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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.
Once we have a rough audio track and storyboard we can kind of merge them together to make a Leica reel or a storyboard reel. Now for us we are just doing this for our own internal purposes. Sometimes you'll want to do this for client so you may want to up the quality a little bit. We actually did a very rough one. But let me show you a little bit about the process of doing this. We used Premiere so actually I am opening up Premiere here, but you can certainly use any video editor. If you are using Final Cut or whatever.
Really all we are doing here is matching audio to still images. In fact you could even do it in After Effects if you wanted to do it that way. For some reason we kind of have settled on Premiere as our Leica reel and final editing at this particular studio. So let's go ahead and import some files here. Let's go to the Desktop\Exercise Files\Monsterpiece\audi and that particular track that I played you in the last lesson was called Monsterpiece-track. I can certainly drag that to the Timeline but I also need some visuals to go with this.
Now I have the original storyboard files here so I am just going to import those. Those are actually in that same Monsterpiece directory under Storyboard. So I am going to click and drag those two in and those are still the ones that I showed you at the very beginning which have 1, 2, 3, 4... 9 images on this one and I believe like 6 or so on the second image. So these are images that really have multiple storyboard panels on them. Now one thing I could do is I could actually bring this into Photoshop and crop them and save them and create a series of 15 or so storyboard panels.
But again I am doing a rough Leica reel for my own purposes. So I'm just actually going to use this one image and I'm just going to zoom in on the particular parts. Now what I'm doing here in Premiere may be a little bit different from how you do it in Final Cut. You can also do this in After Effects very easily as well, but let me show you a little bit about this particular process. What I am going to do is click and drag this storyboard panel here and it shows up here. This is my Edit window here. This is actually my Source window here, for those who don't know Premiere.
So this is where my actual content is coming. And I can actually here that's scrubbed against this soundtrack here. So if I hit Play... (Movie: ...MonsterPieces. Today's MonsterPiece is Frankenstein.) OK. so now I have a little cut right here between Frankenstein and when we actually start this, so I can stretch this one still image so that actually goes from the beginning to the end of this particular scene.
But I only really want this first panel because this is actually showing all of them. So what I can do in Premiere, just double-click on this and go over to Effect. When you go to Effect what you can do here is- I don't want to change the opacity, I want to change the motion. So we go to Motion here. We can actually scale this up. And if I scale it up to- actually I have this number already written down here- about 335 I can pretty much get one of these panels in here.
So it's a little over 300% zoom and you get one of these panels. And then what we can do is use this position ones here. So you can see I am just clicking and dragging on this particular numbers to actually position which one of these panels we want to see. In fact I have already written down my numbers here, so 800 for height and somewhere around 1000 for the x-position here. Actually that's a little bit off so I can actually just click and drag this.
So now that I have this pretty much set, I've got my first panel done. Now I need to do all of these subsequent panels. Now I click just drag this from my bin and do that zoom thing again with this particular image but the easier thing to do is take this one that I have already zoomed and just copy it. So I just hit Copy and Paste. OK. Or Ctrl+C Ctrl+V on the PC; if you are in Final Cut, it's going to be Apple+C and Apple+V.
And now I can take the second storyboard panel and I can just again, using the positioning controls- let me just type in a number here. I can just go on to that next panel. Somewhere around there, somewhere... So this is a part where it says meet Dr. Frankenstein and his assistant Fritz. So now I have got that one already set. So I can now cut to this. Notice that there is actually a pretty big space in the dialogue and what we are going to do here is start cutting and manipulating the dialogue track so that we have a good even flow of the audio.
And again this is a scratch track so I might leave a little bit of space and I am going to err on the side of going a little bit long because that way we can always cut down. If we animate a little too much it's a lot easier to cut it than to add more. So once we have done all of that, let me go ahead and open up the project for the actual Leica reel that we finished. And I am going to go into my Desktop again, Exercise Files. And there is the Premiere directory and under that is Monsterpiece Leica 01.
You will find that. And if you open this it's actually going to ask for the file. So it's going to ask for Storyboard.jpg. I actually renamed that to Storyboard1. So if you just select that it will pick that up and then it's going to ask for monsterpiece track.mp3 and there is one called monsterpiece track.wav, which is what we are actually going to be using here. And here it is, OK. So it's essentially what we have been doing which is taking these individual panels and zooming in. Let me go ahead and mute the audio here so I can just scrub through this.
So we actually are scrubbing through all of our shots. And we get some timing here for like where he is zooming out. So we can get some nice timing so we can kind of get a sense of how that plays. So here it comes. He kind of zooms in and out and then he reaches in and grabs Fritz and drags him off. Again I am trying to get a rough sense of this timing and then there is a couple places here where I actually did a little bit of zoom in, again using this Motion Controls here. So for example, with this one where we zoom into her mouth, I am just setting keyframes.
In Premiere where you can set keyframes for this position and scale. And for opacity as well so you can fade out. Again very similar thing, we are kind of doing a truck in here and then the end. So that's the basic Leica reel and you can certainly play that back. And we just saved it out to a QuickTime so that we had it as a reference. Now another thing that we needed to do with this, from this we actually create a tracking sheet and I am going to show you that in the next lesson.
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