hint of shadows on the floor, so I'm going to take the Light and select it, and I'm actually going to push it back in Z space. Now, it's once again, a little bit difficult to control it from this angle, so I'm going to press Escape in order to switch to the Custom View 1, which was the recent 3D viewer that I've worked with. Then, I'm going to press "c" in order to activate the Unified Camera tool, which will allow me to quickly pull down the angle of the whole scene.
So, I'm just going to zoom away, and we can see that the shadows are over here. We actually need them in the opposite place. So, I'm going to press "v" in order to get to the selection tool. And then, I'm going to go and do this number, which will take the light and push it all the way as a backlight. And now, if we're going to return to the original Active Camera view, we can actually get a sense of the result. This will also show us that the floor is not exactly touching the layer, so I'm going to select the Floor, press "p" and play with the Y Position just a touch until they will meet.
I actually, note that the Y Position is 800 scenes. I plugged this value in the previous movie. Okay, now, we can take the Light, and we can even push it further in Z space. I'm going to press "p." And then, I'm going to use Shift in order to move it on its Z axis. And of course, you can move it from here as well. So, we do see that we are getting very nice light. However, it's a little bit difficult to control the angle. So, we can't really match it to the perspective of this scene.
So, I'm suspecting that Point Light is not the best light in order to actually create what we are after. I'm going to try to use another light, so double-click on the Light and change the light type from Point to Parallel. I'm going leave everything as is, and I'm going to say, OK. Now, Parallel Light, once again if I'm going to press Escape, I'm going to show you this has a point of interest. And this point of interest will allow you to point the shadows exactly to where you want them to be.
So, returning to the Active Camera, and then I'm going to click and hold on the point of interest. You can see that it is moving in the timeline. And then, I'm going to eyeball it, more or less, to the place that I think the shadows should be, so something like this. I really want the Long Tall Shadows that will fade away eventually, but for now, we are just going to worry about the position of them. So, this is how you do it. Now, when you reach the final point, you may want to design the look and feel for them.
So, we may want to create some kind of a Falloff. So, we can double-click on the Light, make sure the Preview box is checked. And then, I'm going to go and change the Falloff from None to Smooth. This will allow you to create a Radius and a Falloff distance. So, if I'm going to take this Radius to a higher number, I can expose more of the same light. And the Falloff Distance, of course, will create the amount of Falloff, so this is where the light will stop to actually impact this shot.
So, I'm trying to eyeball it to something like this, and I may want to reduce the Darkness as well from 100 to, say, 60. And then, I've pressed Enter in order to accept these settings. So, this is how you can control which one of the layers will receive shadows, which one of the layers will cast shadows. And of course, by changing the type of the light, you can control the precise angle and the Falloff for the shadows that you have created.
I think that this plays really nicely with the street perspective that we have over here, and it helps to convey the eery message that we are after.
- Analyzing your shot and making mood, story, and type decisions
- Working with lights, shadows, and 3D animation
- Rotoscoping, distorting, and displacing text
- Creating a motion graphics teaser using parenting and shoot-out animations
- Integrating 3D text into live video
- Working with ray-traced type
- Create advanced per-character 3D text animations