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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.
Let's go ahead and start blocking out the animation of the scene. We're not going to go through the whole shot. Let's just block out the first line of dialog here. And if we want, we can scrub through that. If you want, you can hold down the Ctrl key and start scrubbing through the timeline. In fact, if you want, we can bring up our Audio Waveform here. And you can see him saying-- (Character: Oh boy!) So let's go ahead and just animate that "oh boy!" So the first thing we want to do is get a first pose. Where is he starting from? So let's scroll back to frame 0.
Now in the previous lesson, we set all the keyframes for this. So we can just start rotating joints and putting his arms into place here. If I bring the arms down here, with the palms forward, that's not a very natural look. So let's go ahead and take this right-hand, and let's take the Time Remap, and then I'm going to just jog that over-- I think hand number two looks like the good one. So I'm just going to get that nice relaxed hand pose. And then if I want, I could do the same for the left-hand.
And let's go ahead and put that to Hand 2. Again, that's not a very dynamic pose. Let's give him a little bit more, some sort of something different in his left arm here. And I think I'm just going to put his hand on his hip, okay. At least that gives him something to do, and makes him little bit asymmetrical. Let's take the torso, maybe rotate it just a little bit, because he's leaning to one side. Another thing we can do is we can do a head turn. Now one of the things I'm trying to do with this animation is I want to get a lot of different techniques into it, so that way I test out my rig.
And one of those things I want to test is make sure that my head turns work. So I'm going to go up my Head Control and on my HEAD_TURN slider, let's go ahead and turn him a little bit. Let's start right about there. And then another thing we can do is we want to play with eye direction. So let's select our left and right pupil. In fact, this time I'm going to kind of zoom in a little bit here. So select our left and right pupil, and then let's go ahead and move those. Let's say he's looking that way.
So that's a good first pose. In fact, let's go ahead and fit this. So there's my first pose. Now we need to have a sense of where this is going. So I'm going to zoom in a little bit on my timeline here, and let's scrub through it. (Character: Oh boy!) Now what I'm trying to do is get a rough picture as to where the major changes in the dialog happen. So if we scrub through here, you can see that he starts talking around frame 12 or so.
Somewhere between 10 and 20 actually, probably more around frame 15 or 16. He says oh, and that's a very long vowel. And then in the mid 30s he stops. So right around 32-33 is where that kind of tapers off. And then the word boy, the word boy starts around frame 40 or so. Those are three or four major points, so where he starts saying "oh," the space between "oh" and "boy," and then the word "boy" as well.
Let's go ahead and relax him out of the pose right around frame 12. So one of the first things I want to do is to get him facing forward. So I'm going to go ahead and face him forward. Okay, so I'm just rotating the head, so I'm using my HEAD_TURN slider here. Rotate that forward. And again, I just want to block out this pose. I'm going to go back over and do several passes to in-between this. When his head turns like this, you'll kind of want it to dip; you want to blink over it. There are a couple of things that we want. But right now, I'm just trying to get the major poses.
So I'm going to select my Rotate tool, and let's go ahead and just get this hand rotated out. We want to kind of relax that hand, so right now he is kind of doing this. Then I also want to add in some keyframes for these other body parts. So I'm just going to jog them a little bit to force a keyframe. Now if I want, I can go and create a keyframe, and that also changes his torso a little bit. And again, just a little bit of animation, so he is kind of coming straight up there. You can see how that's working.
And then his head, again, I'm just going to rotate that so it's kind of little bit more balanced. I'm not going to worry so much about the eyes right now. Okay, so now I have some basic keyframes for that. One of the things I also want to do is just kind of scroll through some of this. Like, for example, the right-hand. You can see that I don't have a keyframe for that. So one of the things you can do is just do a copy, Command+C or Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V or Command+V, and just do a copy, paste of those places where you don't really have keyframes.
And this just kind of locks in the pose. If we want, we can go through, for example, the forearm. We can see we actually have a rotation key for the forearm. And that's mostly going to rotate; we're not going to do motion on it. So we're not going to do translation. As he comes down, you'll see I'm going to actually start animating the tie. And then we also have some for the torso. I just want to make sure I've got some rotation keys here, just in case I rotate it down the road. Once I get one of these major poses, I want to make sure I've got keyframes for all the major things that make that up.
Now he is kind of going like this. Okay, so now he is going to say "oh!" (Character: Oh!) I want him to kind of wind up and anticipate that word "boy." So we're basically going to just extend him a lot. So one of the things I want to do is I want to lower his body. As he comes in here, I want him to going to coil up, almost like a spring. And then when he says "boy," he is going to pop up. I'm going to use my Select tool, select my torso, and just kind of move him down.
So at 32 is where I'm going to put all these keyframes. Select that torso. Move him down a little bit. When I move him down like this, the legs are actually compressing, but to make him more realistic, we're going to have to spread out the knees. But we're going to do that just a little bit here. And then select the arms. And again, I'm just going to use Rotate and get kind of a good rotation here. I'm going to rotate the torso a little bit. Let's hear this.
(Character: Oh boy!) You can see how he is kind of winding up "oh." And let's go ahead and select the head and move that down. So with his head, I'm going to select the HEAD_CTL node and just drop that head down. I'm going to really drop it down, okay. I want him to wind up here. Rotate a little bit. And then another thing I can do is I can actually take this tie--scroll all the way down here, find the Tie-- and let's move that down as well.
So I'm going to go ahead and select that and drop that down, along with the head. So now you can see it's starting to come down. So let's try and get this tie down just a little bit more. So when I bring the tie down, it looks almost like he's leaning over. It kind of just gives us a little bit of an optical illusion. So we're going-- And now I've got something going on here with this arm. For some reason I scaled it, so let's go ahead and just un-scale it there. Unlock that.
So I want to keep that at 100, 100. There we go, okay. So, "oh," and then when he goes "boy," he is going to come back up. So we're going to start that at 40, and I'm just going to move the torso up and then drop the arms. As these arms come back, of course, the wrists are going to drag behind. But as he is pushing up, the head is going to stay down.
But I will bring the tie up a little bit. And then at 45, we're going to go pretty high up as well. He is going to actually hit the top of his peak here, and then his head is actually going to come up even further. In this case, I'm just going to go ahead and use the slider here to push that head up. So we've got-- (Character: Oh boy!) Okay, oh boy! But the legs aren't really working.
We need to do a few things with these legs. So let's scroll down, and let's start working with the knees. So I've got a right and a left knee. So as he comes down at 12, I want to make sure that I set a keyframe for that. And then again, at 32 we're just going to take each one of these and kind of just bring it out in X. So I'm just going to use the X slider and just bring each one of these out.
So he's kind of going...boy. Each one of those is going to come in, but his legs are also going to start coming off the ground. So one of the things I want to do is select each of these ankles and bring those off the ground as well. So 32, so right there he is kind of jumping. So let's go ahead and make that a real jump. So at 32, I want to make sure that I have transform keys for that, just to lock it on the ground. And then let's go ahead here and then at 40, you want that to start to come off the ground a bit.
I want to bring that up and maybe even rotate it just a little bit, maybe even bring that toe down a little bit. But let's go ahead and just play with this right now. So right ankle, I'm just going to bring it up, rotate it just a little bit. So right now it's going, but you can see that this process takes a while. So let's just do a quick RAM preview of what we have right now. (Character: Oh boy!) Okay, so that "oh boy," he is not taking off fast enough.
But we can fix this, and we can keep going over it. And at this point, I'm going to stop, because really what we're looking at is just the process: how do we animate all these different parts of the character? So go ahead, and just work through the scene yourself and animate it the way that you think it should be animated.
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