I have a scene (add / scene) in my VSE, and I made the lights and shadow to match those of the background footage. Now what would be the best way/strategy/approach to hide the plane, only retaining the shadow?

PS - The plane has the basic "new" material for now ; I'll make adjustments later, I just want to know if what I want to achieve is possible..?

Drop shadow

EDIT: YES, I know you can use an image as the background/drop of a 3d scene, but this is not what I'm trying to do at all, thank you very much. EDIT2: Apparently, it is simply not possible. The "only shadows" material checkbox of Blender Internal didn't make it into cycles. I guess it was too handy, intuitive and straightforward ;p

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Ypu need what is called a shadow catcher read the following links: blender.stackexchange.com/questions/518/… and blender.stackexchange.com/questions/19765/… and blender.stackexchange.com/questions/14898/… $\endgroup$
    – user1853
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 12:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Firstly, yes it is possible. There is a video made by Blender Guru that thoroughly goes through this topic of removing such plane and keeping the shadows. Link to video: Click here $\endgroup$
    – Nils Eisen
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 13:17
  • $\begingroup$ Wow, I knew it would be complex, but... Everything revolves around an "env texture" ("Environmetal (Equirectangular) HDRi texture, the same texture used for World") image that is not included..? Can't reproduce the example without this file..? $\endgroup$
    – yPhil
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 13:21
  • $\begingroup$ It was so simple and intuitive to do in Blender Internal ;( $\endgroup$
    – yPhil
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 14:14
  • $\begingroup$ All those 3 answers are unreproducible. $\endgroup$
    – yPhil
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 14:35

2 Answers 2


As of Version 2.79 Cycles has an option to make an object a shadow catcher.

enter image description here

From the release notes

This option will make object to only receive shadows in a way that it could be alpha-overed onto another image.


I'm aware you don't want to use the 3D stage, but consider this..

If what we see there is all you need, why not do it in the 3D window, using that backdrop photo/video as the "backdrop" and texture your 2D plane with an alpha layered video/photo to make the plane's surface disappear? Also set it's transparency to suit. I've been doing this to make "trouble free shadows" mirror their host's animations in videos so I can render them in GL at about 1/8th of the time and with whatever solidity I like, even give them a life of their own and moving independently.

Once rendered, as lossless, the result can be imported into VSE for whatever it is you're trying to do in there. I can give you much more detail if this is answering your question.


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