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ADOBE AFTER EFFECTS 1

Create moving shadows

Adobe After Effects 5.0

Create moving shadows

The lights feature in Adobe® After Effects® 5.0 gives you enormous flexibility in illuminating a 3D scene. Besides brightening an area of a layer, lights also alter perspective or cause an image to cast a shadow upon other layers. If you animate a light, then the shadow cast by the illuminated layer moves as well. This tip demonstrates how combining animated lights with images created in Adobe Photoshop® or Adobe Illustrator® yields ominous, moving shadows.

2. Add 3D properties.

Import the image you created into Adobe After Effects and place it in a new composition. Create a solid layer of any color that is at least the same size as the composition. The solid layer is the "floor" on which the lights cast a shadow. Designate each layer as 3D. Expand the Material Options for the image layer and click the underlined value for Casts Shadows so that it reads "On."

3. Position the floor layer.

In the Timeline window, select the solid layer. Press R, then hold down Shift and press P to reveal both the Position and Rotation properties. In the Orientation property, drag the underlined x-axis value to rotate the solid. In the Position property, drag the underlined yaxis value to lower the solid so that it rests underneath the image layer.

1. Create art in Illustrator or Photoshop.

In either Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator, create an image against a transparent background. For best results, this image should be composed of text or a group of graphic elements with space between the elements. Lights passing through these sorts of images create more dramatic shadows.

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Create moving shadows

4. Add the lights.

Choose Layer > New > Light to create a light. In the Light Settings dialog box, type a name for the light in the Name box, choose Ambient from the Light Type menu, and click OK. Now, create another new light, name it, choose Spot from the Light Type menu, and select the Cast Shadows option. To reduce the scene's brightness or accent the shadows cast by the image layer, change the intensity of the ambient light. Doubleclick the ambient light layer in the Timeline window and, in the Light Settings dialog box, type a lower number in the Intensity box. Because the ambient light evenly illuminates the entire scene, it does not cast shadows; therefore, the Cast Shadows option is not available for ambient lights.

The ambient light cannot be moved because it has no definable source; therefore, no icon for it appears in the Composition window.

6. Animate the spotlight.

In the Timeline window, make sure that the spotlight layer is selected. Place the current-time marker at a point you want the animation to begin and click the stopwatch icon next to the Position value name to create a beginning keyframe. Move the current-time marker to a point where you want the animation to end and, in the Composition window, reposition the spotlight to create an ending keyframe.

5. Position the spotlight.

In the Timeline window, select the spotlight layer and press P to reveal the Position property. Drag any of the underlined values to adjust the light along the x, y, and z axes, respectively. Notice how the image layer casts shadows on the floor layer. To more precisely position the spotlight, switch 3D views by clicking the 3D View Popup menu in the lower right corner of the Composition window and choosing another view. Continue to adjust the spotlight until it is at a point where you would like to begin an animation.

7. Preview the animation.

Choose Active Camera from the 3D View Popup menu; then click the RAM Preview botton to preview the animation.

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Create moving shadows

Experiment with this effect to create different shadow properties. Try creating a more complex motion path for the spotlight layer, changing the spotlight settings, or animating the image layer.

Adobe, the Adobe logo, After Effects, Photoshop, and Illustrator are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries. Windows is either a registered trademark or trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. Macintosh is a trademark of Apple Computer, Inc., registered in the United States and other countries. ©2001 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All rights reserved.

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Create moving shadows

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GENERAL DESCRIPTION (ENTER TEXT) Title Short Blurb Create moving shadows Moving shadows can accent an animation or create a certain mood in your 3D composition. Here's how you can animate lights to make shadows that sweep across a floor. Moving shadows can accent an animation or create a certain mood in your 3D composition. Here's how you can animate lights to make shadows that sweep across a floor.

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