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Creating an elliptical spotlight

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Ricardo Sánchez-SáezCreating an elliptical spotlight
by on May 17, 2010 at 4:21:11 am

Hello everybody,

I am trying to create a spotlight to illuminate some 3D text (it also casts shadows on a background). Is there a way to make an elliptical spotlight which is more wide than tall? Up so far I have only been able to create circular ones.


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Jack HowardRe: Creating an elliptical spotlight
by on May 17, 2010 at 10:22:45 am

Hi Ricardo,

If you create a light inside of After Effects, and it should give you the options of moving the light source around, as well as where the light points to. Adjust these to your needs. Also, ensure that "Cast Shadows" is checked on.

If the "Cast Shadows", fails to Cast Shadows, then try duplicating your text, making it Black, Blurring it, then positioning it in 3D space to act as a shadow. Experiment with transfer modes with this method.

A third method you could try is to make this circular spotlight, then to make it 3D and put it in whatever perspective you need it.

Hope this helps,

Jack Howard

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Ricardo Sánchez-SáezRe: Creating an elliptical spotlight
by on May 17, 2010 at 12:43:15 pm

Hello Jack, and thank you for taking the time to answer my question.!

Your shadows tips will come in handy, specially the part in which you explain how to simulate shadows with black text. However, I think my commentary about shadows diverted the actual focus of my question.

What I really want to know is how to make an elliptic spotlight. What I am trying to do is, without moving the source of the spotlight, make the cone of light less tall and more wide. Is that possible? Currently the cone always lights in a completely circular fashion.

I don't think I understand your last commentary, how do I make a spotlight 3D and how do I change its perspective?

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Jack HowardRe: Creating an elliptical spotlight
by on May 17, 2010 at 2:06:42 pm

Forget that last paragraph. I typed it up before I experimented on AE, and it was phrased all wrong, and I forgot to delete it, sorry.

Unfortunately, I don't think you can alter the shape of the cone in the light. You could try a thrid-party plugin, have a look around google. I'm sorry that I couldn't be of any help. As I said before, the only way I could think of is to alter the position of the source, the point where the light points to, and the angle of the cone.

I found something else you as well, instead of making that shadow "illusion" I said before, if you go into the "Material Options" of your text, and check on "Cast Shadows", it will cast your shadows for you.

Hope any of this helped,

Jack Howard

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Michael SzalapskiRe: Creating an elliptical spotlight
by on May 17, 2010 at 2:13:23 pm

If you move the position of the light, but not its point of interest, the spotlight's shape will change, but where the light falls will not.

- The Great Szalam
(The 'Great' stands for 'Not So Great, in fact, Extremely Humble')

No trees were harmed in the creation of this message, but several thousand electrons were mildly inconvenienced.

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Darby EdelenRe: Creating an elliptical spotlight
by on May 21, 2010 at 9:55:18 pm

There is a way to cheat this by using a masked solid as a gobo.

I've attached a scene here for reference, but basically you need the light to cast shadows. The gobo, or "Shadow_Caster" as I've called it in the scene, should be set to Casts Shadows - Only with a mask applied. You can then parent this gobo to the spotlight, move it incredibly close to the spotlight, increase the spotlight's cone angle (but not too much, you don't want it to spill over the side of the gobo) and scale the gobo down.

Hopefully the scene will be fairly self-explanatory, but feel free to post with any questions. Use the feather of the mask to control the 'feather' of the spotlight. If you need the edge of the lighting to be hard then enable the 'continuously rasterize' switch on the gobo solid layer (as in the scene if you disable the "Shadow_Caster" layer and enable the "Star_Caster" layer).

Darby Edelen

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