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Best way to achieve nuanced hard shadow?

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I'm looking to create a very simple lighting setup with a hard shadow like this:

 

tumblr_ns8lrrEBJE1s4glmao1_500.gif

 

The consensus online seems to be to create this using infinite light. But when using infinite light and a hard shadow, the shadow has no variation in density. In other words, the shadow is too simple. How can I maintain the hard shadow, but add other subtle lighting touches like a soft gradient along the depth of the shadow?

 

Thanks

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Hard shadows do respond as shadows in the real world do; that is to say their effect is negated / diminished via the use of other light (be that bounced or directional), so that is how you would get a gradient into the shadow. The question remains 'how can we do that in Cinema ?' 

I would be interested to see if we could use GI and reflected light from the tube to fade off the raytraced shadow accurately, presumably as a result of bounced light from the inner surface of the tube. But here's a quick fake that illustrates the principal....

 

Here I have a directional light with its hard shadow, which has a gradient because it is being faded off by the (non-shadow casting) omni light I've put in proximity to it.

 

 975240635_raytracedshadowlighteffect.jpg.313bcbb98b7138076a8d7040849b59f5.jpg 

 

CBR

 

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