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Using Lights to Create Shadows for Animated Layers in After Effects
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Released Jan 28, 2013
Laura Hawk

Pluralsight

Laura Hawk
In this series of After Effects tutorials, we will discuss the steps we take to set up this winter scene; complete with lights, shadows, lens flares and many more realistic effects.

We will start by building the layout for the simple sky and ground layers and then rather than just jumping right in and adding trees all over this ground, we build a series of precomposed layers with our trees. While this does take more time to set up initially, it makes for easy updates later in the project.

We then jump into adding our light and learning how to adjust the settings on our light, and on the layers affected by the light, to give us some insight into how we get the best possible shadows out of our setup. We talk about some really valuable expressions that we use to track a light to our camera and track the lensflare to our light, but these expressions can be used for lots of different After Effects projects and are great to implement in any projects you tackle with tricky 3D layer tracking.

We also delve into creating atmospheric distortion with a light. This distortion follows our camera and gives faraway objects that hazy look. This is a technique that could be used in infinite ways for more projects than just what we create in this course. We finish off by adding some lens effects that make our scene appear as if it were shot with a real camera.
Introduction and Project Overview
1

Introduction and Project Overview

 
01:18
Creating the sky and ground
2

Creating the sky and ground

 
04:27
Setting up the 3D shadow for the trees
3

Setting up the 3D shadow for the trees

 
13:17
Creating a Composition of trees with the sky and ground
4

Creating a Composition of trees with the sky and ground

 
15:43
Duplicating the Precomp of trees to create the forest
5

Duplicating the Precomp of trees to create the forest

 
15:45
Adding the Light
6

Adding the Light

 
03:22
Turning on the Light and Material Options for our layers
7

Turning on the Light and Material Options for our layers

 
12:30
Adding a Camera and a Null Object
8

Adding a Camera and a Null Object

 
18:22
Adding the lens flare
9

Adding the lens flare

 
19:49
Adding Depth of Field
10

Adding Depth of Field

 
06:39
Preparing our Composition to create atmospheric distortion
11

Preparing our Composition to create atmospheric distortion

 
19:48
Setting up the light for the atmospheric distortion
12

Setting up the light for the atmospheric distortion

 
16:06
Using the pre-rendered sequence for atmospheric distortion
13

Using the pre-rendered sequence for atmospheric distortion

 
04:40
Adding our final lens effects
14

Adding our final lens effects

 
12:55