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The Shader group plays an important role in the appearance of the geometry and it responds to After Effects lights and cameras.
Each Shader option has an optimal combination with certain Material settings and Blend modes, and we suggest those combinations below. Other settings can be used, of course, if a certain look is desired.
NOTE: When Shader is set to Density, Diffuse Softness, Specular, and Shininess in the Material & Lighting group are disabled, and Density Affect and Normal Affect in the Rendering group are enabled.
There are seven Draw modes:
The Blend pop-up menu determines how overlapping polygons are blended together. There are four Blend modes:
The DepthBuf pop-up menu sets the depth buffer to On or Off. By default it is set to On, which means that pixels at a nearer distance get drawn over pixels at a further distance. This usually creates better results when using Ambient Occlusion. Setting this to Off can alleviate issues with overlapping geometry, and typically creates better results when Shader is set to Density.
Normal Affect changes the way materials are viewed when seen at an angle. At higher values, the more the material is facing the camera, the more transparent it becomes. This can be used to mimic the way a thin material would behave. Adjusting the Amplitude in combination with this control to create an interesting 'x-ray' look. It is only active when Shader is set to Density.
The Second Pass pop-up menu allows you to add a wireframe overlay to your geometry. The wireframe becomes enabled by changing the pop-up menu from Off (default) to Wireframe. This also enables two other parameters (SP Line Size and SP Color) which allow you to customize the look of the wireframe overlay. Use SP Line Size to change the size of the wireframe lines when the Second Pass wireframe is turned on. Use SP Color to change the color of the Second Pass wireframe. Click the color swatch to open the color picker to select a color, or click the eyedropper to sample a color from your scene.
Ambient Occlusion Ambient occlusion (AO) provides non-directional shadowing of inset polygons that are obscured by the mesh around it, which is useful to add depth. AO is most obvious in the creases of the geometry. All modes except Off take the same amount of time to render. When set to Off, there will be no AO on the mesh, which reduces VRAM usage and increases render speed.
The Ambient Occlusion pop-up menu has five modes:
NOTE: If you plan to enable Depth of Field you'll need to have Ambient Occlusion On.
AO Intensity controls the strength of AO. Turn up the AO Intensity to add strength to the Ambient Occlusion and darken the shaded areas. Keeping the AO Intensity low can prevent banding issues while still adding a dimension of depth, so it should be kept at the smallest acceptable value to reduce artifacts and noise.
Changing AO Radius will affect the size of the AO effect. The higher the value the larger the shadow, which tends to spread out and diffuse the shadow. The AO Radius is the one exception under these controls and works best when set at a higher number.
AO Lift can reduce self-occlusion and other artifacts by “lifting” the AO off of the surface. The AO Lift control can also be used to brighten the shadows. Lowering AO Lift all the way down to 0 may create self occlusion, so this control should be kept at 0.2 or higher to avoid this.