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Lights in After Effects and Cinema 4D

Using different applications to arrange lights By Ko Maruyama
Arranging Lights in 3D space

Using After Effects lights is a pretty straightforward task.  Lights are simply objects that can be placed in 3D space and can illuminate other 3D layers within the composition.  Although they have special attributes, lights follow similar 3D transformation parameters as other 3D layers.  Sometimes it's difficult to arrange the layers, or lights, in 3D space.  Here are a couple of methods that might prove useful.

Manually creating lights around a circle:
  1. Open After Effects and create a new composition with a matching solid (200x200).
  2. Select the solid and create a circular mask on the new solid by using the elliptical mask tool (hold down option-shift after you've begun to drag your mask from the center).
  3. Add a new light (from the Layer -> New -> Light)
  4. Select the Mask Shape and copy the data.
  5. Select the position track of the light and paste the data.
  6. Move the Time Marker ahead 10 frames (shift-pg down), then duplicate the Original Light layer (cmd-d).
  7. On the new duplicate light, select the position track (p) and delete the keyframes by clicking on the stopwatch.

  8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 until the end of the composition.
You should now have lights positioned around the circle, with a duplicate at the end.  Delete the original light.

Because Trapcode Lux won't see lights from a continuously rasterized precomp, you'll have to run through a series of duplication and parenting each of the lights to create a sphere of lights.

Alternatively, if you have Cinema4D, it is quite easy to put lights around a sphere for your After Effects project.

Before you launch into Cinema4D, make sure that you've downloaded the latest plugin from Ian Gorse.  Among other handling modeling uses, Ian's new plugin "PlaceOnPoints" is an obvious choice for global illumination - as it quickly runs lights around any object, including spheroid primatives.  Go to www.spot4d.co.uk to download a free copy.  Put PlaceOnPoints into your Cinema4D plugin folder, then launch the application.

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Related Keywords:Trapcode, Adobe, After Effects, Cinema4D, Maxon, Lux, PlaceOnPoints


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