Creating a Spotlight

It's finally time to begin the lighting section. There are several ways to animate After Effects Light layers, which are 3D by default. One technique is to manually create the light's motion path by animating the light's Position property: You add a Position keyframe at one point in time and then reposition the light at other points in time. This usually requires working with your composition in multiple views and subsequently refining the path by using the Pen tool. This method gives you great control over the light's animation but can require a lot of manipulation and time.

Instead of that approach, you'll create your light's motion path by drawing the path with the Elliptical Mask tool and then copying and pasting its keyframes. If you wanted to subsequently refine the path, you could do so with this method by using the Pen tool. Fast and easy.

Here are the steps:


Turn on every layer's 3D switch in the Timeline's Switches column.


To create a spotlight, go to time 0:00, choose Layer > New > Light, and use the following values in the Light Settings dialog:

Light Type: Spot

Intensity: 130

Cone Angle: 55

Cone Feather: 15

Color: white (RGB: 255, 255, 255)

Casts Shadows: checked

Shadow Darkness: 55

Shadow Diffusion: 20


Make sure the light layer is above the other layers in the Timeline.


Use the Elliptical Mask tool to create a circular mask in the Alvarez&Cruz layer and surrounding the composition area. It doesn't matter what point of time you're at in the Timeline.

Creating a motion path with a mask tool


Select the Alvarez&Cruz layer, and press M to display the mask's Mask Shape property. Click the Mask Shape property's name to select it, and then choose Edit > Copy to copy it.


Select the Light layer's Position property in the Timeline, and choose Edit > Paste to paste the mask. You've just created a smooth, perfect oval motion path for your light.

Well, almost perfect. You need to make a few adjustments. Currently, the light has no real distance from your Z axis, so it doesn't appear to point at anything. However, this is easy to fix in the next steps.


Since you don't need the mask in the Alvarez&Cruz layer anymore, expand the layer in the Timeline and delete the layer's mask.


At time 0:00, set the Z value of the Light layer's Position keyframe to 100.


For each of the Light layer's remaining Position keyframes, set the Z value to 300. Press the K key to go to the next keyframe or J to go to the previous keyframe in the layer.

This technique creates an effect in which the light circle is close to the title at the beginning of the animation and then moves away from the title as the title animates into view. As a result, the lighting is softened.


To spread the keyframes over the composition's entire duration, click the Light layer's Position property to select all of the property's keyframes, hold down the Alt key (Windows) or Option key (Mac), and drag the last keyframe to time 9:29.

If you preview your animation at this point, you should see the spotlight on an empty scene; then, the title flies in at center stage.

    Adobe After Effects 6.5 Magic
    Adobe After Effects 6.5 Magic
    ISBN: 0321267230
    EAN: 2147483647
    Year: 2005
    Pages: 236

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