7 Replies Latest reply on Jul 26, 2017 11:21 PM by Mylenium

    Creating diffused shadows from a Parallel Light?

    thracker11

      HI,

       

      I have motion tracked a clip using 3D Camera Tracker.  I created text and extruded it and added several lights and a shadow catcher.  My problem is that I'm using a parallel light to simulate sunlight and produce the appropriate shadow.  I want to diffuse the shadow, but I don't seem to get that option with a parallel light.  I've tried adjusting the Ray-tracing Quality Setting, but it made no difference.  I also tried adjusting the AntiAliasing, but still no difference.  Does anyone have any ideas how I can diffuse the shadow for a parallel light? 

        • 1. Re: Creating diffused shadows from a Parallel Light?
          Dave LaRonde Level 6

          I wouldn't use parallel light.  I'd use a normal spotlight, but back it way, way up from the subject.

          • 2. Re: Creating diffused shadows from a Parallel Light?
            Mylenium Most Valuable Participant

            It's not possible with AE's parallel lights. as suggested, simply use a spot light. Otherwise shadows often can be faked using layer duplicates, but without knowing anything about your comp nobody can advise specifically.

             

            Mylenium

            • 3. Re: Creating diffused shadows from a Parallel Light?
              Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

              It is possible, it's just a lot of work.

               

              1. Before you make the layer casting a shadow 3D duplicate it and name the duplicate soft shadow
              2. Add an adjustment layer on top of the soft shadow layer
              3. Add a gradient filled shape layer above the adjustment layer with a black to white vertical gradient extending from the bottom of the layer to the top of the layer and name it track matte
              4. Set the gradient filled shape layer as a luma track matte for the adjustment layer
              5. Add a significant Gaussian blur to the adjustment layer so that the shadow layer has little blur at the bottom and a lot of blur at the top
              6. Pre-compose the soft shadow, adjustment and track matte layer and name the pre-comp shadow caster
              7. Make the shadow caster pre-comp and the layer you want to cast the shadow 3D
              8. Add a solid to the comp, name it ground, make it 3D and rotate it into position
              9. With all 3 layer selected press the A key twice to reveal the material options
              10. Set the shadow caster pre-comp to cast shadows only
              11. Set the original layer, the one casting the shadow to Cast Shadows off
              12. Set the ground layer to receive shadows
              13. Add a parallel light and adjust the point of interest to make the light fall where you want it to fall
              14. Press AA to reveal the light options of the parallel light and make sure it is set to cast shadows and the fall off is set to none or adjust it to the setting you want to use
              15. Make final adjustments of the soft shadow in the pre-comp by adjusting the amount of blur and the gradient to get the look you want

              Screen Shot 2017-07-26 at 9.12.49 AM.png

               

              The second option is to add a point or a spot light and adjust the light....

               

              Here's a project file for you to play with: Dropbox - softShadowParalellLight.aep (note: your browser may add a .txt extension to the file when it is downloaded. Just delete it and things should work just fine)

              • 4. Re: Creating diffused shadows from a Parallel Light?
                thracker11 Level 1

                Hey Guys,

                 

                Thanks so much for weighing in on this question.  I find the limitations of After Effects CC 2017, on this issue, a bit frustrating.  Maybe there will be some improvements soon.  I appreciate your responses and suggestions.

                 

                Rick, as usual, you've gone the extra mile.  I appreciate the extra time and effort you used in helping me out with my question.  The inclusion of a sample .aep has also been very helpful.

                 

                Again, thanks to everyone!!

                 

                Jorge

                • 5. Re: Creating diffused shadows from a Parallel Light?
                  Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                  In the real world the sun gives parallel light and the edges of the shadows are hard. That's the way it works in nature and in AE and it makes perfect sense. I'm not sure why you would want to create soft shadows from parallel light when it's so easy to create natural looking diffused shadows using a spot light or a point light.

                   

                  My explanation was more an exercise in compositing using AE's 3D space and track mattes. The techniques I demonstrated can be used for far more than just faking a diffuse shadow.

                   

                  You also would want to be adding some ambient light whenever you are working with shadows and you need to pay attention to the falloff distance and type. There's a lot to learn.

                  • 6. Re: Creating diffused shadows from a Parallel Light?
                    Mylenium Most Valuable Participant

                    Maybe there will be some improvements soon.

                    Unless AE switches to a full native raytracer (not that RRaytrace 3D or Cinema 4D nonsense) that is unlikely. Something to to with randomizing sample positions and the emission origin.

                     

                    Mylenium

                    • 7. Re: Creating diffused shadows from a Parallel Light?
                      Mylenium Most Valuable Participant

                      Rick GerardIn the real world the sun gives parallel light and the edges of the shadows are hard. That's the way it works in nature

                      Not at all. It's merely a simplification going back to the olden days of computer graphics. I'm gonna spare you a detailed explanation from my POV as a physics buff...

                       

                      Mylenium