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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.
Now we have got two more things to do on this, one is to animate the string or the needle and the other one is to animate the monster's arm. So let's start with the string that's attached to the needle. What I did here- actually I'll turn off these layers. In fact, let's go ahead and open this. I save this out as 00c, Shot04. So here it is. And what I have done is I have hidden the strings.
There are actually four strings in there, but I'm actually using them two of them, String 1 and String 2. Now what I did was each one of these strings- in fact let me take this one string and we will kind of move around a little bit. See that the string actually has kind of a coiled shape at the beginning and then kind of this S shape at the end, so what I did actually was String 1 is kind of going forwards and for String 2 what I did, essentially I took that same shape and I just turned it upside down, so that way I have kind of a little bit more of a stretched string kind of look.
So what I'm going to do here is I'm going to make sure that it follows his hand up until about Frame 29 or 30 right there. See where it starts to go up like that? See how this comes out like that? I really don't want that to happen, so I'm right here at Frame 29. I'm going to animate the string here and I'm going to actually animate the Opacity. The Opacity should be at 100 here. So I'm actually going to animate the Opacity off on this string at Frame 29.
And actually I animate it off between 29 and 30. So now it comes up. And then I want to animate the other string, String 2 on. So I am going to open up this and I'm going to turn it on at Frame 30. And it's going to be off at frame, I'll type in 0 there. So now what I have got is as it comes up, you can see it kind of just pops.
Now if I get this animation correct, it will actually look like it's just stretching out. So here on Frame 29, we are going to get this to kind of rotate down, so I'm actually going to turn on Rotation and I might also worry about Position here, so I'm actually going to rotate this down just a little bit. And then also right here I'm just going to kind of rotate it again, so it looks like more like he is- and so you can see how it kind of just pops and moves forward.
In fact, right here I need to rotate this down just a little bit. Again I don't want his arm to- OK, that's actually moving up before he moves. So I need to make sure that, I'm going to copy and paste that key there. Make sure it actually... The best thing to do is actually move this key before his arm moves. There we go. OK so now when it comes here and it pops onto, at this point between 29-30, it's actually popping between these two strings.
So at 30, String 2 is the only one that's on, so I want to make sure that I set this key for Position and Rotation maybe even Scale. Now for this one actually I put the pivot point right here where the needle is. So if I scale it, for example, I can make it look like that string is stretching and when I rotate it, it actually rotates around the hand. So right there what I can do is I can actually squash this up a little bit to make it look like it's kind of stretching and then what I need to do now is also move this so that I'm actually just going to manually- it's not that many frames, it's only a few frames and then I can actually make this rotate down a little bit here and one more.
In fact, I'm going to bring this Scale up now to 100% so it looks right and then just again, I'm just manually moving it up. And again essentially- I don't need that guide there- so again I'm just making sure that this works. There we go. Now this is linked to Arm 2, because we are actually going through from Arm 1 to Arm 1A to Arm 2A to Arm 2, it doesn't really move with that until you actually get it into that final position.
So now let's take a look at that, how that looks. There we go. Now it looks like that string is kind of stretching out and when it goes through that fast motion, it pretty much looks seamless. So that's pretty much how I did it and maybe a little bit different in the final file, but that's essentially how that little trick was done. And the last thing is to actually animate the monster's hand, which is actually responding to that needle coming up. So needle comes up, ding, and then the monster reacts. So right there it kind of dings there and about between 35 and 40, somewhere around there, so we are actually going to start making the monster hand react at 40 because really when you animate something you really want one thing to happen and then the next thing to react to what happened.
So this hand really can't react until that little spark comes up, so at 40 I'm going to go ahead and animate the sleeve and the hand. Now the monster's hand is connected to the sleeve, so if I animate the sleeve itself then everything moves, OK? Now notice I have this kind of chopped off at the top there, so I don't have much room to play with up here. What I did was I actually played with scale, so actually I am going to go ahead and set keys for everything, Position, Rotation and Scale. For me, that's everything. We don't usually need to animate the anchor point and we are not going to animate Opacity on this either.
So at this point, I want to kind of squash it so I want to actually animate it. So if I do this, if I animate on X, that's actually not going to squash it in the right direction. I'll actually keep this at 100 and I'm just going to squash it up. Just a little bit like maybe 93%-94%, somewhere around there. And if I want I can actually expand it just by maybe 1% here because usually when you squish something up- OK, but here actually, what I'm doing here is I'm actually animating this and I really need to move these keys forward and I need to make this, bring this back to 100 here. Because we need a starting point.
So the starting point here is going to be 100 and then it's going to go up. And notice how well, I actually, I do bring that keyframe in where it goes 94% up and 102 wide, notice it kind of gives that sense of squashing and so I can do that. And then I just want to bring it back down again. In fact I want to overshoot this. It's a good 1, 2, 3 and then 1, 2, 3, I'm going to overshoot this so I'm actually going to copy these keys and paste them and then I'm actually going to reverse this. I'm going to stretch this down just a little bit, so instead of where this was at 94, this is now at 106 and this is actually skinnier.
This is about 96 or so. And then bring it back at 1, 2, 3. Doing this kind of a standard cycle, so I'm going to select that first frame which is at 100% and I'm going to copy and paste it again. So it goes basically, so what it does, it goes from 100- we are watching this number right here. It goes from 100 to 102, 94 to 96, 106 and then back to 100, 100.
You just see that just gives it a nice squash and stretch. Now we can add some more dynamics to this by actually animating the hand a little bit separately from this. So as this comes up, the hand is actually going to resist a little bit and actually the hand is going to move down, so I'm actually going to take this hand. Make sure I've got my Move tool here, select the hand, highlight it and then we are just going to move it down just a hair. Not so much. Actually that hair is a little too much here and I'm going to bring it in.
There we go. And then as it comes down, we are actually going to bring that hand down and extend it just a little bit and then bring it back. In fact, I'm just going to copy and paste all these. And if I want to, I can also rotate this hand just a little bit. So as it comes down, I'm going to rotate it just a little bit, again just to give it a little bit more complex motion here. So as it comes up, I'm going to rotate it at same negative 1 or 2 degrees.
And then as- so it basically comes up, down and then back up again. In fact, what I can do is actually delay these a little bit. So what I can just take these keys and push them back a frame or two, so that way a little bit more softness, so that everything doesn't happen all at the same frame. So this is at its maximum, but right now this actually rotates to its maximum here and moves up to its maximum and then this sleeve comes down, so now I have got kind of a nice little motion there.
So what this is, it's basically motion of this, which controls everything, and then kind of a secondary motion here on the hand. Here we go. So that's generally how I animated this shot. There is probably a few more tweaks that are in the master file, but I will put that one out there. It's called Shot 0401. In fact, let's go ahead and open that and see what the final one looks like. OK, there we go.
And again let's just take a look at this. Let's just do a RAM preview and see what it looks like. So you can see a blink and then he anticipates, lifts that up. Now one thing I didn't animate was there was actually some head motion and another blink, so there are actually a few more blinks. There is a blink here where he comes up and another one at the end and essentially what I did was I just copied those keyframes and pasted them. OK? Very similar.
So you can kind of see how this first shot was done, so let's go ahead and move on to the next shot, which is a little bit more complex and I think we animated that one with sub-compositions. So essentially we broke it up into little parts and animated it a part at a times, it's just going to be a little bit more complex than this particular shot.
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