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Creating Animated Characters in After Effects
Illustration by John Hersey

Animating dialogue


From:

Creating Animated Characters in After Effects

with George Maestri

Video: Animating dialogue

So at this point, we've blocked out the animation of the body. So let's go ahead, and just play what we have so far. (Character: Oh boy! I've been waiting for this all week! Oh--) So in this animation, again, this is kind of a test animation, so I wanted to do a number of different things. I wanted to make sure the character has a head turn, changing of the hands, that sort of thing. I also wanted to make sure that we have head turns, and here at the end I wanted to make sure I can put the character's hands behind his back.
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  1. 1m 49s
    1. Welcome
      1m 17s
    2. Using the exercise files
      32s
  2. 27m 15s
    1. Creating characters in Illustrator
      5m 51s
    2. Creating characters in Photoshop
      7m 9s
    3. Designing joints
      3m 40s
    4. Drawing mouths
      2m 12s
    5. Drawing hands and eyelids
      2m 48s
    6. Importing Illustrator files into After Effects
      3m 26s
    7. Importing Photoshop files into After Effects
      2m 9s
  3. 7m 51s
    1. Drawing in After Effects
      3m 57s
    2. Copying paths from Illustrator
      2m 19s
    3. Animating shapes
      1m 35s
  4. 21m 9s
    1. Understanding how layer hierarchies work
      3m 58s
    2. Understanding the importance of the pivot point
      5m 42s
    3. Assembling the upper body
      4m 47s
    4. Creating leg hierarchies for efficient walks
      4m 27s
    5. Organizing scenes with null layers
      2m 15s
  5. 22m 26s
    1. Adding puppet pins to a character
      6m 51s
    2. Controlling mesh density
      2m 15s
    3. Creating overlap pins
      4m 43s
    4. Creating starch pins
      3m 1s
    5. Using the Puppet tool with hierarchies
      5m 36s
  6. 19m 7s
    1. Replacement animation using time remapping
      6m 47s
    2. Mouth replacement
      6m 6s
    3. Creating blinks
      6m 14s
  7. 27m 23s
    1. Creating a head turn: Head shape
      6m 45s
    2. Creating a head turn: Ears
      8m 7s
    3. Creating a head turn: Facial features
      6m 41s
    4. Creating a head turn: Hair shape
      5m 50s
  8. 1h 3m
    1. The basics of expressions: Controlling the wrist
      5m 20s
    2. Moving hands from front to back with expressions
      9m 2s
    3. Using expressions to control pupils
      7m 44s
    4. Creating a master control node with Expression Controls
      6m 30s
    5. Creating blinks that move with a head turn
      9m 28s
    6. Controlling blinks using opacity
      6m 34s
    7. Attaching mouth shapes to a slider
      3m 39s
    8. Creating mouths that move with a head turn
      8m 31s
    9. Working with absolute values
      6m 12s
  9. 14m 28s
    1. Setting up null objects as bones
      5m 39s
    2. Attaching puppet pins to bones
      4m 57s
    3. Strategies for parenting legs and feet
      3m 52s
  10. 28m 32s
    1. Setting up a scene for animation
      6m 3s
    2. Blocking out the shot
      11m 0s
    3. Animating dialogue
      5m 39s
    4. Animating blinks
      5m 50s
  11. 18s
    1. Goodbye
      18s

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Creating Animated Characters in After Effects
3h 53m Intermediate Sep 08, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Learn to create and animate highly controllable characters using After Effects. In this course, author George Maestri covers every step on the way, from designing the characters in Photoshop or Illustrator, or drawing them straight from After Effects; assembling characters with hierarchies; making realistic deformations with the Puppet tool; automating rigs with expressions; creating realistic head turns; and showing advanced techniques such as using null objects as bones. Finally, the course shows how to perform a basic animation with the character and ensure the rig works correctly.

Topics include:
  • Importing Illustrator or Photoshop files into After Effects
  • Animating shapes
  • Organizing scenes with null layers
  • Working with the Puppet tool
  • Creating replacement animation using time remapping
  • Automating head turns
  • Creating a master control node with Expression Controls effects
  • Setting up a scene for animation
  • Animating dialogue
Subjects:
3D + Animation Character Animation
Software:
After Effects
Author:
George Maestri

Animating dialogue

So at this point, we've blocked out the animation of the body. So let's go ahead, and just play what we have so far. (Character: Oh boy! I've been waiting for this all week! Oh--) So in this animation, again, this is kind of a test animation, so I wanted to do a number of different things. I wanted to make sure the character has a head turn, changing of the hands, that sort of thing. I also wanted to make sure that we have head turns, and here at the end I wanted to make sure I can put the character's hands behind his back.

So I want to make sure I can do that front-forward-back thing with the arms. So this is the basic animation, and so far the character is working pretty well. So the next thing we need to do is add in lip sync to match the dialog. So let's go ahead down, select our HEAD_CTL object here, and we have a Mouth slider. So I am going to ahead and zoom in just a little bit, and let's go ahead and zoom in to the character's face. So what we need to do is start scrubbing through the animation, listening to the dialog, and matching up the mouth shapes to the dialog.

Now, before we get started, let's do a quick refresh here. When we animate replacement animation, such as this Mouth slider, we want to make sure that we use the right type of interpolation. So if we right-click and go into Keyframe Interpolation, you want to just make sure that this is on Hold, okay, and that will make this type of keyframe, instead of the diamond-shaped ones, and that way you will know you are using Hold Interpolation. So let's go through and start scrubbing. Now, in After Effects, if you hold down the Ctrl key while you scrub, you can hear the soundtrack.

So let's go through this. Okay, so that first line, "oh," starts right around Frame 12 or so, so let's go ahead and start dialing in the mouth. Now remember, he's happy, so I kind of want to start with a happy mouth, actually, so let's go through here. So he is going to go from here into kind of an "Oh" mouth here, just go ahead and dial that in. So I want to go from here to here and then down into the ooh shape.

So that would be this one here. So now we have got-- And then he is going to say. So right here before he actually says boy, we want that B sound. So somewhere right around frame 36 or 37, I want to bring the mouth into kind of a B shape here. So what I want to do is I like using this kind of frowned, closed mouth, because it gives a little bit more tension-- particularly for this vowel here.

So again, I want to go open. In fact, I can almost use this exact same sequence here. So I am going to go ahead and select these keyframes, copy them, and paste them at this keyframe. So it goes-- I don't think the open mouth works on this. (Character: Boy!) Boy, E, so we want kind of an E shape here. (Character: Boy!) Okay. So now we've got - (Character: Oh boy!) Now, I want to close down that mouth a little bit, or maybe even, let's go to this mouth.

(Character: Oh boy!) No, that doesn't work. So let's go to this one. So right there is I. So we are going to start with an open mouth here. IE, within that I, so I. Close that down a little bit. (clip playing) I've, I've been. Okay, so let's actually change this.

Let's change this. Instead of to this mouth, let's go to the V or F, so basically, "I've been waiting." So we want to go I've. Been. Okay, so let's do this mouth here. And then been. Let's try that. (Character: I've been--) Been, let's go to a more of a consonant sound, which is that one. Waiting, okay, so that would be ooh, wa, a. That would be either one or two. There we go! (Character: I've been waiting.) And after a while, you start to get to memorize the numbers and which mouth shape they have.

(Character: Oh boy! I've been waiting for--) So at this point you can see what the process is. We are just scrubbing through the timeline and assigning the mouths that work, and then every once in a while you do want to create a RAM Preview just to check where you are at. So let's go ahead and do that and see what we have so far. (Character: Oh boy! I've been waiting for this all week!) Okay. So now you can see that so far, we've done pretty good. So I'll have you finish out the dialog track, and we understand the process now, and then the next step is to go ahead and just finish this off by using blinks and eye direction.

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