The Shadow Catcher

Guest host Joren Kandel demonstrates how to use the Shadow Catcher plug-in in Cinema 4D for more realistic composites in After Effects. Get the Plug-in

  1. BEMO

    Thanks Joren … I stopped using the shadow catcher because I ran into HUGE render issues on animations….. they where taking forever even on my fast tower. Have you experienced this at all? Any suggestions?

  2. Fernando Sucre

    wow..very useful plugin and tutorial ..thanx alot

  3. Ryan Ragle

    This is a great tip! It completely beats the way i’ve been doing it:

    1. tagging everything except the floor into an object buffer
    2. Make white material, set to floor, add compositing tag, set check “on” compositing background
    3. setting up multi-pass in renderer, add shadow and other passes
    4. make new comp in AE that subtracts object buffer of objects from floor shadow render pass
    5. Comp shadow layer in and wonder why you did all that work.

    Thank you for sharing!

  4. Joren Kandel

    Haha, glad you don’t have to go through all those steps from now on, Ryan! 🙂 Thanks for checking out the video. Cheers, Joren

  5. Benjamin Eshagpoor

    I love that it catches the shadows, but I find that I also need the ambient occlusion as well as reflections in a lot of the work that I do. Wish there was a similar plugin that would allow for AO catching and reflection catching. :o(

    • Stephen

      It’s called multipass

  6. 3dhero

    Hi folks!!
    thanks Joren Kandel from pixellab!!!!!!
    Just one question: does it works with C4D 12 version?

  7. Joren Kandel

    Yes, it does work with C4D R12, that’s what I’m running and it works great!

  8. Joren Kandel

    BEMO, yes, I agree, you will definitely take a render hit with this plugin. It has to scan the entire area of the viewport now, even portions that should be pure black/alpha have to be scanned slowly during render. So, be careful and do some tests if you have a tight deadline! If not, I think it’s worth it to render overnight and get a nice result with less compositing work.

  9. Simon

    Alternatively you can use mutlipass and render shadow AO plasses so you have more control in post. But this is a good solution for simple and easy renders


  10. Agustin

    Agree with Simon here,

    Multipass is the way to go, and it’s the best way to composite CG Footage on top of live plates. Sure it will take a litte more time to setup, and to comp, but the results and the control you have is way more powerful.

    Cinema will even save you a pre-project where everything is already layered correctly with the right blending modes.


  11. Joren Kandel

    I think that’s the beauty of C4D, there are so many different ways to do things depending on your situation! I agree with you, this is a good way for quick and easy shadows but if you want more control, then taking the time to set it up with multi-passes is the way to go…

  12. McCabe

    I cant seem to get it to work, The only thing It could be is I am running r12? anyone out there do results from r12?

  13. McCabe

    On further experimentation it seems to be mograph stuff it has problems soon as something is in a cloner obj/fracture obj etc it just turns out all black

  14. Joren Kandel

    Hey McCabe, really not sure what’s going on. I run r12 and have had not problems with it. I also just tried it with a mograph object and it works fine on my machine. Very strange! Sorry I can’t be of more help…

  15. Kwaku Nyantekyi

    I would use multipass rendering so I have more control in after effects but it’s definitely cool to have another option.

  16. ciaran

    Used this procedure some months back on a handful of titles took a while to work out what I was doing but came in really handy, especially with multipass as Kwaku mentioned. If anybody’s interested, have a quick peep at the first 15 seconds of – or not, as the case may be!

  17. Zeyd Ayoob

    If anyone is still having issues with shadowcatcher giving all black results remember the following:

    Sometimes ( all the time? ) you have to tick the INVERT option in the alpha settings for the shadowcatcher material. Also it relies on transparency, so if you have any objects ( skydome, HDR map sphere, etc ), make sure you apply a compositing tag and disable transparency.

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