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Filmmakers of all kinds are exploring new digital tools for creating animated content. After Effects CS3: Animating Characters follows the creation of a short animated film, from storyboard through final output, using After Effects CS3. George Maestri uses a one-minute monster movie to showcase the new Puppet tool, along with many other techniques for animating characters in After Effects. He covers lip syncing, creating segmented characters with movable joints, and employing special effects. George demonstrates in detail how to create individual scenes and shots, and offers insight into how to pull the pieces together to form a cohesive production. Familiarity with After Effects is recommended. Exercise files accompany the course.
OK, so now I have got this little blink here and now I'm going to animate the arm coming up. So actually I save this out to a file. Just in case you're coming in in the middle here, let me show you where this file is. It's in that After Effects directory, it's called 00E. In fact, let me go ahead and open that, just so you can see we are on the same page. This file has just that blink in it, OK. Now I'm going to make his arm come up.
Let's just go ahead and animate that. There is a few other details that I have, but let's just go ahead and animate the arm. I believe in the actual animation he blinks again as the arm comes up, but we can add that in a little bit later. What I want to do is before he does that, before his arm rises up, I want him to anticipate it, so again just like with the blink where you have a little bit of motion to emphasize it, I want him to precede that motion of putting up the hand with a needle in it with what's called anticipation.
Now what anticipation is is that when your arm moves up, before your arm moves up, it moves back. OK? So just think like if you are going to throw a punch, you just don't push your hand out, you pull your hand back and then push it out to get some more momentum. Well the body is doing that all the time and it's a great little animation technique because what you can do is that when in fact he is anticipating right here, he actually moves up then moves down into the blink. And so what that little move up does is that oh hey he is moving, look at this something is happening and so we can do that again with the body.
So let's go ahead and start playing with the body. I'm going to go to my torso and I'm going to play with Rotation. I think I'm going to mostly play with Position here. So I'm going to Frame 24 and usually for an anticipation it's usually four to six frames, so I'm going to move out to Frame 28 and I'm just going to lower him a little bit. I'm going to play with his position and just lower him down and maybe just rotate him for maybe just like a degree. Now the one thing is that when we are rotating such a big mass, you are going to see that it really rotates a lot.
So I'm going to be very careful with that. In fact, I'm not going to rotate him. And then so it basically comes down. Then I want it to come up and settle, so I have got what? 1, 2, 3, 4... 1, 2, 3, 4. About 4 frames and I want to bring him back up again. In fact the easiest way to do that is to copy and paste again, Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V, this first frame. So when I brings that there, basically he does this but I want him to come up over that point. So essentially what I'm going to do is just bring him up a little bit more and then I am going to settle him back down into that original pose.
So essentially what I have got here is, I have got the torso going up, over and back down again. So see how it comes like that. So basically, he's going to lean forward, push up and then come back down. Now I can play with the timing a little bit on this, I may actually want to give it a little bit more because his arm also has to come up, so now he is going- whoa. OK, perfect. So as he does this, I want him to bend over so let's go over and play with the upper torso.
Now I'm just roughing this out. This isn't going to be exactly the same as it is in that little animated film that I showed you, so I will just kind of give you a little bit of a rough guide to this. So what I'm going to play with here is I'm going to play with- again, I like clicking keys for Position and Rotation because I may actually move it, but I am thinking in this case I'm just going to be rotating that upper body and let's see what happens. So when he comes down and I'm kind of actually kind of rotate him for just a little bit like about, about maybe three or 4 degrees, not a whole lot.
Again some of this is very subtle. See how he kind of bends down? I think I could actually rotate him forward even little bit more. Again it just depends on how, you know, how subtle or how broad you want to be with this. So now see how he kind of moves down? And then in fact what I'm going to do here is I'm actually going to make him move down maybe about 4 or 5 degrees and then as he pushes up, I am going to bend him a little bit more because what happens is as his body comes up, it's actually this is going to resist and we actually have this thing in animation called Drag.
And so what this does is when I lean him forward a little bit more, it's going to appear so this lower body is pushing the mass of the body up and the upper body is resisting a little bit. So it basically goes down, up and then he settles, he straightens back up to zero. In fact I can just type that in because I know that's my default position and so now I have got- alright. Alright that, OK, that looks pretty good. So now we have to play with the arms and we want to get those arms moving up.
So, basically what happens is as he moves down, Frame 28 is where he is at his lowest point, then he starts moving up. So notice how he kind of comes back this way, so I really want to time this with the upper torso. So let me look at these keyframes here. He is going to start moving up right here at Frame 32. And so what happens is that Frame 32, I want that arm to start moving out. In fact here I must want him to be kind of almost leaning back a little bit. Yeah that's even better.
So I'm actually going to move him at this very last frame, we will actually move him -10 degrees. So now he goes. You can even almost see how that arm is going to move. You can see how that torso is pushing that arm out. So let's go ahead and play with our arms. The arm that's actually on right now is Frank Arm 1 and so here I kind of want that arm to start moving forward. So I'm going to set a key for Rotation and Position, but we are also going to be playing with Opacity here.
So I'm going to turn that on and actually let's go ahead and set a key at 24 for Position/Rotation. In fact I'm just going to go ahead and copy and paste these keys. So now I have kind of a lockdown key and now I'm actually going to rotate this arm back just a little bit as he comes down. And now I want that arm to kind of shoot forward just a little bit, maybe a few degrees, and what we have to do here is we have to start going to these other arms that we created.
So we are going to do a very quick in between here, so again I want to set an Opacity key. Make sure that that's set at 32. And we are going to go from Arm 1 to Arm 1A. Again I'm going to set Opacity key, but also I want to set a Position and Rotation because I may move this. And then I'm going to go to Frame 33 and I'm going to turn this arm on and maybe rotate that back just a little bit. So again, now I'm going to turn off at Frame 33. I'm going to go and I'm going to animate opacity to zero for Arm 1, so essentially what it's going to do- there is a little bit of a pop there, see that? So I want to get a smooth rotation from one to the other, I want to make sure that this animation is smooth. That's actually better.
So then he comes forward and now I want to turn on Arm 2, so essentially what I'm doing is I'm going through Arm 1, 1A, 2A, 2. So at this point, I'm going to set a key here for the last position of arm 1 and we are going to start arm 2 here, so essentially at Frame 34, if I'm going to turn Arm 2 and turn off Arm 1, well what I'm going to do here now here is a little trick, is before I do that I actually want this arm to be as close as possible to that other arm, so that way when it actually does animate off you are actually almost in the same position, see how that works? So now his arm is coming out and let's give this another two frames here. So I'm going to go ahead and set another key for Opacity on 2A and rotate it forward a little bit.
But I need to actually match that again to Arm 2. So here I'm going to set ahead and set a key for Opacity at Frame 37 and at Frame 38 I'm going to turn on Arm 2. And then here what I'm going to do is rotate Arm 2A, which is the one before that, so that it kind of matches and then I'm going to turn the Opacity off. So now I know that this keyframe is pretty much going to match. So now there we go, that's pretty close.
OK, so that's my rough animation of that arm. Now we have to match the string and also put on a few more little finishing touches here, but you can kind of see how we are working this. So I'm going to go ahead and save this out and let's go ahead and pick this up and do some of the last final details.
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