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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.
So once you have your basic pose animation in place, you can animate your lip sync and your phonemes, as well as do some eye direction and some general head motion. So let's go ahead and do that and we're going to go ahead and do another technique for mouth swapping, where you can actually swap out a number of different mouths very quickly. Now before we get started, let's see where we're at. We pretty much have the poses of the character in place. (Female Speaker: Welcome to the show.) So we have pretty much all the animation in place.
All we need to do is just finalize the head. So let's go ahead and zoom in to the head, and if we actually select the head and double-click on it, we can tunnel into the head. You'll notice that the head actually has multiple layers. There is Layer 1, which is basically the head and the hair. We have the mouths on a separate layer, as well as the pupils and then there is also a layer for the eyelids. Now what we're going to do is we're going to actually animate this here and then it will actually show up in our main movie.
Now before we do this, we need to actually add in the frames that we need. Now it's an 80 frame animation, so I'm just going to go ahead and left-click and drag, and then just hit F5 to add in the frames that we need. Now let's go ahead to the mouths, and we'll take a look at how to animate those. If I select this mouth and double- click on it, you'll see that once I tunnel into this, it's actually a sub-animation. It's actually got one phoneme per frame for total of about seven or eight frames of animation.
I've got a few blanks here, but those aren't going to be used. So what we can do is we can actually select which one of these frames is visible and actually animate between these mouths. All we have to do is select this mouth selection here, go over to our Properties panel and you'll notice here that we have a Looping control. If we keep this option at Single Frame, we can actually select which one of these frames-- again, let's go in here-- we can select which one of these frames is displayed.
So double-click to come back out. So if I do frame 1, it's that one, frame 2 is the A mouth, frame 3 is the E mouth, frame 4 is that consonant sound, 5 is L or TH, 6 is the F sound, 7 is Oh, and 8 is Ooh. Now one of the things I like to do is I actually kind of like to write them down so I have them handy.
I also like to standardize these between my characters, so that way I can just memorize the numbers and I don't have to worry too much about it. Now we're actually going to be animating this to the dialog. So, first thing I want to do is actually go ahead and select this mouth and let's go ahead and get our first frame set up, so she's actually going to have her mouth closed to start with. But I also need the sound track in order to animate to it. So I'm actually going to go find my Welcome.wav and I'm actually going to slug in a layer, temporarily, and just drop that in here.
Let's make sure that we go ahead and select that and the Properties, make sure it's at String. So now all we have to do is just start keying the mouths. So let's go over to our Properties panel, select the mouth and our first frame is going to be closed mouth. So as you can see, we can go to frame 42 and that's where the "welcome" for "welcome to the show" starts. So the first phoneme is going to be Ooh or the W sound or the Ooh sound for welcome.
So I'm going to select frame 42 on the Mouths layer in the Timeline, hit F6, and let's just go ahead and select that object and let's just put it to number 8, which is that phoneme. You can see it animates between them. So now all we have to do is go another two frames forward and let's go to our next phoneme. So I'm going to hit F6 and select that and let's go ahead and put in the next one. So it's going to go Well-eh, eh or A. I'm actually going to put in the A sound here.
So that's number 2. So now you can see it's going Weh, and then let's just keep animating. So the next one is going to be the L sound. So again, you click on the symbol, change it to the proper phoneme, which in this case is number 5, Well, and again I'm trying to do at least two frames per phoneme.
So I'm going two frames, so it's Ooh, A, L and then come, welcome, is actually going to be the consonant sound, which is I believe number 4. Then you just start working your way through. So now I've got the M sound, which is going to be frame 1, and so on and so forth. So you've got-- (Female Speaker: Welcome to...) Now when I go out to my animation, you can see how I've got my animation in place.
Now I'm going to stop here with the lip sync animation, and let me show you a little bit about how to animate the eyes. Again, I'm going to double-click on the head and tunnel into that. So now let's go ahead and start animating the eyes. I'm going to go ahead and mute my dialogue for right now. Now let's just go ahead and first of all get her eyes into a position. Now remember, she's walking to her right. Now, when we're animating this way, when we're actually tunneling into a symbol to actually animate, we don't get the luxury of actually being able to scrub the whole thing.
So you kind of have to guesstimate. So actually you have to have a lot more planning in place, when you actually go to animate it. So I'm going to go ahead and put her eyes over to this side here. Now remember, she walks in and then right around frame 30, she comes to her pose, and then "Welcome to the show," and remember the "show" is on frame around 56 to 60. So let's go ahead and start her off with a blink. So I'm actually going to select the lids here.
One of the things is that you're not going to actually see this, because I actually have a blank frame in here. In fact, if we click on this little spot, you can see I've got again, the same situation I have with the mouth, which is a symbol and we can select which frame of the symbol. So, for example, frame 2 is the eyes one-third closed, frame 3 is the eyes two-thirds closed and frame 4 is the eyes completely closed. So we can use this to create a blink. So let's go ahead and start with frame 1. I'm going to go ahead here to frame 6, and let's go ahead and insert a keyframe.
Let's go ahead and do another keyframe, and again, just select the eyes and go frame 2, and then two frames, select them again, frame 3, and again all we're doing is just animating that number. Again, I'm just hitting F6, reselecting it and then closing the eyes. So now, you can see she's closing her eyes.
So now what we want to do is just go ahead and open them back up. If you want, you could actually copy- and-paste these keys, but I find it's a little bit easier just to type in the numbers again. So actually, I'm going to open her eyes a little bit faster. So she's going to close slow and open pretty fast. So right by this frame here, she's going to be completely open. So now we've got a blink. Now let's go ahead and change her eye direction.
In fact, I want to go ahead and go back out to my main composition and let's take a look at this. So she walks in, she doesn't blink, and now when she stops, I want to do a blink right around here. So right around frame 24 or so, I want to have a blink. So let's go ahead and go into her head here. Again, I'm going to zoom in so we can see this a little bit better. So now on frame 24, I want to go ahead and do another blink. The easiest thing to do is just select these frames, copy them, then just go to frame 24 and go Paste Frames.
Now notice you're getting a little bit extra at the end here, all I have to do is select that and just go remove those frames. So now we've got another blink. Now in this blink I want to actually change the eye direction. So I'm going to go ahead and select each eye as it closes, and then set another keyframe. In fact, I need to zoom in a little bit better here. Just go ahead and move these eyes over to the other side.
So now she comes in and she looks to the right and to the left. There we go. Let's go ahead and zoom out a little bit, there we go. There she blinks. I've got that, it looks like it's in the wrong place, so actually I want to go ahead and take this frame and move it a little bit, there we go.
Then Welcome to this show, I want her to go ahead and blink. So I'm just going to select all of these and again, Copy Frames, Paste Frames. Then select these and just Remove Frames. So now I've got another blink. So right there, I want to keep her eyes in the right place and then as she brings them up, I can again just copy and paste the frames so that she's going in the opposite direction.
So you can do that for the other eye as well, Copy Frames, Paste Frames. Let's go ahead and tunnel back out, and let's center this. Let's see what we've got. So you can see her blinks and everything. So I'm going to go ahead and turn on my sound, so we can hear this. I'm going to show you the final version of this with the blinks and all the dialogue in place. Now as you can see, animating something more complex like the head, a lot of times you want to actually animate within a symbol.
So actually I have symbols nested within other symbols. The one issue with this is that you can't see the full animation. So a lot of times you have to pre-plan certain things. Now, dialogue really works well, because it's really just scrubbing against the sound track. Now something like blinks you may need to have a little bit more pre-planning because you'll have to get your eye direction just right. But let's go ahead and take a look at this final animation. (Female Speaker: Welcome to the show.) So, there you have an animation in Flash.
What we've done is we've actually walked the character in, posed her and done dialogue. So we've covered most of the major things that you need to do with any Flash animation. So now that you understand the principles of animation and how to animate in Flash, you should be able to animate just about any scene.
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