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Dear Mavericks,

First of all, we wish you the best in this very hard times, where we must all act responsibly to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and by extension everyone else. Over here, we are trying our best to keep working under as much normality as we can.

Last week, we released new builds of Maverick Studio and Maverick Indie, with plenty of improvements in the composing features of the engine. Here is the changelog.

Compositing is one of the most sought after features in many of the support emails that we receive. Many of our users render appliances, jewelry items, … that later are composited onto a website, a brochure, or photo-edited in one way or another. We have made a strong effort to improve or complete Maverick’s capabilities in those areas, and we have recorded few videos covering all that you need to know in order to do compositing in your own projects successfully.

To complement these videos we have decided to start a mini-series of two or three blog posts talking about some additional technical details.

Shadow Catcher

Let’s begin with the improvements in our Shadow Catcher solution.

The Shadow Catcher feature allows you to capture on a surface (e.g., a floor) the shadows cast by your model. The shadow_catcher node is actually a material that you typically apply on a floor plane. Actually, our library provides many pre-made floors and ambiences that make use of a Shadow Catcher.

The Shadow Catcher outputs shadows in the Alpha AOV, so you can take the model out to Photoshop or any other app and integrate your render (with shadows) on whichever background that you need.

This video tutorial will give you a tour on the basics:

Here is a collection of the type of great-looking results that you can achieve using a Shadow Catcher. These are animated gifs with a self-explanatory title in each frame:

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In the latest build, besides reviewing/improving the Shadow Catcher, we have added some new features. In particular, now light sources may “affect” (or not) the Shadow Catcher. When a light is set to affect the SC, it will behave normally, treating the floor as a regular surface, and thus catching light. When a light is set to not affect the SC, the floor will capture shadows but will stay with the same color/power otherwise.

This feature is wonderful in order to achieve renders where a flat color background stays flat-colored, while still capturing shadows.

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This example is particularly clarifying. Adding more lights correctly illuminates the model, and correspondingly casts shadows. But the blue background stays constant:

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Thanks for watching, and stay safe!