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All animators must learn to walk before they can run. In 2D Character Animation, industry expert George Maestri teaches the basic principles every animator must know to build a foundation for more complex work. These principles are relevant regardless of software used or animation style. George explains how good animation depends on a firm knowledge of the laws of motion, which inform the principles of animation. He teaches the basics of creating characters, squash and stretch, pose-to-pose animation, walking and running, track reading, and dialogue animation. He also shows how to use After Effects and Flash to apply the tools learned in the course. Exercise files accompany this course.
Let's go ahead and move on to the next logical step, which is animating the entire character to dialog. Now, when you animate a character to dialog you want to make sure that you get the body animation first, then do the phonemes and then do the whatever fine-tuning you need to make sure it all syncs up. Now the reason we want to animate the body first is we want to get the broad motion of the character blocked in before we do any phonemes. There may be situations where the head is in a strange place and certain phonemes won't work.
So we want to make sure that we get the poses and then do the phonemes, because again the body is more important than just the mouth. So let's go ahead and take a look at the dialog that we are going to be using. And I am going to go and play this. (Male speaker: I can't figure this out, I can't figure this out.) So as you can see the dialog is "I can't figure this out." Now when reading the track for body animation, you don't want to do it a phoneme at a time. If you animated the body to every single phoneme, you totally over-animate the track.
What we were trying to do here is get the broad sense of the track and get the major beats or major points of emphasis in the track. So which words in the track are emphasized? So in this particular track, I am thinking the words "can't" and "out" are the ones that I want to emphasize. So I want to go, "I CAN'T figure this OUT." So let's go ahead and scrub through this and see what the track looks like. (Male speaker: I can't figure this out.) Again, the word "can't" and "out" seeing to be the points of emphasis.
So if I emphasize those two words, the rest should fill in just fine. So let's go ahead, and start doing some animation. So the first thing I am going to do is go to the beginning of the word can't and set some keyframes, and then I am going to go to where the word kind of comes to it's peak, which is in the middle of this word an't or the AHH sound in the word can't. And go ahead and animate the character, so that he is in a nice pose.
So I am going to go ahead, and rotate him up a little, and then, because he is saying the word can't, which means I don't know, I am going to go ahead and bring his arms into a shrug. So I am going to go ahead and rotate his arm out a little bit and move it up. So it seems like he is shrugging. So he is saying I can't. Now, let's go ahead and do that for the other arm. So I am going to do the same for the right arm. I am going to go ahead and rotate his arms out just a little bit, and again move it up so he has a shrug. So now we have (Recording: I can't) figure this...
I am going to keep him arms out for that so when he is saying "I can't figure this out," he is still going to be shrugging and then he is going to basically relax the shrug on the word out. So he has got (Recording: I can't figure this..) and then out, he is going to go ahead and relax his pose. I am going to go ahead and bring his arms back to the side. Now this is just the basic blocking. I am just getting the basic pose.
So let's go ahead and see what this looks like. Let me go ahead and just scrub it. (Recording: I can't figure this out.) Now I want to get a little bit more animation into this. I want to anticipate both of these points of emphasis. The point where he is shrugging and the point where he relaxes the shrug. So I am going to go ahead and do some more animation with his body. So I am going to go ahead and before he actually comes up into this pose I am going to actually drop him down a little bit.
So I am going to actually drop his body, maybe even rotate him a little bit in the opposite direction. So now, he is going kind of like this. And so he is kind of dropping down and then popping up, and then again I want to kind of sink him down just a little bit, and maybe even rotate him over a little bit and just kind of drop him down. So I have got him coming up and then dropping down. In fact, I can probably drop him down a little bit faster.
So drop him down and then again, I want to kind of keep him moving. I don't want him just to freeze there and maybe even relax the arms a little bit. So we go ahead and take these arms and rotate them in, just so he is relaxing. One of things that will really help your animations is learning a little bit about drift, and that's gravity will always tend to pull things down. So when your arms are out, their tendency is to sink down. So his arms will try to sink down.
So he comes up and then he kind of relaxes down, and then he should actually come up again on the word out and then settle back in. So what we were going to do here is as he says the word out, I am going to go ahead and pop him up one more time. And keep those arms out. So now, we have got "I can't figure this out." So I have gone ahead and tweaked this a little bit.
So let's go ahead, and see what my final version of just this phase of the animation looks like. (Recording: I can't figure this out. I can't figure this out.) So there we have our first pass at the animation. So we have got the body animated. Now we need to go ahead and fill in the phonemes. But when animating the body make sure you hit the major points of emphasis in your dialog, be sure to anticipate those points of emphasis and be sure to not over-animate by trying to animate every word.
And if you do that, you'll have a good start on your dialog animation.
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