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How can I add shadows to these particles?

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Mark Suszko
How can I add shadows to these particles?
on Jun 2, 2010 at 5:01:58 pm

I'm working in Motion 3.

What I've done is to use some of the supplied content files and modified them. I grabbed the Demographic People project, where cute little guys with abstract body shapes and ball-shaped heads in different colors pop into place to build a crowd, as a camera move sweeps across the crowd.






I replaced the actual abstract-looking demogram figure as the particle source with the .mov file of "people", also from the content section of Motion 3, and tweaked the frame hold rate so the crowd spawns in an apropriate and random-looking way. So far, so good. Now the file works the same as original, but the shapes look like real people silhouettes.






The original camera move looks pretty good with this. But my popping people seem flat because they don't cast a shadow of any kind, not even a drop shadow. A control panel for that doesn't even appear in the inspector. I'm guessing something about my particle source being a .mov file is the reason for that? Is there a work-around I can apply to the particle generator that would give each particle a shadow?


I'd also like an opinion or suggestion on another part of this project I won't get to 'til later.

Later in the spot, I'm going to keyframe a crane-like move of the camera (Johnny LaRue would be impressed) to swoop up and look down on the crowd of particle people, to reveal they are standing on a giant client logo on the "floor". What I'm looking for is a way to mask out or modify the particle emitter to leave an empty "donut hole" in the center of that crowd, so that the logo is less obscured by the figures. I don't have a good idea yet of what the best strategy is to cut a "hole" in an emitted particle crowd like that.





Any hints?

As always, thanks for everyone's input.



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Stephen Smith
Re: How can I add shadows to these particles?
on Jun 2, 2010 at 5:23:10 pm

Motion 4 can do it real fast for you. You are on Motion 3 right?


600 ? 600: true);" src="http://www.lonepeakproductions.com/img/cow/Steve_COW.jpg" align="right">

Stephen Smith
Utah Video Productions

Check out my Motion Training DVD

Check out my Motion Tutorials


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Mark Spencer
Re: How can I add shadows to these particles?
on Jun 2, 2010 at 5:44:03 pm

Your best solution is to upgrade to Motion 4 which has shadows (and depth of field for that matter). Cost is $299 - how much is your time worth to try to fake it in Motion 3?

--
Mark Spencer
Freelance Producer/Editor/Motion Graphics Artist
Apple-certified Master Trainer
Author, Motion 4 from Peachpit Press
http://www.applemotion.net


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Mark Suszko
Re: How can I add shadows to these particles?
on Jun 2, 2010 at 6:09:10 pm

.








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Stephen Smith
Re: How can I add shadows to these particles?
on Jun 2, 2010 at 6:16:54 pm

Okay, I got an answer on how to do it. Give me a few minutes to write it out.


Stephen Smith
Utah Video Productions

Check out my Motion Training DVD

Check out my Motion Tutorials


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Stephen Smith
Re: How can I add shadows to these particles?
on Jun 2, 2010 at 6:24:58 pm

In the Demographic Crowd locate the demogram layer. Its name may have been changed. Anyways, it is the layer that is the Particle Source. It will be disabled. Create a new group and put it in the group. Enable it so you can see it. Duplicate the layer and then change its X rotation so it is on the floor. You may wan to to mess with the Y rotation as well. Make sure it lines up with the bottom of the layer by moving its position. It will look like a very hard drop shadow. Feel free to drop it's opacity and add a Gaussian Blur.

Next, select the Emitter and select the Emitter tab. Scroll to the bottom and you will see a particle source well. Drag the new group into the well and every icon has a drop shadow. Hope I made enough sense. Best of luck and hope this helps.


Stephen Smith
Utah Video Productions

Check out my Motion Training DVD

Check out my Motion Tutorials


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Stephen Smith
Re: How can I add shadows to these particles?
on Jun 2, 2010 at 6:27:45 pm

Sorry, forgot one step. Add a Levels filter to the "demogram" layer that has become the shadow. In the Filters tab you will have a gradient from black to white. With a triangle on the black side and another triangle on the white. Move the White triangle all the way to the black one and it will make your drop shadow black.

Stephen Smith
Utah Video Productions

Check out my Motion Training DVD

Check out my Motion Tutorials


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Mark Suszko
Re: How can I add shadows to these particles?
on Jun 2, 2010 at 6:30:32 pm

Does your Momma know how much you ROCK, dude? I must be osmosing some of your talent because I was just about to ask if there wasn't some way to simply mirror the particle output in the vertical axis and place it feet-to-feet with the original in a blend mode.

Any brain waves on the "donut hole" problem?


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Mark Suszko
Re: How can I add shadows to these particles? In motion 3. Without additional expenditure.
on Jun 2, 2010 at 6:18:24 pm

Motion 3 is all I've got for this.

Sorry if the image response was a bit terse, it's been a month of many MANY unforseen personal expenses, and asking for money for upgrades is a sore point in my shop, seeing as we're 13 BILLION dollars in the red this year, I'm lucky just to have a job.

So yeah, I have to make do with what's on hand.

Is there a way to create a clone of the generated particles, color them all gray, and rotate them in space to fake the shadows? Maybe render them out as a separate pass and layer/group?

Failing that, any ideas are still most welcome on the second half of the problem; cutting a hole in the middle of my field of people to keep the logo area free of particles? Is there a geometry setting that would emit in a donut-shaped range? Or a way to mask the area? Maybe if I make two passes, a floor layer pass, and a complete composite pass, and set up a wipe in FCP?



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Mark Suszko
Re: How can I add shadows to these particles? In motion 3. Without additional expenditure.
on Jun 2, 2010 at 7:23:48 pm

Progress!

see:



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Stephen Smith
Re: How can I add shadows to these particles? In motion 3. Without additional expenditure.
on Jun 2, 2010 at 7:28:54 pm

Mark,
Very cool! Thanks for sharing, it's looking great!

Stephen Smith
Utah Video Productions

Check out my Motion Training DVD

Check out my Motion Tutorials


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Mark Suszko
Re: How can I add shadows to these particles? In motion 3. Without additional expenditure.
on Jun 2, 2010 at 7:28:54 pm

Actually I did this a little differently: after I duplicated the emitter layer, adjusting the color, dropping the opacity and demoting the layer behind the original, I just unchecked the "3D" box, and boom, flat version that just needed some x/y tweaking. Not "perfect" yet, but way closer and within the budget:-) Might do as you said and add a blur filter, which covers a lot of sins...

You, Mr. Smith, will never need to buy a meal if you ever drive thru Springfield, IL :-)


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Mark Suszko
Re: How can I add shadows to these particles? In motion 3. Without additional expenditure.
on Jun 2, 2010 at 7:33:09 pm

Now If I can just part the particles from the center of the floor... I tried applying a "repel" behavior to the logo in the center of the floor, (logo is a separate piece, sitting just above the floor) but nothing seems to happen. I'm sure I'm missing a step, or not associating things properly...


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Jason Diebler
Re: How can I add shadows to these particles? In motion 3. Without additional expenditure.
on Jun 3, 2010 at 3:02:22 pm

For the hole, instead of trying to manipulate 1 group to do what you want it to do, maybe you could stage several mini groups to create the cluster around the logo.

Like so: L = Logo, * = people

* * *
* L *
* * *



"The deepest blues are black" - Foo Fighters
(this doesn't help me when I'm chroma keying!)


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Mark Suszko
Re: How can I add shadows to these particles? In motion 3. Without additional expenditure.
on Jun 3, 2010 at 4:41:22 pm

That's some good lateral thinking, Jason. I may try it.


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Mark Suszko
Re: How can I add shadows to these particles? In motion 3. Without additional expenditure.
on Jun 7, 2010 at 3:57:20 pm

Jason, I wound up needing only to duplicate my single rectangular particle people generator, and slide it over to another part of the comp. By applying a little rotation, I got a believable hole in the crowd around the logo on the floor.


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Mark Suszko
Re: How can I add shadows to these particles? In motion 3. Without additional expenditure.
on Jun 7, 2010 at 4:16:49 pm



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Terry Mikkelsen
Re: How can I add shadows to these particles? In motion 3. Without additional expenditure.
on Jun 7, 2010 at 4:51:05 pm

Nice job!

ps - I found Waldo

Tech-T Productions
http://www.technical-t.com


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Mark Suszko
Re: How can I add shadows to these particles? In motion 3. Without additional expenditure.
on Jun 7, 2010 at 5:22:25 pm

LOL. Tell him I'm still waiting for that check.
Downside of using so many particle people is, even with 8 cores cranking, a 20--odd second full-rez, full-quality render pass with the motion blur turned on is taking close to 3 hours. When I get better at this, I will know how to limit the particle generation to more closely fit my camera view, so as to reduce the rendering overhead.


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Andy Neil
Re: How can I add shadows to these particles? In motion 3. Without additional expenditure.
on Jun 7, 2010 at 5:24:44 pm

I know you've got this figured out, but I thought I'd add a tip for the future. Instead of using a particle emitter, create your crowd with the replicator instead. Then, using a sequence replicator behavior, you can cause some of the replicates to have an opacity of 0. You may need to apply several sequence replicators, but I had the same issue awhile back and that's how I solved it.

Andy


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Mark Suszko
Re: How can I add shadows to these particles? In motion 3. Without additional expenditure.
on Jun 7, 2010 at 6:32:17 pm

NOW he tells me! :-)

I'll keep that trick in my pocket for the next time I do something like this. It might be nice for creating lots of vehicles in a highway scene, for example.


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Jason Diebler
Re: How can I add shadows to these particles? In motion 3. Without additional expenditure.
on Jun 8, 2010 at 2:31:45 pm

I'm glad that worked. It looks really cool. Is that crowd by chance the Verizon network? :)

"The deepest blues are black" - Foo Fighters
(this doesn't help me when I'm chroma keying!)


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Mark Suszko
Re: How can I add shadows to these particles? In motion 3. Without additional expenditure.
on Jun 8, 2010 at 4:29:06 pm

Thanks for the validation. Sorry I had to mask the lgo for now, it's not soup yet. No, it's not for any phone company.

I keep wondering how to make it better; the floor could look more like polished marble or glass if I added a specular highlight somehow. Some of the people shadows don't line up perfectly, but you wouldn't notice that on just one viewing because the camera is always moving. I would like to see if I could use a variation of this methid to populate crowd shots in stadiums, then animate some card-flip stuff with them.

Also, I would like to learn how to make them flow together to coalesce into a logo image, but not for this spot, just as an intellectual exercise. I figure I would do it in reverse; generate the logo, turn it into particles, then make the particles move apart and scatter. Just throw it into final cut and reverse the playback later.


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Stephen Smith
Re: How can I add shadows to these particles? In motion 3. Without additional expenditure.
on Jun 8, 2010 at 9:19:21 pm

[Mark] I keep wondering how to make it better; the floor could look more like polished marble or glass if I added a specular highlight somehow.

Take a look at my Reflections for Motion 3 video tutorial. Don't for get to put it in a group and drag the group to your particle well.

[Mark] Also, I would like to learn how to make them flow together to coalesce into a logo image, but not for this spot, just as an intellectual exercise. I figure I would do it in reverse; generate the logo, turn it into particles, then make the particles move apart and scatter. Just throw it into final cut and reverse the playback later.

Take a look at the Particle Metrix plug-in. It has a 15 day free trial.

Best of luck.


Stephen Smith
Utah Video Productions

Check out my Motion Training DVD

Check out my Motion Tutorials


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