More Particle Shadows in NY

What’s up internet! Yesterday I made a post discussing the idea of dynamic shadows from Particles in After Effects and went on to explore render times and some pros & cons for each solution.

We got a few thoughtful comments which I felt misunderstood the intention of the post and the potential uses for casting shadows with Particular. My intention wasn’t to try and replicate what a 3D program can do like ray-tracing, but instead explore the benefits of quality shadows from a particle system.

Here are a few more examples with various particle types using my dynamic shadow technique. Now, if you look at the smoke example above, notice how the shadow is darker when the stream is closer to the ground and softer as it moves up into the sky. This technique bases the shadows softness and density on the distance from the ground, just like real shadows. Plus you can control the density and softness of the shadows to fit your likings.

The example with the hollow balls was just to show a particle type that didn’t have reflectivity so people would stop calling me out saying the particles don’t reflect each other

Just like with any technique, always be thinking of ways to adapt it to your needs and explore creative uses and benefits.

See High Resolution
See Particles with no background

Stay tuned for the tutorial.

July 4th, 2010 @ 7:41 pm
COOL! where can i find these particle plugins?
July 4th, 2010 @ 7:45 pm
AWESOME to put it lightly. I love you Andrew Kramer. In a non gay way. According to the court.
July 4th, 2010 @ 7:47 pm
Those hollow balls look great!
Eduardo Ubarra
July 4th, 2010 @ 7:52 pm
:O awesome! is it a tutorial about this coming soon?
July 4th, 2010 @ 7:56 pm
Great examples, Andrew. The smoke looks great, are the same particles from your previous Smoke Trails tutorial?
July 4th, 2010 @ 7:57 pm
Awesome!!! I cant w8 for the tutorial
July 4th, 2010 @ 8:04 pm
Hey hey andrew hey hey andrew could you upload the hollow balls project please??????????
July 4th, 2010 @ 8:07 pm
great!! Is this a coming tutorial?
July 4th, 2010 @ 8:07 pm
stop teasing and lets make somthing.
July 4th, 2010 @ 8:09 pm
where did you get the street footage?
July 4th, 2010 @ 8:11 pm
I'm guessing New York?
July 4th, 2010 @ 8:13 pm
How do we do the smoke in the top pic of new york. That would be an awesome tut
July 4th, 2010 @ 8:15 pm
ohBeone --- Theres already a tutorial of that XD
July 4th, 2010 @ 8:21 pm
Yep the tutorial for the smoke is called smoke trails and I used the same smoke element. I did turn on self shading in Particular 2 for better results.
July 4th, 2010 @ 8:25 pm
can you upload these amaizing pics from newyork, everytime i look at it i feel itchy to make something ,please.
July 4th, 2010 @ 8:31 pm
Some really interesting R&D work there Andrew. Nice work!
July 4th, 2010 @ 8:38 pm
On the hollow balls picture / render... wouldn't there be a reflection of the balls on the 3 cars in the front (darker cars on the left and right, as well as red one in center )? I think it is a really great render, but as much detail as you pay to things... odd that it may have slipped by. Have a blessed day, -kmkenpo
ayed zach
July 4th, 2010 @ 8:40 pm
cant wait to watch the tutorial...
well done andrew.
July 4th, 2010 @ 8:55 pm
Andrew! your awesome, thanks for showing us that you dont know everything, that you learn it just like the rest of us! (your human! for a second there I thought you might be the AE God..I still think you may be, and are just trying to trick us into thinking you dont know everything..hmmmmmm I will have to run some tests)


Andrew Kramer Revolution
July 4th, 2010 @ 9:32 pm
Oh No the smoke monster from Lost!!!!!!! It's Real!
July 4th, 2010 @ 9:36 pm
Hi Andrew,
I hear what you are saying regarding the technique which you have employed to achieve this result. Thank you for exploring and sharing.
Amey Adchule
July 4th, 2010 @ 9:50 pm
i need a tut 4 the smoke trails..i know that there is already a tut. but this one looks so much different and aesome...plz Andrew,post a tutorial 4 this,or just a quick tip...!

July 4th, 2010 @ 10:14 pm
Hey, looking forward to the smoke technique!
July 4th, 2010 @ 10:30 pm
...but shadows is great! Can't wait! =)
July 4th, 2010 @ 10:53 pm
hey Andrew... is there any way you can get a better price for the Particular plug-in trough ur website??

Thanx for ur great tutorials...
July 4th, 2010 @ 10:57 pm
@kmkenpo My god! This argument is in every vfx tutorial Andrew posts. This is a post that basically just says that this is an example of the dynamic shadows and not anything else, and now people don't even bother to read.
July 4th, 2010 @ 11:02 pm
Gorgeous shots!! Incredibly effective teq and will likely save loads of time for all of us interested in learning. Keepn my eye peeled for the tut release
post script: I wonder if those spheres are capable of reaching zero pt gravity! Happy Indy Day!
July 4th, 2010 @ 11:18 pm
Hey , what's up Andrew and hi for everybody who follows . you said that "how the shadow is darker when the stream is closer to the ground " But at the same time the cloud also be darker when the stream is closer to the ground. I think it's not seems like real. Can we make same cloud light or homogeneous cloud and darker shadow for closer stream. I think seems more real that way.
May be my feelings wrong but near the center,mid of stream , the streem seems to stay under shadow. Doesn't it. :)
July 4th, 2010 @ 11:23 pm
Hi Andrew it's awesome you are a realy genius person.
July 4th, 2010 @ 11:29 pm
Particle shadows are great, but they are so much better in New York!!! LMAO!

This effect is so amazing Andrew! I cant wait until you make a tutorial about this. I will never understand how one person breaks so much ground in After Effects! :D
July 4th, 2010 @ 11:37 pm
The smoke in the second pic looks like smokey from LOST lol =D Nice job atlhough...
July 4th, 2010 @ 11:38 pm
A M A Z I N G, you don't stop amazing me =)
July 5th, 2010 @ 12:26 am
as it has been said above, the smoke monster from Lost...only now i's the new spin off series from ABC! Smokie solving crime in the streets of NYC:P
July 5th, 2010 @ 1:58 am
July 5th, 2010 @ 2:11 am
Hahah :) I don't want to be mean, but I have impression that at least 1/3 of people are not reading the articles at all before commenting :) That's how we have comments like "Wow, what a shiny car you have on this shot" :))

Very good and useful technique Andrew. I can't wait to see the tutorial!
July 5th, 2010 @ 2:29 am
Andrew, i was wondering, when you upload the Particle Shadows tutorial, will you use the blue or the hollow particles? Or something way different? I'd like the hollow, or maybe both types?
what are you exspecting to use?
July 5th, 2010 @ 2:36 am
Outstanding!! I can't wait for the tutorial!
July 5th, 2010 @ 2:40 am
HEY ANDREW ITS REALLY A NICE ONE HERE. the colour correction is cool. thanks hope a tutotial come out of this. Oras from....NIGERIA
July 5th, 2010 @ 2:43 am
@AK and folks:
Also, you like that kind of people, who don't even bothering to read AK's posts or other comments, have so many annoying questions, like: "Is this a coming tutorial?", "where did you get the street footage?" and the worst "How do we do the smoke in the top pic of new york.". It's a website people! With pictures, videos and great tutorials for those who can't read, or are just dull. Measure twice, cut once...It's a wise saw in my country(Czech Rep.)

P.s.: @AK u r great just stay in this way. Thank's for feeding us with this stuff. Looking forward for upcomming tut. And...get some rest man (after posting new tut naturally)!

U r fan
July 5th, 2010 @ 2:44 am
I had to give it a go too :D

I even applied some directional shadows for good measure. I am not sure if this is anywhere close to how Andrew made his shadows, but seems to work ok.

(If you look at the right side of the frame, you can see the shadows clipping off. That's the edge of the shadow map and should give you a clue how these shadows are made.)
July 5th, 2010 @ 3:16 am
I like how barely anyone in these comments can actually do any work themselves, all they use is tutorials. I hope they're hobbyists and are not actually on the payroll somewhere.
July 5th, 2010 @ 3:37 am
hey Andrew. looks amazing and totally real. when comes the tutorial for it? i can't wait to learn it ;) and thousands of other people too ;)
July 5th, 2010 @ 4:17 am
Is there a chamce for a Plug In / Preset?
Best Regards!
July 5th, 2010 @ 4:28 am
Yep, I'm (still) a hobbyist. Got to start somewhere, and this seems like a gooood place :-)

Thank you mr. Kramer for all the work you have done for us. You, and, are an amazing example of knowledge-sharing by internet. Wish more people like you would stand up.
Amarjit Singh
July 5th, 2010 @ 4:41 am
Andrew, its awesome plz upload the tutorial asap
July 5th, 2010 @ 4:48 am
Great stuff! Really looking forward to this.

Ohh and when is the glass shatter from Payment Plan tutorial being released?
July 5th, 2010 @ 5:05 am
i love the color of your street !!
July 5th, 2010 @ 5:29 am
I'm thinking about the use of the 3d features in Photoshop with this technique and thinking there are some rather exciting ways to use this.
July 5th, 2010 @ 6:23 am
Really Andrew, this is really interesting. I remember in one of the posts you made last week, you made it quite clear the difficulty of rendering a 3D image, in programs like 3D Max, and personally I agree with you because even for those who don't have a VGA good enough that process becomes terribly boring :D. Without doubt apply the shadow effect dynamics give a very realistic tone to the footage, and with the ease of rendering in AE some projects may be conducted with much more harmony, and of course for those who have more affinity with After going to leave happy with this new technique. Congratulations for the post Andrew!
July 5th, 2010 @ 7:42 am
if i have lots of flying sheep can it still make shadows for them?
July 5th, 2010 @ 7:54 am
looks sick man! the reflection on the car sort of gives it away tho, see if you can incorporate that in some way, but lookin great good job mate!
July 5th, 2010 @ 8:22 am
I can't wait for the TUT, because this technique will be a REAL alternative to a 3D rendering. Of course it won't be as accurate as a 3D render setup, but so often neither the production time nor the budget allow us to do it in the most accurate way.
Andrew, you are simply awsome!!! Best greetings from Germany
July 5th, 2010 @ 8:24 am
Wow ... thats breathtaking ....
July 5th, 2010 @ 8:29 am
so how did you create these amazing shadows? is it a big secret for the next tutorial? :)
July 5th, 2010 @ 9:15 am
Looks fantastic. Great idea to use AE and Particular for this kind of work... Looking forward for the tutorial :-)

And hey, your next AE Plug-In will be a particle system á la Video Copilot? I would love to see it!
July 5th, 2010 @ 9:17 am
Can't wait for the tutorial
Armando Gomez
July 5th, 2010 @ 9:19 am
Thanks again! thats awesome Andrew! cool cool stuff.
July 5th, 2010 @ 9:33 am
Thank you Andrew. I did understand what you meant from the last post but do enjoy seeing more examples :)
Next Level Designs
July 5th, 2010 @ 9:52 am
hey, im seeing all these shadow casting posts here andrew and im wondering ... after effects isnt a full 3d program but it does hand sum basic amount ... is there any way we can use a light to cast a shadow but take off the light and leave the casted shadow? also ... cant we use the plug in from video copilot VC Reflect and play around with that using sum curves adjustments and so forth and make a dynamic shadow based on movement? wouldnt that be easier to do and faster to render with maybe even nicer results based on the customization?
July 5th, 2010 @ 10:21 am
------> too hard to do

by the way i think that you should use after effects for 3d things 3d max takes time but it is better resolution don't you agree??
July 5th, 2010 @ 10:45 am
I hope nobody got hurt, those balls look kind of dangerous...
July 5th, 2010 @ 11:12 am
Hi andrew and guys!
interesting discussion. but my visit is for another reason.
I just want to show you this comp I made for my job.
I wasn´t aware of what puppet tool was capable of, but I started testing and here is the result... every animal of this comp was animated using that tool.

Greetings from argentina!!!!
Vamooooooo la albicelesteeee a pesar de que nos quedamos afuera del mundial.
July 5th, 2010 @ 11:49 am
this is juste Amazin Again Andrew your simpli the best
July 5th, 2010 @ 12:21 pm
i think i know that trick now. not as perfect and pretty as andrews but...
July 5th, 2010 @ 12:37 pm
Wow! is there gonna be a tutorial?
July 5th, 2010 @ 12:42 pm
@JIK... Where do you get off ripping me a new one?!?! If you bothered to read MY post, you would have seen that I was politely pointing something out, NOT trying to rip on something. Please, get over yourself and take another Valium. What part of "I think it is a really great render, but as much detail as you pay to things…" confuses you? Goodness, way to ruin a picnic there JIK. Amazing that in this day and age you can't say a crit about something, without someone feeling like their Cheerios were peed in... stinking politically correct garbage of a society. Grumble, mumble... grrrrrrr.
July 5th, 2010 @ 12:49 pm
this is awesome
check out this video my friends made
July 5th, 2010 @ 12:57 pm
thats a new level!
July 5th, 2010 @ 1:48 pm
Hey andrew can you please release that awesome ball object, as a .obj file for us cause that looks awesome!
July 5th, 2010 @ 1:54 pm
wow, awesome, thrilling never seen something like that before....! *sighs* Andrews work ist really good (bows head) but not every piece of it is always "awesome".
do me a favour guys lower your absolute superlatives just a little bit. otherwise you people will run out of words sooner or later.
July 5th, 2010 @ 2:01 pm
Nice technique.. just hope its not a complicated technique
July 5th, 2010 @ 2:21 pm
@everyone who keeps asking for tutorials on everything.
Look through Andrew's previous tutorials, there's a lot of information there. If he hasn't already posted it, take the time to figure it out yourself. Andrew has already done a ton for us, appreciate him a little more.

This is really interesting work you've done here. It's great to see that this can be done inside of AE, though it's still probably best to be done in a real 3D app. Thanks for posting your discoveries!
July 5th, 2010 @ 2:24 pm
how come that dude walking on the sidewalk isn't even phased by the trail of smoke rushing down the street? that guy is hard core
July 5th, 2010 @ 2:35 pm
Hey! The car is not reflecting the elements!
:) Just kidding. Awesome job.
July 5th, 2010 @ 3:04 pm
whass up?? by the way i am destroing a house with after effects (action essential 2) and i will show you the results :D
July 5th, 2010 @ 3:06 pm
The particles don't reflect each other!
July 5th, 2010 @ 3:55 pm
Nice. the lighting on the smoke looks should use that example in the tutorial. Looking forward to it!
July 5th, 2010 @ 4:05 pm
Um, no. Sorry. I've lived in NY all my life and I've never seen balls fall from the sky that looked like those. Except back in '67, as those of us who were there can tell you.
July 5th, 2010 @ 4:23 pm
hahaha didnt know they had cameras that good in 1967.
July 5th, 2010 @ 5:49 pm
hey everyone this might not be the best place to ask this, but here goes; how do i set up scene like the particles with no background, as in, have a floor to cast shadows on, and still have "walls" the same color? i know theres the set up andrew uses for the text in 3ds max and cinema4d but what if i want to do a 360 turn, that wont, work.. i basically need half a sphere with a flat bottom?
July 5th, 2010 @ 5:55 pm
So, from looking at the balls, it now seems like you can use a 3D particle, and Particular will actually rotate it? I didn't know that. What form does the particle have to take then?

Or, have you got a number of the ball images at different rotations and used those in a staggered-layer pre-comp?

And nice job. It's good to see that you also think of something you want to be able to do, and then work at it until you find how to do it. Pity there's no site like Video CoPilot for Andrew Kramer to get most of his answers from like the rest of us!
July 5th, 2010 @ 6:42 pm
Hey R U Posting a tutorial on this post...... and what about advace time freez tutorial.....
July 6th, 2010 @ 12:39 am
@kmkenpo Well, I just like to follow the discussion on these blogs, and as I said, I just pointed out that this post was about 'dynamic shadows' and Andrew specifically made this post because people started arguing over reflections in his last blog post. I remember a while back when he posted his light casting tutorial, everybody started pointing out unnecessary things. And sorry for 'ripping you a new one', if you got the impression of me being a 14 year old punching the keyboard and yelling at the screen, that wasn't my intention :p
Manoj(The Friend)
July 6th, 2010 @ 12:53 am
Great work, please upload this tute. thanks Andrew
July 6th, 2010 @ 1:08 am
Those spheres look like the personality spheres from the Portal/Portal 2.
July 6th, 2010 @ 6:46 am
but I dont see eny reflection on the Car.
so what's up to this solution ???
Mike Park
July 6th, 2010 @ 7:39 am
Not exactly sure what approach AK took...will be interested to find out. Here is a clip of the result of my approach:
I was interested in the concept and had to give it a go.
July 6th, 2010 @ 7:42 am
Hi Andrew, thanks for your fabulous tutorials! Can you show us, how to make this hollow balls please ? On 3D studio max i think ?
Quite awesome
July 6th, 2010 @ 8:04 am
Quite cool! I really like that smoke! Tutorial please...
July 6th, 2010 @ 8:37 am
@JIK Thank you for the clarification of your post and how it applied to me.
Have a blessed day,
July 6th, 2010 @ 9:33 am
Thank you Andrew... I hope that this is coz of my comments =D (I reaaally hope) ;D

Still, I believe that this would be a better example of what the tutorial can be used for. That other example... wasn't good, well by the standards around here, it wasn't... if you took it to a completely new site like... (not advertising, it's a lame site) it would be good =D
July 6th, 2010 @ 9:35 am
One has to be a total genius to figure out stuff in After Effects like you do Kramer. You manage to surprise your fans every time. Totally amazing!
July 6th, 2010 @ 9:42 am
Can you do a tut on this plzzzzzzzz this is EPIC!!!!!!
July 6th, 2010 @ 9:47 am
This is going to be an awesome Tut!
July 6th, 2010 @ 11:07 am
kmkenpo has a point although it would all depend on the material the "balls" were made out of. if they're some sort of plastic then its all good =)
July 6th, 2010 @ 11:08 am
oh and ppl stop asking him to put this up there. he has the smoke trails tutorial. take what you make move it on a different background and replace the particles. there is your tutorial. =)
July 6th, 2010 @ 12:18 pm
Hi Andrew Kramer. U r work is superb

U know i am a big fan of u and u r work

when i have visited u r website that day on words i don`t have single day without VIDEO

thq sooooooooooooooooooooooooo much for tutorials and u r support thq thq
July 6th, 2010 @ 1:25 pm
Hi, Andrew! That about Final Gather, Global Illumination and Ambient Occlusion in AE? :))
July 6th, 2010 @ 1:44 pm
hey hey....Thank you Andrew...Awesome
July 6th, 2010 @ 1:45 pm
Mike Park,
Your falling Matzah Balls look terrific!
Wonder how the shadows would look falling into a bowl of chicken broth!?!!
July 6th, 2010 @ 1:57 pm
the broken glass tutorial should....never come...
Nilo Santiago
July 6th, 2010 @ 3:03 pm
Hi Andrew,

I would like to thank you for your comments and tutorials, they are very helpful and turn us more passionate with After Effects.

Question for you:
When you do your tutorial most of the videos has 15 seconds or less, so I would like to know if you create a motion graphic presentation with 2 minutes do you split the video in small parts and put them together with some software or you just do one video with the hole thing ?

English is my second language, so sorry about any mistake!
July 6th, 2010 @ 11:14 pm
tutorial on how to make those hollow balls? i think its necessary ;)
July 7th, 2010 @ 12:15 am

You can find them on

@ Andrew Kramer

Cool stuff man! Can't wait for the tut
July 7th, 2010 @ 12:43 am
Hmm...I think that some people should read first and than ask..but we're not living in perfect world do we?
July 7th, 2010 @ 12:46 am
Will be there a tut...just joking;p
July 7th, 2010 @ 7:08 am
Can't wait for the tutorial!
Mike Park
July 7th, 2010 @ 8:03 am

Thanks. Not sure I was going for Matzah Balls, but thanks.
July 7th, 2010 @ 10:56 am
Hey Andrew I was looking on YouTube and I found this dude that I guess made this stuff, can you give a more in-depth tutorial on how to do this type stuff.
July 7th, 2010 @ 11:36 am
Not sure if you can do this only within AE buddy...looks like FumeFX plugin for Autodesk 3ds Max...maybe with the same technique used in green smoke tut but with lots of particular layers...and spending much time with "unnecessary" adjustment..if you really want it to look hyper-realistic and and want to avoid the 3d...burn your house or barn and take a this case share it after..thx:)
July 7th, 2010 @ 12:01 pm
heyyy Niceee imageee
July 7th, 2010 @ 12:03 pm
@Ravens666 I did that and I uploading the footage it right now to YouTube thanks for the help! :) jk!
July 7th, 2010 @ 2:15 pm
On which camera did you make the shot?
July 7th, 2010 @ 2:31 pm
Hey wait a minute....did anyone else notice that the tutorial was online for about 5 minutes and then both the blog post announcing it's arrival and the actual tutorial are removed? Was there an uploading problem?
July 7th, 2010 @ 2:44 pm
I watched the complete tutorial and need to see it again, but it dissapeared!
July 7th, 2010 @ 2:44 pm
We had some technical difficulties, the tutorial will be online shortly.
July 7th, 2010 @ 2:50 pm
Oh ok. Thanks Andrew. Can't wait to see it!
July 7th, 2010 @ 3:31 pm
@_@ I can't wait anymore!
July 7th, 2010 @ 3:40 pm
Do be do be do.......Hmm. Must be some serious technical difficulties, then?
July 7th, 2010 @ 4:01 pm
NEW TUTORIAL: Particle Shadows, 1 hour ago? 404 error
July 7th, 2010 @ 4:02 pm
Would this particular technique work with Particular 1.5? (see what I did there?)
July 7th, 2010 @ 6:52 pm
In the smoke trail example, what was done to create the optical flare of the trail?
July 8th, 2010 @ 6:14 pm
is Awesome , maybbe you can get more quality using Vray as render in 3ds max
Moin Shahid
July 9th, 2010 @ 3:20 am
Really Man !!! You're Awesome..........
July 12th, 2010 @ 2:48 am
yeah man...but you didn't post the link...I can't find that on youtube...U SOB (...just joking;p)
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