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Adding lights into your scene is fun, I know, but I really seem to get the biggest kick out of mixing my material settings with my light settings. Adjusting everything to the right mix kind of makes me feel a little bit more like a motion graphic scientist. Now, here we have our scene that appears to be in desperate need of some mixing. As you can tell, we've got a floor layer, our type layer, and some particles in the background. Now, if we go ahead and press play, you'll see we do have some highlights moving throughout the letters as well as the particle system, but all in all, the scene is kind of flat.
So let's get started by analyzing our project. So as you can see, I have one group layer named Title with absolutely everything in it. One thing I would like to do to keep things straight is actually have multiple groups segmented so I can keep track of what's in each group. So select the Title group and just click the Plus button twice. Now, we'll grab Spark11 and the Weightless Spark, and just drag those right up into the first group, and let's rename that Particle System, and we can do the same thing for our floor.
Go ahead and drag the rectangle up into the top group here and rename that Floor. Now one thing I'd like to do with objects just in general, even though it's a three-dimensional scene, I like to keep the same layer hierarchy as I can see things visually, meaning the floor is not on top of everything else, so I will put the floor below everything else in my Layers tab. Okay. Now, when you select a group, if you go to the Properties under the Inspector, you'll notice that it has its own set of material options.
So I can set reflection on the group or just within one object. Now obviously, since I have one object here, it doesn't really matter. But just in case I wanted to add something else in, I am just going to adjust the material settings only for this Rectangle layer. So let's enable Reflection, and after you turn that on, look at our scene. You can see that the words are reflecting and the particles. Now, in order to give it a little bit more realistic view, I'll go ahead and adjust the falloff. If we change our End Distance down here--keep dragging it until you can barely see the words-- that'll give you a slightly more realistic view.
Now, we have a couple more material settings that we need to look at. If we select our SPACE text layer, again in Properties under Materials, let's just go ahead and enable Highlights. Now, if we drag the Shininess all the way to left, it's going to make this really, really shiny, and that light gets carried all the way throughout all the words. I want to kind of increase the contrast here, so I am going to drag the Shininess back over to the right just a little bit, and I'll do the same thing over here with my highlight layer. So let's select the highlight layers, and under Highlights, let's enable it.
But with this one, what we have are the highlights are really bright and then the dark areas are a really dark. So what we want to do is actually drag the Shininess back to the left on this one. That way when the light bounces off of it, it's not necessarily concerned as much about darker areas as it is about the higher areas in the highlights. Okay, so now that we have that set up, let's go ahead and make sure that we have something else applied to the text layer to help it sort of bling a little bit, and we are literally going to add what I call the Bling filter.
If you go up under Add Filter, if you go to Glow, it's actually called Dazzle, but I kind of like to call that Bling. So here we go. The first time you add it, don't panic. It looks like everything has gone awry. But if you go ahead and enable Crop for the filter, it'll automatically work itself out. Doesn't that look pretty? Well, I know, not quite yet, but with the Dazzle filter selected, let's bring the Amount down, and that'll change the overall height of the glow. But if we bring the Brightness down, that's going to help bring it under control quite a bit. So let's bring the Brightness down. There we go.
Now, Brightness definitely adjusts the overall brightness of what's happening in the scene, but if you adjust the Threshold down to the left, notice it's actually going to bring those highlights throughout all the words. Now the problem I am running into, if I bring the Threshold down, yes, I am getting more highlights over here, but then these are all way blown out because the light is closer to this area. So I want to keep the highlight for the Threshold still kind of high, but what we need to do is add another light into the scene. So let's drag this first light.
If you can't click on it in the canvas, go ahead and select it in the Layers tab, and just click to the right and drag to bring our light over to this side. Okay, that's looking pretty good, but what we need to do is add a second light into the scene. So, select the Light layer and press Command+D. Now, everything is going to blow up, but don't worry about it. Drag the Light copy back over to the left, and it's still going to be really light, and that's again just because everything is kind of multiplying off of itself. So we need to bring the Intensity down for that light, and that's going to help kind of break the problem that we're having here just a little bit.
Now, we'll need to bring the Intensity down for this other light as well because they're kind of playing off of each other. So there we go. Okay, that's definitely starting to look better, and again, you can kind of adjust these settings to your own personal preference. But again, it's going to be kind of hit or miss as far as how things go. So, you can definitely adjust the falloff as another way of combating this really bright highlight issue, or you can actually reposition the lights. Like if I click on the Z axis here, I can bring the light slightly back in the scene and it's not going to have as much of a high heat on that letter.
Actually, let's bring them both back just a little bit here. And if you move them up in the scene, you know that definitely adjust things as well, or down in the scene as the case may be. Okay, so now we've actually got some bling going on our letters, and we definitely have some more punch in the scene. I want to add a little bit more punch by visiting the Shininess setting on our floor. So, if you select the Rectangle option under Properties, let's go down to Lighting, and under Shading, enable Highlights. And there, now we just added two little streaks in here.
Let me turn that off again. But you notice, when you do that, it adds streaks, and those streaks kind of add a little more visual interest. So I kind of like how this is looking. We've definitely increased our contrast in the scene. So let's go ahead and hide our Layers tab, and press Command+R to load up a RAM preview. With highlights and things like that, I definitely like to load a RAM preview just so I can actually have the computer take a lot of the heat off of the real-time preview with all the highlights and materials and all that sort of thing.
All right! Now that we have our RAM preview loaded, I'll just go ahead and check that out from the beginning of the comp. So now that you've seen how lights and materials mix together, I hope you're inspired to start tweaking away and creating your own mix for success.
- Shortcuts for previewing and setting type
- Using type as a design element
- Creating dynamic transitions
- Creating and using color palettes
- Working with particles to create depth
- Adding details with lighting
- Integrating audio in a project
- Editing techniques
- Animating a lower 3rd
- Animating and styling a map
- Building a storyboard