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Shadow over a large area

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Corlin Palmer
Shadow over a large area
on Sep 7, 2011 at 11:08:36 pm

I want to do an effect where a shadow (from an alien ship) falls over a large area, kind of like in the pilot episode of V. I motion tracked the footage and made an adjustment layer, but don't know the right settings to get a good shadow. Do i use Levels? Brightness? Make it 3d and do a drop shadow? Also, it would be optimal for the existing shadows to merge into the one that's being cast, instead of just getting darker. Any help is appreciated, thanks!


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ben g unguren
Re: Shadow over a large area
on Sep 8, 2011 at 1:34:02 am

You can match up shadows pretty closely using a grey-ish solid set to a darkening blend mode like Multiply or Linear Burn. Apply a Hue/Saturation filter to the solid, click colorize, and tweak the hue, saturation, and lightness of your solid until it creates something close to the color of the shadow...

A second option, which I tend to use, is to make a copy of your background layer and use your "shadow" solid as an alpha matte for the background layer. Then apply levels to the masked background plate and tweak the various settings until you get a look that is similar to the shadow color. It can be a little tricky, but you can get shadows that are VERY close to the original shadows. Here's one I did recently:



The cougar on the left was composited in. The shadow was done in a separate pass, using the masks/levels method I just described. Notice how cleanly it matches with the actual horizontal shadow that it intersects with. (Note that this was with footage shot on a RED camera, 32-bit floating imagery, so I had a lot of image-range to work with.)

Ben Unguren
Motion Graphics & Editing
http://www.mostlydocumentary.com


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Corlin Palmer
Re: Shadow over a large area
on Sep 8, 2011 at 3:12:35 am

Thanks for your help! Though I still have the problem of all the existing shadows becoming darker. I tried keying them out with a luma key, but it doesn't look great. Can you think of a good way to do this? Thanks so much.

PS you did a perfect job on that picture there.


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ben g unguren
Re: Shadow over a large area
on Sep 8, 2011 at 4:17:38 am

You'll need to mask out any existing shadows that will be cancelled out by your CG shadows. Use a program like Mocha if there is any camera or object movement, or just buckle down and roto. A procedural matte (or something like a luma key) will usually have too much flicker.

What you want to do in the end is cut out the DARKENED layer where existing shadows are. I find that using the "Darken" blend mode can help smooth things together as well....

Ben Unguren
Motion Graphics & Editing
http://www.mostlydocumentary.com


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ben g unguren
Re: Shadow over a large area
on Sep 8, 2011 at 5:21:16 am

Also, in the example above, I took the lighter concrete and cheated it down a bit. That way I could have some overlap before the dark shadow became super-dark, and composited it with a Darken blend mode.

Ben Unguren
Motion Graphics & Editing
http://www.mostlydocumentary.com


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