17 Mar
2008

shadow catcher c4d

Shadow Catcher plugin in Cinema 4D

What does the shadow catcher plugin allow?

Here is the scenario, we have a 3D character walking across the floor while casting a shadow. We want to composite this with an image in photoshop. Using shadow catcher we can render the character and shadow (with alpha) without the floor. Very useful.

Before starting… I had been searching for ages to try and find the C4D ShadowCatcher plugin. Luckily after pages and pages I finally managed to track it down back in 2008. So for this tutorial you can download it from this site (It’s FREE). It has been tested in Cinema 4D R9 through to R15.

DOWNLOAD: ShadowCatcher for C4D

 Step 1.

First quit C4D if it is running.

 Step 2.

Then unzip the download and place it in the C4D plugins folder (Should be found in the same directory as the application)

MAC = Applications/MAXON/plugins/ShadowCatcher.cob

or

PC = C:/program files/MAXON/plugins/ShadowCatcher.cob

 Step 3.

Now start C4D.

 Step 4.

Lets create a scene and place a box hovering over a plane.

c4d shadow catcher tutorial - Picture 1

c4d shadow catcher tutorial - Picture 2

 Step 5.

Then add a light with a target.

c4d shadow catcher tutorial - Picture 3

 Step 6.

Choose the ‘General‘ settings tab and change the following, ‘Type‘ to ‘Omni‘ and ‘Shadow‘ to ‘Shadow Maps (Soft)‘.

c4d shadow catcher tutorial - Picture 4

 Step 7.

Lets do a quick render…

c4d shadow catcher tutorial - Picture 5

 Step 8.

Now apply a new material to the plain (this is what we want to act as our shadow catcher).

c4d shadow catcher tutorial - Picture 6

c4d shadow catcher tutorial - Picture 7

 Step 9.

In the new material editor change the properties by unselecting everything except the alpha. NOTE: You may also want to check the transparency if you want to composite the shadow on a background image/video because by default it will be a pure black shadow.

c4d shadow catcher tutorial - Picture 8

 Step 10.

In the alpha properties, click the down arrow next to texture and choose ‘Shadow Catcher‘ (it should be near the bottom). You will also have to select ‘Invert‘ option. If done correctly the material preview should be transparent.

c4d shadow catcher tutorial - Picture 9

 Step 11.

Now lets go to the Render/render settings.

c4d shadow catcher tutorial - Picture 10

 Step 12.

Now depending on which version of C4D the popup window will have a slightly different layout but the options are similar. So choose the ‘Anti-Aliasing‘ option and change ‘Anti-Aliasing‘ to ‘Best‘.

c4d shadow catcher tutorial - Picture 11

 Step 13.

In the ‘Save‘ tab, check the ‘Alpha Channel‘ (The important bit!).

c4d shadow catcher tutorial - Picture 12

 Step 14.

Choose one of the following:

1. If using in After Effects render as tiff frames and use the import tiff frames option in After Effects.

2. If using in Photoshop render the frame as a png format which will allow the transparency to appear straight away.

c4d shadow catcher tutorial - Picture 13

We’re done!

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Written by me@grafxflow

I am a freelance designer and developer of all things web - from CSS3 bootstrap responsive layouts through to WordPress and MVC CodeIgniter. I blog and tweet to hopefully share a little bit of knowledge that can help others around the web. Thanks for stopping by!

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Posted in: <Cinema 4D>

45 Thoughts on "Shadow Catcher plugin in Cinema 4D"

  1. 28 Nov
    2012

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    Alvaro Alvarado

    Excelente plugin thanks for the support

  2. 28 Nov
    2012

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    me@grafxflow

    Glad to help

  3. 28 Nov
    2012

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    LmWolfSpirit

    Thank you. I am just learning C4D, and this looks like it will be very helpful.

  4. 27 Jan
    2013

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    adam

    help!
    r13 OR r14 can’t work…

  5. 27 Jan
    2013

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    me@grafxflow

    I have used it in C4D R13 and it works perfectly. What is the exact problem you are having?

  6. 12 Feb
    2013

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    Paul

    Any way of making this work with Sketch & Toon enabled? It just renders the plane with a full, solid white alpha. I’ve got it working fine without sketch & toon.

  7. 12 Feb
    2013

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    me@grafxflow

    I am not sure if this will work with Sketch & Toon enabled or if it’s even possible at all.

    Maybe try:

    1. A render without Sketch & Toon active, but shadow catcher and save the alpha.
    2. A render using Sketch & Toon active.
    3. Then use the shadow catcher alpha over the Sketch & Toon render.

  8. 12 Feb
    2013

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    Paul

    Aha – found the solution: I just excluded the plane from rendering by putting it in:

    Render Settings > Sketch and Toon > Render > Mode: Exclude

    The shadow still rendered on the alpha correctly.

  9. 12 Feb
    2013

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    Paul

    Wow – what a lightning fast reply! Thanks for your suggestions!
    – Paul

  10. 12 Feb
    2013

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    me@grafxflow

    It seems your solutions better and easier, thanks for sharing it.

    Solution is in message below…

  11. 12 Feb
    2013

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    Paul

    The only thing that now remains is how to anti-alias the shadow. Everything in the alpha channel has lovely smooth edges, apart from the shadow. Very odd.

  12. 12 Feb
    2013

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    me@grafxflow

    Have you set the Anti-Aliasing to best?
    Just did a test render using your solution and looked okay in photoshop.

  13. 12 Feb
    2013

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    Paul

    I want to have hard-edged shadows, so used the Raytraced (Hard) option. When I use soft shadows, it looks fine. But I’ve just tried Area shadows, and that gives me a fairly hard-edged shadow, nicely anti-aliased and doesn’t take long to render.

  14. 12 Feb
    2013

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    me@grafxflow

    Try using an ‘infinite’ light for rendering the ‘Raytraced (hard)’ shadow.

    And in the ‘Sketch and Toon’ settings choose the ‘Shading’ tab and set ‘Background’ to ‘Off’.

  15. 25 Feb
    2013

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    Andy

    Does this work with GI cant get it too work.

  16. 25 Feb
    2013

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    me@grafxflow

    This plugging is meant for use with any of the built in C4D lights (Spot, Infinite etc) which is capable of casting shadows.

  17. 27 Feb
    2013

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    Tom Stracke

    Hi!! Great plugin !!! 🙂 but GI Shadows appears not to work. There is a workaround? thx in adv!!

  18. 8 Mar
    2013

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    Muhamed

    My friend, it doesn’t work with GI.
    Can anybody help me with it?
    Even when i use one of the greyscalegorilla’s studio lights, it appears not to work :SS
    PS: thanks for the plugin 🙂

  19. 10 Mar
    2013

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    Mack

    Hi, i have the same problem, doesn’t work with GI, i’m also rendering an EXR multi-pass file and the show pass is also empty.
    Thnx for the plugin

  20. 10 Mar
    2013

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    Mack

    *Shadow pass

  21. 7 Aug
    2013

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    Youandi

    Works really nice using HDRI with flat floors to generate shadows, saves you some photoshop time

  22. 20 Nov
    2013

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    Josh P

    Great plugin. Would be amazing if you could get AO to translate also.

  23. 3 Dec
    2013

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    Marko Radak

    The only downside is that my render is never fully transparent – it always have a bit of the opacity, about 4-5%

    Anyway to fix this?

  24. 6 Dec
    2013

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    me@grafxflow

    Does the texture that contains the transparent shadow still have ‘specular’ selected?

  25. 23 Jan
    2014

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    Gokhan

    Hi,firstly thank you very much for great plugin but I have a problem about Physical Render in R15…
    maybe my mistake but I can’t correct result with Physical Render?
    do you have an idea?
    Thanks mate.

  26. 23 Jan
    2014

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    me@grafxflow

    Hi Gokhan,

    I am not sure what the issue is? Can you go into more detail.

    cheers
    Paul

  27. 19 Aug
    2014

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    Teemu

    Is it possible to export with shadow catcher also normal alpha channel without shadows? Or do i need to render image with shadow catcher and without to get bot alpha channels?
    Thanks for the answer!

  28. 19 Aug
    2014

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    me@grafxflow

    I am not sure if I totally understand you correctly, but maybe you could add a ‘Compositing Tag’ to each object then in the ‘Object Buffer’ tab give each its own individual number. Also make sure to do a multi-pass render then add each ‘Object Buffer’. This should work for after effects.

  29. 21 Aug
    2014

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    Daryl

    I just wanted to say thank you for such a great plugin and an even better user friendly instruction. I really like your style overall on everything you do. Great work. Thank You.

  30. 21 Aug
    2014

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    me@grafxflow

    Always glad to help.

  31. 26 Aug
    2014

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    Teemu

    Thanks grafxflow, for suggestion was right, thanks for the help!
    And thanks for the plugin, it helped me to get one image done easier..

  32. 22 Oct
    2014

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    Alpha_editor

    Nice Plug-in! I have an issue. I am in C4d R16. I can get the plugin to render fine in the “Standard” renderer. When I switch to the “Physical” Renderer the shadow is a “no show”. I have tried all forms of compositing tags, etc. Nothing in the physical renderer is coming through. As soon as I switch to Standard render all works exactly as it should. I am compositing in AE CC 2014 via png sequences. Do you have a work around for this issue?

  33. 22 Oct
    2014

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    me@grafxflow

    Unfortunately it doesn’t work with renders using physical/global illumination. I had somebody else with the same problem in a previous comment so to solve it…

    The best way to go is to do add a ‘Compositing Tag’ to each object then in the ‘Object Buffer’ tab give each its own individual number. Also make sure to do a multi-pass render then add each ‘Object Buffer’. This should work for after effects.

    Hope it helps or gives you are starting point.

  34. 9 Feb
    2015

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    mauro

    Hi, thank a lot…

    I have a problem with Cineware layers.
    I can’t get it to work. Am I doing something wrong?

    Cheerss

  35. 10 Feb
    2015

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    me@grafxflow

    Hi Mauro,

    From what I understand Cineware relates to importing C4D files direct into After Effects. So I am unsure if Shadow Catcher will still be able to work this way.

  36. 12 Oct
    2015

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    Vincent

    This works really well but It isn’t completely transparent when rendering to a png using the picture frame. How do I make it completely transparent?

  37. 12 Oct
    2015

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    me@grafxflow

    Does the shadow catcher texture have everything unchecked apart from the alpha?

  38. 2 Dec
    2015

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    Oleg

    I can’t dowload plugin by link: http://www.grafxflow.co.uk/download/9089/

  39. 2 Dec
    2015

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    me@grafxflow

    Hi Oleg,

    I have tested the link and it’s working fine. What browser are you using?

  40. 23 Dec
    2015

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    Geoffrey

    I’m using R16. When I set everything as you laid out (Really great step-by-step) I can’t get it to work. When I have the plane on with no material it worked and the shadows were there. When I applied the material according to your instructions, the plane is black and not accepting any shadows.

    Thanks!

  41. 23 Dec
    2015

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    Geoffrey

    One more thing, I using cineware, but the shadows are not showing up in C4D.

  42. 26 Dec
    2015

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    me@grafxflow

    Hi Geoffrey,

    Are you using something like Global Illumination in the advanced render settings?

  43. 2 Jan
    2016

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    Mauro

    Hey, this is what I get… its like the borders of the shadow are showing the plane

  44. 2 Jan
    2016

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    me@grafxflow

    Hi Mauro,

    What version of C4D are you using?

    Plus do you have a screen shot of your render settings?

  45. 4 Mar
    2016

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    Nick D

    I often need to render out simple animations as PNGs with transparent backgrounds so that I can create sprite sheets out of them. So far this plug-in is the ONLY thing that works for me, so thanks so much for making it available! The other methods of shadow catching from C4D always seem to require compositing OVER something else using multiply afterwards, but I need to deliver images with transparency included in them.

    Unfortunately the render times are killing me — it takes hours to render things that normally would take minutes. Do you have any tips for speeding up rendering with this plug-in? I’m thinking maybe if I do two passes – one for the object and one for the shadow, both with transparent backgrounds – I might be able to tweak the settings for the shadow pass to disable anything that’s not needed. I will try a few things, but I’m wondering if you have any tips. Thanks again!

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