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After Effects CS3: Animating Characters
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Animating blinks using Opacity


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After Effects CS3: Animating Characters

with George Maestri

Video: Animating blinks using Opacity

I've showed you a little bit about how to setup the hierarchies and pivot points so let me show you the finished version of that. I'm going to go ahead and open a project and it's in that same After Effects directory. It's called 00, Shot04_00a. Now these names may change because I'm saving as I go along. This isn't really my production directory. I'm kind of saving out interim files so that you can kind of see the step-by-step. So here's basically all the layers and everything is setup with their proper pivot points.
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  1. 2m 26s
    1. Welcome
      1m 30s
    2. How to use the exercise files
      56s
  2. 24m 25s
    1. Project overview
      3m 12s
    2. Original storyboard
      2m 36s
    3. Organizing production directories
      3m 56s
    4. Using a rough soundtrack for shot timing
      1m 58s
    5. Creating a Leica reel in Premiere Pro
      7m 17s
    6. Tracking projects
      3m 1s
    7. Creating art in Photoshop for After Effects
      2m 25s
  3. 47m 12s
    1. Segmenting Photoshop characters
      7m 54s
    2. Importing Photoshop files into After Effects
      3m 55s
    3. Linking character parts
      5m 25s
    4. Animating blinks using Opacity
      8m 19s
    5. Animating the arm
      9m 57s
    6. Animating the needle and thread and the monster's hand
      11m 42s
  4. 54m 9s
    1. Introduction to subcompositions
      5m 32s
    2. Setting up nested compositions
      4m 29s
    3. Animating a run cycle pt. 1: Basic leg motion
      8m 45s
    4. Animating a run cycle pt. 2: Overlap and follow-through
      5m 4s
    5. Putting the girl in his arms
      8m 24s
    6. Animating a screaming girl pt. 1: The arms
      9m 49s
    7. Animating a screaming girl pt. 2: The head
      12m 6s
  5. 32m 5s
    1. The basics of the Puppet tool
      5m 37s
    2. Creating bounce with the Puppet tool
      5m 55s
    3. Dig cycles pt. 1: Introduction
      2m 9s
    4. Dig cycles pt. 2: Shovel
      4m 54s
    5. Dig cycles pt. 3: Arms and body
      11m 3s
    6. Dig cycles pt. 4: Finalizing
      2m 27s
  6. 47m 32s
    1. Creating a monster pt. 1: Introduction
      2m 35s
    2. Creating a monster pt. 2
      10m 42s
    3. Creating a monster pt. 3
      12m 34s
    4. Creating a monster pt. 4
      4m 39s
    5. Creating a monster pt. 5: Finalizing
      4m 22s
    6. Creating smoke and bubble cycles
      7m 34s
    7. Creating a dry brush effect
      5m 6s
  7. 23m 9s
    1. The basics of lip syncing
      3m 8s
    2. Setting up mouths for animation with time mapping
      7m 21s
    3. Animating the lips
      6m 23s
    4. Animating the head and body
      6m 17s
  8. 14m 54s
    1. Rendering with After Effects
      4m 4s
    2. Editing with Premiere Pro
      4m 9s
    3. Final output and audio
      6m 41s
  9. 10s
    1. Goodbye
      10s

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After Effects CS3: Animating Characters
4h 6m Intermediate Jun 18, 2008

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Organizing with storyboards, rough soundtracks, and Leica reels Creating, importing, and linking segmented character parts from Photoshop Setting up nested compositions to animate a run cycle Creating smoke and bubble cycles, and other special effects Animating lips, heads, and bodies with time mapping Editing and creating final output with Premiere Pro
Subjects:
3D + Animation Animation Character Animation
Software:
After Effects
Author:
George Maestri

Animating blinks using Opacity

I've showed you a little bit about how to setup the hierarchies and pivot points so let me show you the finished version of that. I'm going to go ahead and open a project and it's in that same After Effects directory. It's called 00, Shot04_00a. Now these names may change because I'm saving as I go along. This isn't really my production directory. I'm kind of saving out interim files so that you can kind of see the step-by-step. So here's basically all the layers and everything is setup with their proper pivot points.

Now notice how everything is pretty much turned on. Now when we go to animate, we actually do for example these blinks here. Obviously you want just the blink or the open eye or the closed eye; you don't want both. But I can't keep just hitting this visibility icon because you really can't animate that, what you can animate however is opacity. So what I need to do is go through this file and kind of set the opacity down for each one of these objects. So for example, left eye blink. I'm going to go ahead and turn down the blinker.

Same for right eye. Again, I'm just using this transform roll out. I go down to Opacity and I just set it to 0, OK? And what that does is it basically turns it off. One of the things I did do in this particular file, I moved the face up in the layering because I wanted the face actually to stay on top and if the arm went behind it, there is a point here where the arm may actually touch the face, I would rather have the arm go behind the face than on top of it just because I want to keep the face in the clear.

So I actually layered those down and let's go ahead down to his arms. I'm going to leave Arm 1 on and I'm going to turn off Arm 1A, Arm 2A and Arm 2. So notice all these are there. And then I think there is also an eyebrow and we're going to turnoff Eyebrow 1 because I like the way Eyebrow 2 looks. So now everything is pretty much turned off and now we can start animating the character.

And one of the things I'd like to do is at the beginning of our shot, if there is nothing to do, I usually like to at least put a blink in almost right upfront so that way the character comes to life almost as soon as you see the shot. Now typically with these shots I'm giving myself a little bit of cushion at the beginning. Try not to start animating until frame maybe five or six so that way I have a few frames to kind of cut on. So actually I think we are going to start this blink on Frame 8. And when a character blinks, another thing you want to do is actually move the head a little bit but before I do that let me show you quickly how to animate one of these blinks.

I'm actually going to zoom in. I'm going to hit this zoom thing here and kind of zoom in so we can see his face. So this is zoomed in 33%. And how we animate a blink is very, very simple. All we have to do is turn on and turn off the eyes that we need. So let's go ahead and use- actually it looks like I have two right eyes here. I'm actually going to turn- that eye, right eye works. So what I'm going to do is at Frame 8 I'm going to set a key for Opacity on Right Eye 2.

So right there is my key and then for right eye blink, I'm going to expand that, I'm going to set a key for Opacity at zero. So what I have here- this is a very tight screen so you are not going to see this very easily here. I have two keys, one that keeps the blink off and one that keeps the eye open. So what I do is I go one frame forward, I animate this up to 100% and this down to zero. It looks like I have got the wrong eye here.

So what I have to do here is I think it's actually this eye is the eye that needs to be animated. So let's go ahead. In fact it looks like this layer, it may be bogus, so let's go ahead and delete these keys here. And I'm going to go ahead and set a key for Opacity on right eye and then set it to 0. So now watch what happens, watch this eye here. Basically what happens is at this point right eye blink is off, it's at zero. Right eye is at 100 and then over the course of one frame I animate this down to zero and that up to 100.

Now I have the keys which means I can just copy and paste keys which is much easier. So all I have to do is move a few frames forward then I just copy. I'm using Ctrl+C or I believe it's Apple+C on the Mac keyboard and I just go copy, paste. So what I have done is I have copied and paste the 100% for this right eye blink and the 0% for this Opacity. And then I move forward and now I can copy and paste this in fact let's do it from here. We can do Copy and Paste.

And we can do the same. I'm going to use my keyboard shortcuts here and now we've got a blink. OK now we can do the same for the other eye. And let's make sure I've got two eyes here. I think I have got a left eye here. I can... OK, we're going to turn off left eye, actually right eye 2 is actually our left eye so let's go ahead and use that. I'm going to go back to Frame 8 and this is the travails of production. Sometimes things don't get named properly.

Set Opacity to 0 and 100, move forward and again we are going to do the exact same thing, turn that down and now I can just cut and paste. Now I have given myself 2 frames to play with here for the blink and that's about right. Typical blink should be a total of maybe 6 to 8 frames at 30 frames a second. So there we go, there is my blink. Now this is how we are going to do a lot of this animation. We are going to use these little opacity tricks to turn things on and off.

And the nice thing is that once you get this Opacity pretty much set, you can just copy and paste these. So if I wanted to put another blink down, all I have to do is just copy these keys and paste them further down so once I've animated one blink, I have basically animated all the blinks. So now the only other thing I would like to do is give the head a little bit of motion because when you blink it's nice to have that head also go along for the blink because it kind of just gives that little bit of emphasis.

So I'm going to go ahead and zoom out here a little bit so you can kind of see what I'm doing. So a few frames before that blink, I'm going to take that head and I'm going to start animating it. So I'm going to turn on Rotation and Position for this head and I'm going to move forward to Frame 8 and I'm going to just angle that up just a hair. Not too much. Just like that and then when he blinks I'm going to come all the way down and I'm going to come down by the end of that blink. So actually like that and then I'm going to come back up to my neutral position, which is this keyframe here, so it starts here and ends there.

So what I'm going to do is just select these two keyframes and I typically just paste and if I want to, I could actually just move these a little bit so it gives a much better sense of that blink. So if this wasn't animating, all that would happen would be just that little bit of motion here but by moving his head, you actually give a much stronger blink. In fact let me zoom out just a little bit so you can kind of see that in full. So there is my blink, great.

OK, so now in the next one, we are going to animate that arm coming up.

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