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Chapter 12. Working with Light > Shadows and Reflected Light

Shadows and Reflected Light

Uh-oh, I guess the time has come to talk about creating shadows. If lighting is complex, so are shadows, and maybe more so. At least with lights, if you know where they were placed in your source scene, you can gamely try to directly re-create those conditions. With shadows, however, you could have at your disposal the full dimensional information of the scene and all the lighting, but only a notion of how they should behave (although you have the advantage that your audience wouldn't know, either). Furthermore, because the world of After Effects is not fully three-dimensional, if you have to create realistic shadows from scratch, you're basically faking it.

The addition of 3D features, including lights and shadow casting, to After Effects 5.0 improved the fakery potential, if only somewhat. The problem remains that you're still basically stuck using a flat 2D plane (or planes) to project a shadow and a flat plane (or planes) to receive it, and the greater the angle of difference between the camera and a given light, the less possible it is for that shadow to be accurate.


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