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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 animated the arms. In fact let me just scrub through that. I just copied some keys to cycle that arm animation. And now we have to work with the head and the face and actually do the lipsync of her screaming. Well actually we didn't do lip sync because we actually didn't have a track of her screaming. We didn't hire a voice actor for that. We just used the canned scream, which is this one here. In fact let me play that for you. (Audio: Woman screaming.) It's about a half second long, about 15-20 frames long, somewhere around there.
And because it's just a simple effect we decided to just kind of animate with that sound and then just plug in the scream afterwards. For the scream let's go ahead and work with the mouth first. Now how we animated the mouth was very simple. We just used some scale tools. The layer that is the mouth is called this one called Bigger Mouth. And if you notice here if we go to the Scale parameter here you will notice it's already scaled down a lot.
Why that is is because in the file itself this was actually a mouth that was almost as big as the frame and we wanted that because we really wanted to zoom in and go down her throat so we needed a big mouth and so I just scaled it down here so that it fit on her face and then when we actually get to the point where she's going into the camera we can make the mouth go bigger. So let's go ahead and start with this animation. I kind of wrote down the numbers as to where you have the major points of this.
I kind of animated it just kind of by eye so let me try and get this pretty close. I have the scream starting somewhere around Frame 35 or so. So let me just show you how this works. I'm going to go ahead and unlink the scale right here and I'm also going to start setting keyframes. So now if I want I can make her go like this or I can make her go like that. And so I'm going to set just an initial keyframe here kind of almost like a mouth closed position. You know I may want to have it position there because sometimes you may want to move this mouth up or down just a little bit as her mouth opens so you might need that.
And if I want I will just turn the Rotation just in case. So now when a mouth opens to scream, it actually opens very, very quickly over about 3 or 4 frames so I'm going to go 3 frames ahead to Frame 38 and I'm going to make kind of like my extreme here. I'm just going to go ahead and open up her mouth and so now she goes like that. And if I want to I could actually have maybe a few keyframes down here at 0, in fact I'm just copy and paste these.
And maybe just have a few, like maybe if she is taking a breath or something like that. Maybe just kind of like a little bit of motion there. And then right before she goes open I kind of want to have almost like an anticipation. Remember how we did anticipation with some of the other animation? We can actually just kind of shrink it just a little bit and bring it down so just kind of make almost- Like that. And then I'm going to hold it open and around Frame 50 or so. In fact what I can do here is I can just copy and paste that open frame.
In fact I may want to just reduce it just a little bit, bring it down like a point or two just because as you scream your mouth will get smaller just naturally as your jaw relaxes, like that. Ah! OK. (Laughs.) I might scream here. And then another 3 or 4 frames for it to close. So I'm just going to go ahead and select this kind of closed mouth position and so now in fact I can probably extend it even a little bit more right here There we go. And then what I can do is I can just go ahead and do that again for that second scream.
So I'm going to go move ahead a little bit here and I'm just going to kind of again just slide in kind of a hold key here. And maybe expand it just a little bit because you want to kind of give it just a little bit of life. Now her head is going to be moving as well so you won't really notice this as much. And then I'm going to go ahead and create another open mouth position right here. And what I did before was actually kind of close it down just a little bit and then I opened it again at somewhere around Frame 85 or so.
So what I did was kind of almost like she is kind of gasping for breath. She kind of opens her mouth silently and then the scream happens again. And then she screams again. To the point here where she is kind of coming into that frame and so what I need to do now is expand that mouth to the point where we fly down her throat and I believe this happens somewhere around Frame 100 or so. I'm trying to remember.
And so at this point I'm really going to start expanding this a lot and just making this mouth really, really big. So then I'm going to go over here and now this is a point where I'm kind of just switching between these two. And here let's go back to the point right before she goes really wide. I'm going to go ahead and copy that Position and Rotation key so that way when it comes here I can actually move this off of her face and get it into the right place.
So all I have to do here is just move this up a little bit and over. And now we got it kind of blacked out, so something like that. I don't know if that's exactly the way it was in the animation but it's pretty close. So now what we have to do is add in some head motion. So at this point when it's like this, I want the head to be still because this is really kind of a matching frame. So I'm going to go over to the bride's head here, Bride Face on layer number 6, and we are going to start setting some keyframes here.
Well the first thing I want to do is open kind of a lock in Position, Scale and Rotation for this frame, at Frame 100 where she comes into here. And then I'm just going to work backwards from there. So before her mouth goes open or before she screams, I want her head to kind of come down. I want her head to anticipate that. So as she is moving, she is also bouncing though because what's happening as she is bouncing with Frankenstein so I'm going to go ahead and start animating some keys here.
So first thing I'm going to do is just go ahead and set some rough keys. I'm just going to go ahead and just jog this a little bit and do some rough keys for Rotation and Scale and all that. So that way I have something to start with. And then somewhere around Frame 17 I'm going to go ahead and just move her head down. In fact one of the things I can do is I'm just kind of going to free form this and then when she screams, I want her to kind of come down a little bit more and then come back up because when she screams I want this to be like that.
So that adds a lot of emphasis to that scream. Moving the head when she screams adds a lot of emphasis to it. And now I'm just going to go ahead and settle that head back down after the scream and just keep doing that. Then she is going to go ahead and scream again somewhere around here. There it is, OK. So again I'm just going to go ahead and move this head down just a little bit right before and then right when it comes up I will go ahead and move that head up and maybe give a little bit of Rotation to it.
And then just maybe play with Rotation a little bit right here so that way- and let's just see how she looks. Now this is just rough. It might not be exactly... There she goes. So basically that's what I have done. Now the other thing I did, and I showed you how to do this in the other lesson, was you also want to add in some blinks to add some realism to this. Now how we add in a blink is just essentially by we have an Eyes Closed layer and if we animate the Opacity of that up then basically we have a blink. So we basically animate her eyes and her eye whites off and animate her eyes closed on.
So what I'd like to do is when she screams I'd like to close her eyes so let's go ahead here to Frame say 34 and I'm going to set Opacity for Eyes Closed and Opacity for these two layers here, which is her eyes and that little white thing in the whites of her eyes, essentially the white behind her eyes. So right there I have got this Opacity at 0 and these Opacities at 100.
So at Frame 35 I'm going to go ahead and animate this up and these down and that gives me my little blink. And then I'm going to animate that off again so what I can do is just select these keys, copy and paste them to kind of hold those eyes closed. And then select this key right before there just the one before there, and actually I'll go one after. So I'm setting this at 45 so at 46 I'm going to copy this frame or this key right there. Copy, paste, copy, paste.
And then she screams again right there. Now once I've got that all I have to do is copy and paste all of these keyframes and I've got my second blink. So let's see how that works. Blink and so on. The timing on that second blink will probably be adjusted a little bit, but you get the idea of it. In fact let's go ahead and readjust that just a bit so I'm going to go ahead and select these three keyframes and just move those back just a hair.
So let's go ahead and take a look at what the final of this looks like. I'm going to go ahead and open a project. We're going to go ahead and open up 00F. And let's take a look at that. OK, so there she screams and then she closes her eyes again so I had the blink a little bit earlier and she screams. And here is what she looks like comped in. OK, so basically I gave you the principles and you pretty much see how that works so let's go ahead and move on from here just a more complex stuff like the Puppet tool to give her a little bit more life.
We will do that in another chapter.
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