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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.
So now we have Frank running through the scene with the bride in his arms. The next thing we need to do is actually animate the bride herself. Let me show you what that's going to look like and then we can go ahead and do that. So this is kind of like towards the end of the shot here or towards the final version of this and you could see she is basically just waving her arms and screaming. Let's take a look at this. This is basically just her composition so she is essentially again just waving and screaming and notice how her body is still.
We're actually moving her body when we move the composition here in the final output. So, let's go ahead and open the project where we left it off, which is Shot07_00d, and let's bring that in. And what do we have here? Basically we have the shot and the bride is not moving yet. She is kind of dead, so let's bring her to life. I'm going to go over to the Bride composition and I'm going to zoom in just a little bit and so that way we can kind of get her centered in the screen.
And, I'm going to work with her arms first. Now the arms were built just basically in two pieces. There is this one layer here called the forearm and notice how it also has the hand on it. I didn't feel a need to really separate that out because it was kind of a small hand so you really wouldn't notice the effect too much. Then we have this thing called wrist but actually the wrist is really just the little piece of cloth that's hanging off of her wrist, so that's the forearm, that's the wrist.
And then we also have Left Arm One so that's the left arm. We have got the same thing over here for the right arm. We have got the forearm, the wrist, which is essentially that piece of cloth, and the actual arm itself. So we have arm, wrist and forearm. So those are the layers that we are going to work with and you can notice their numbers like 11 to 16 in this combination and then I think somewhere in here we have actually got the bride's torso which is layer 10.
So let's go ahead and start animating this. Let's start with the arms and then we will move on to the head and the lip sync in the next lesson. So let's go ahead with this arm. Probably the best thing to do is just kind of start with kind of almost the middle position here actually we could start with her arms. Let's just go ahead and start with her arms up so I have got this all here, I have got this all kind of hierarchied. Again I have got it all linked up and ready to go so I'm going to just expand these so the forearm and the wrist and the left arm.
Now I'm scrolling a lot because I have got the small screen here but l am also going to expand the right arm here. So let's start with the left one to begin with. So I'm actually going to take the left arm, Left Arm One is layer 13, and I'm going to go ahead and just key Rotation. We are really not going to worry too much about Position in this one. So I'm just going to go ahead and key that here. I am not at zero here so let's go ahead and go to zero and I'm going to go ahead and key that at zero. In fact, I can key Rotation for all of these on this particular arm and then I'm going to make a cycle.
So how long is she going to be waving her arms? Well I don't want exactly the same cycle as his run, which I believe is 15 or 16 frames, so I'm going to move this out. In fact I'm going to zoom out a little bit here so I have little bit more room to scrub. I'm going to move this to about 18 so that way we are not in sync with what everything else is doing so that way it will look little bit more natural and I'm going to go to her left arm and I'm going to rotate it out. So, now it goes out and then I'm just going to make another cycle here.
So let's just make a standard cycle, let's make it 36 frame cycle so that way it's not exactly the same. So now it goes back and forth. But we also have to worry a little bit about how this is going to actually animate. So when the arm pulls the hand and the wrist and the forearm out, this is actually going to drag behind. It's a common animation technique called Drag. So I'm going to move somewhere towards the middle of the end here, so somewhere around here, and I'm going to bend this.
Oops. I'm sorry. I'm going to actually grab the forearm here and I'm going to bend it, it's is actually going to bend back. So as she rotates it back. And then when she rotates forward so she starts rotating forward at 18, I'm going to go 2 or 3 frames after that, maybe 4 frames after that, and then I'm going to straighten this back out again.
So now, right there it seems like it's going a little bit too fast so maybe spread those keys out just a little bit, there we go. So, now I'm going to go to 32 and go ahead and copy and paste that frame there so now we have got a little bit of- there we go.
So now as she waves her arms, it's a little bit more natural, it gets little bit more natural bend in her arm. So what frame is that? That's Frame 15 and then we unbend it at what? Frame 26. So I'm just kind of mentally taking a note of that because I am going to do the next arm. I'm going to do the right arm. So let's go head back to zero and let's go ahead and make that same motion.
So I'm going to key all the Rotations at zero for the right arm, move forward to about 18 and rotate this forward. If we want, we could also offset this by a frame or two to give it little bit more life but I'm just going to do it exactly on the beat so that both arms move the same. It's such a short animation, I don't think you are going to really notice too much of a difference if I offset them. And then I'm going to go ahead and copy and paste that one frame here on right arm so that we have a cycle.
So now I have got both arms moving the same and then I'm going to go ahead and bend that forearm. Go up to right forearm and bend it just a little bit and then I'm going to straighten it out right around here around Frame 26 or so again just straighten it out. So now it looks pretty good. Now the only other thing we need to do is we need to worry about these little pieces of cloth that are kind of hanging out for wrist so those are actually called left wrists.
So as it moves down, it's going to happen, drag is going to push this up. So I'm going to rotate this so that it moves up and then when it comes down like this, it's going to drag back a little bit. So actually I'm going to kind of set a key here and then as it moves up, this is going to kind of move back like that.
Then I'm going to go to Frame 36 and then I'm going to copy and paste that keyframe so we have a nice cycle, there we go. It looks good. Now let's just do this for the other wrist. So, right wrist. Again it's moving down so that's going to drag back like that and then when it comes back up it's going to drag this way and then at Frame 36, you copy and paste the final.
Now this one doesn't have as much give effect, we can probably rotate this just a little bit more right here and maybe even overshoot this just a little bit on this side. Here's a little hint here. We've got this little piece of cloth on this side of the line. If it goes over to the other side of that line like it does right here and actually breaks through, you'll have a really strong piece of animation because the eye usually sees silhouettes and so if you go all the way over to the other side, it will make a lot stronger than if you do something where you kind of keep it right there. This is a lot stronger than this.
So, let's do that. See that gives a lot more bounce and that's pretty much all we need for that. So that's the basics of the arm so let's go ahead and in the next lesson, we'll go through the head and the facial animation and the scream.
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