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Generating an artificial key-light shadow in AE?

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Richard ChristyGenerating an artificial key-light shadow in AE?
by on Jul 21, 2011 at 4:03:03 am

In my studio, I'm using a three point lighting setup, with a subject against a screen.

The thing is, I have to reposition the lights in a non-traditional way in order to over expose the screen for post-production purposes (it's a desired effect so we're doing this on purpose).

This issue in doing this, is that the subject in the foreground is lit fairly evenly (or flatly, with no key-light shadow as this light is moved in more closely to achieve the desired effect of the screen).

I'm able to color correct the foreground subject with filters and get a nice, crisp look. However, one noticeable draw back is the lack of slightly darker side (or shadowed side) of the face you typically get with a three point setup.

Is there a plug-in or method in AE to generate an artificial key-light shadow on one side of the subjects face without altering the overall color in general?

Thanks!


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Tudor "Ted" JelescuRe: Generating an artificial key-light shadow in AE?
by on Jul 21, 2011 at 6:54:17 am

Why do it in post when it would be so easy to bring in additional lights in the studio? No filter can simulate what a real light does.

Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior VFX Artist


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Dave LaRondeRe: Generating an artificial key-light shadow in AE?
by on Jul 21, 2011 at 2:49:23 pm

I'm with Ted: do it in the studio. You will save yourself so much grief and so much time you won't believe it.

Unless, of course, you enjoy animating effects and masks on a frame-by-frame basis.
In which case, knock yourself out.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Richard ChristyRe: Generating an artificial key-light shadow in AE?
by on Jul 21, 2011 at 3:54:21 pm

It's hard to describe the studio setup other than, the current setup is what we have to work with. We have neither the resources or the room to bring in any more lights, or move the subject. I know the conventional wisdom is to always adjust issues at the time instead of after the fact, but in this case, it's inevitable.

However, I should mention the foreground subject does not move. They are always in a stationary position for the duration of the video.

I have seen AE plug ins that let you designate an area you wish to focus on (IE: using a simple, circular mask type cursor) and it generates the desired effect in and around this area.

Are you saying there is no such method that will allow to generate the key-light shadow?


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Dave LaRondeRe: Generating an artificial key-light shadow in AE?
by on Jul 21, 2011 at 4:20:34 pm

[Richard Christy] "Are you saying there is no such method that will allow to generate the key-light shadow?"

That's right, there is NO easy method for doing this. You'd have to create your own shadows by cutting masks on a solid to simulate them.

And if the subject is static, why screw around with a chroma key AT ALL, huh?

Shoot a HIGH-RESOLUTION STILL of the subject properly-lit against a poorly-lit chroma key background. Take the still into Photoshop. Cut out the background. Use it in AE. Done. It's easy.

Unless there are details about the shot you're not telling us, that is....

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Barend OnneweerRe: Generating an artificial key-light shadow in AE?
by on Jul 21, 2011 at 4:42:33 pm

If you can't bring additional lights, can you put a piece of black fabric or foamboard on one side of the subject? This 'negative bounce' will help creating a less flat look.

Other than that, you can manually mask out your highlight areas and lift them a little using any colour grading tool.

Raamw3rk - digital storytelling and visual effects


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Richard ChristyRe: Generating an artificial key-light shadow in AE?
by on Jul 21, 2011 at 5:08:11 pm

It is a screen, but we're not chroma keying. We're going for a desired effect and the current lighting setup proves to get us what we need. The lack of shadow is the unwanted bi-product.

I under this is a manual process of adding the shadow back in, and I'm willing to give it a try. That's actually why I'm posting. I just need to know WHAT method. Not sure how to go about it...

My assumption is that, at some point, someone has ran into a similar problem and fixed it in AE after wards. I just need to find this method so I can give it a try.

My Google searches always return results for shadows in a chroma key environment (and not really the same thing in this case).


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Barend OnneweerRe: Generating an artificial key-light shadow in AE?
by on Jul 21, 2011 at 5:13:53 pm

Your description is a bit confusing. A picture would probably come in handy right about now.

But it sounds like you want to manually draw in the highlights. So create an adjustmentlayer, mask the highlight areas, add a little feather to the mask and use Levels, Curves or Exposure to lift the highlights a little.

For more detailed advise you really should show an image of what you're working with.

Raamw3rk - digital storytelling and visual effects


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Walter SoykaRe: Generating an artificial key-light shadow in AE?
by on Jul 21, 2011 at 5:28:02 pm

Can you post a screen shot of your footage?

If I absolutely had to do this in post, I would try to track points or features on the subject's face. Next, I'd hand-paint a depth map of the face. After that, I'd try to morph the depth map according to the tracked features as the subject moves. I'd use a Sobel filter to attempt to convert the depth map to a normal map, and then I'd use normals-based re-lighting to attempt to realistically cast the shadows.

After all that time and effort, I'd be totally disappointed in the results.

Have you considered exposing the subject properly, rotoscoping the subject, and manipulating the screen background in post?

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Dave LaRondeRe: Generating an artificial key-light shadow in AE?
by on Jul 21, 2011 at 6:04:44 pm

[Richard Christy] "It is a screen, but we're not chroma keying. We're going for a desired effect and the current lighting setup proves to get us what we need. The lack of shadow is the unwanted bi-product."

If everything is static, shoot it TWICE: once when lit for the subject, then remove the subject, light the background and shoot again.

It's a heck of a lot easier to mask around a subject than it is to invent shadows you don't have.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Dave LaRondeRe: Generating an artificial key-light shadow in AE?
by on Jul 21, 2011 at 10:00:48 pm

[Richard Christy] "My assumption is that, at some point, someone has ran into a similar problem and fixed it in AE after ward."

I've never heard of anyone who's been successful doing this. Of course, they're working with video, and animating shadows on a moving subject is sheer torture in AE.

We typically tell them to re-shoot. Those who refuse to do so, then spend days and days unsuccessfully trying to fix their shots in AE, usually write back asking how to set up their shots properly for a re-shoot.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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