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Using Cast Shadows with AE Lights and Zaxwerks

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Jody Wilson
Using Cast Shadows with AE Lights and Zaxwerks
on Feb 11, 2010 at 9:18:28 am

Hello,

I have a 1920 x 1080 comp with a very simple 3D Invig text element (simple extruded text which was created in Illustrator and then imported). There are five AE lights in the scene, and my 3D Invig layer is set to Use Comp Lights. I have enabled Casts Shadows for each of the lights. When I uncheck Casts Shadows, the comp is very responsive; with it on however, I wait and I wait for a frame to draw, and then the comp window goes black. The only way I can preview how my shadows are looking is to hide the comp window and use Save Frame as File, which takes about 8 minutes to render, which is not a very easy, efficient or user-friendly process.

The lights are set to a shadow darkness of 70%, and a diffusion of 111 pixels. Is there something I am doing wrong? I have read some other posts around the issue of long render times in similar situations, but I don't understand what is happening. Is there an optimized or best setting for AE lights that won't overwhelm the machine but still produces realistic shadows?—Or is that something achieved through trial and error? And why is my screen going black?—Is my video card wimping out? Or is it Zaxwerks wimping out? I would really appreciate any relevant help with my problem.

I am using 3D Invig in After Effects CS4, on a dual core Mac Pro, with 16GB of RAM and a Radeon X1900 graphics card. Thanks very much for your help.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Using Cast Shadows with AE Lights and Zaxwerks
on Feb 11, 2010 at 4:58:59 pm

[Jody Wilson] "There are five AE lights in the scene, and my 3D Invig layer is set to Use Comp Lights. I have enabled Casts Shadows for each of the lights."

I'm not surprised one bit that AE slows down. The amount of thinking AE must do increases exponentially with each additional light in a scene... and you have five of them, all casting shadows. In an HD comp, to boot.

As far as I know, the best way to preview is to disable shadows to check motion, then enable shadows to look at them on crucial individual frames. But just for the heck of it, I did a search using the term "preview with lights" in AE's online help. You may find the results useful:
http://community.adobe.com/help/search.html?q=preview%20with%20lights&hl=en...



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


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Joe Moya
Re: Using Cast Shadows with AE Lights and Zaxwerks
on Feb 11, 2010 at 10:58:03 pm

Zaxwerks can't use multiprocessors... it only renders utilizing one processor core no matter how many you have available...

...add to the fact that you have multiple light setups plus shadows...

... and... viola'... glacial render times... no matter how "simple" of a 3D object you have in the comp.


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