After discovering an interesting way to cast shadows from Particles in After Effects I started thinking how it compares with a 3D program… One main concern was render speeds: 3D max took about 20 seconds per frame and After Effects took around 1 second but there may be other things to consider…
-Depth of field renders faster
-Output quality previewing while editing (instead of 3d viewports)
-May still need a 3D program to create the sprites
-Shadows work best with round or soft type particle types
-Shadow trick requires extra setup
-Quickly Control Shadows look from soft to hard
– More accurate shadows
– No shadow layer setup (although AE shadows only take a couple min. to setup)
-Real 3D objects offer better reflections and self-shadows
-Access to more physics influence like deflectors etc.
-Good if you have other 3D Objects requirements for your scene
-With GI, complex scenes can get exponentially slower to render
Bottom line is there are good reasons to use both methods and depending on your project requirements or software limitations, you might be able to save some time or improve your results. Particle shadow tutorial coming soon.