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After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics with Ian Robinson covers some of the core principles used to create motion graphics, breaking them down into smaller groups of applied techniques in After Effects. The course explores everything from gathering inspiration to integrating traditional typography, transitional elements, animated textures, color, and more into motion graphics. Instructions for building a toolkit with templates and a style guide for future projects are also included. Exercise files accompany the course.
The theory behind creating an animatic is very similar to that of creating a storyboard; you're just trying to give the viewer a general idea as to what the animation might look like. You don't have to worry about creating easy ease and smoothing how things move around the scene. You really just want to get a rough animation rendered, so they get a general idea as to the timing and the overall feeling of the animation. Now, since our project is based off of a storyboard, let's check out the storyboard. Now as you can see, we've got this brushstroke that paints into the scene and then a quick camera move to a close-up. And then really what happens between 2, 3, and 4 is open to interpretation, because once you start getting all these different strokes appearing in the scene, it's sort of hard to tell which stroke is which.
Now this is kind of nice from the standpoint that we don't have to worry about matching this frame exactly or this frame exactly. The big key is you want to just make sure that the overarching title animation matches the general theme that you created with the title board. Now, when you are talking about text, you obviously want to make sure that that's not altered too much, so you don't have to worry about the problems with final approval. Let's go ahead and jump back to our comp here and see how we can change these four separate compositions into one finished animation.
What I typically like to do is actually start with the one composition that has the most elements in it, and looking at the board, you can tell that that's the Board_04 comp. So if we select Board_04 and just go up and duplicate the composition, let's rename that Title_Animatic. And make sure to double-click and open the project, so you have the Timeline open down here. And just because we want to re-create this whole animation, what I want to do is actually turn off all of the other layers except for the camera and the background.
And we will start with this initial brushstroke. Now, since this is already positioned within the scene, what I will do is just go ahead and copy this initial layer, rather than having to worry about manipulating the other layers that we had in the other comp. Command or Ctrl+C and Command or Ctrl+V. Since that didn't match up quite exactly in the scene here, I know most of the time that's caused because the camera actually got moved. So let's open up the Position for the camera and see if we can move it back in the scene and reveal this 1 layer again.
And it looks like I'm actually going to have to reposition this layer up in the scene, so I can see the layer just a little bit better. There we go. And let's adjust the Rotation and Orientation, so it better matches the initial storyboard. Okay, if we look at Board_01 and then we look at this, we are actually looking pretty close. To get the animation started, I will just go ahead and set a keyframe for Position for this camera. We can do the same thing for this brushstroke layer as well.
So let's go ahead and keyframe the Position and the Rotation. Since the move appeared to be kind of quick, what I want to do is just move my playhead down around 1 second 20 frames, and we will zoom the camera into the scene. Now, since the orientation of this layer is slightly different, due to its initial position, what we will need to do is zoom in and then reposition the layer itself, so let's bring it back down in the scene.
There we go. And if we move, yeah that's a little better. And to further accentuate the camera moving close to the layer, I am going to cheat and actually adjust the scale of this layer as well. If you notice, it's only at 41%. So let's keyframe that and then here, let's keyframe it up around 100%. And if we go to Board_02, you can see, it's not quite the exact same thing, but honestly, for this, it's pretty darn close for right now.
Let's just go ahead and move it back a little bit. Here we can look. If you want, you can adjust the orientation, et cetera, but I think you guys get the general idea as to exactly how this is playing out. So we have our initial move that's happening here, and now what we need to do is move on between Board_02 and Board_03. Just to have a better idea as to what's going on, let's look at the overall storyboard. So here we can go through.
Okay, so now like I said, between 2 and 3, it's open to interpretation. Let's go back to our Title_Animatic and actually start enabling some of these other layers, and let's see if anything sort of panned out in a similar fashion to Board_03. And yeah, some of them actually seem to work here a little bit. Let's move this up in the scene, see if we can see what's going on.
And if we look back at Board_03, okay, yeah that's actually working kind of nicely. Let's just move this down here. Here we go, and this other layer that we have turned on. There we go. Let's just position this slightly differently in the scene. Now I know it looks like that spun around, but again, I think this is looking pretty close.
Let's just go ahead and rotate its orientation. There we go. Okay, so now we have the two swirls kind of meeting each other there. Perfect! So now that we have these positioned, let's go ahead and add some keyframes for them to reveal on the scene. In the final animation these brushstrokes will actually stroke on, but again, since this isn't animatic, we don't need to worry about actually creating the animation just yet.
So let's just slide these elements into the scene. First things first. Let's look at our camera and you notice, okay, we have our basic keyframe here. That's good. We want our move to happen, and as this move is happening, we want these elements to slide into the scene. So, let's start with our playhead right around 110 and select these layers and just move them out of the scene.
And Alt or Option+P to set a Position keyframe. Do the same thing for the upper layer. And now if we move to around 220, we can go ahead and bring these elements back into the scene. There we go. And actually I brought that first one in a little too far.
Okay, so if we move here, you notice, well, that's not quite working, but that's perfectly fine. All we have to do is just trim the layers. So if we just go ahead and select each of these layers, making sure our playhead is positioned on the first keyframe, with both layers selected, hold down Alt or Option and hit the Left Bracket key, , which is just to the right of the P key. That will trim the layer's in point, so now they reveal themselves onto the scene. So now, we've sort of hit Board_03, but notice this swoop is happening.
So really, what we need to do is move this out of the way now. Let's go ahead and select it. And rather than moving its position, let's just go ahead and rotate this layer. So I am just going to go ahead and press R, and let's adjust the orientation a little bit, and now we can move its position down.
Now it may have looked like we've destroyed what we had done earlier, but we really didn't. All we need to do is just making sure not to select the Orientation. There we go. Let's go and slide that down there, so now you can see how we have this animation, okay, so that's roughed out. And now we just have to reveal the title between 2 seconds and the final reveal at 7 seconds. So let's go ahead and work on setting some more keyframes and revealing some other elements in the scene.
Let's look at frame 4, okay. So the biggest thing with frame 4 is this big swoop that's happening right here in this swoop on the side. So it looks like all these other layers just kind of slowly drifted through the scene. So let's make sure we are in the right comp, move our playhead to around 5 seconds, and work on repositioning some of these elements in the scene. Let's go ahead and move our initial stroke layer off to the side. You don't have to move it completely out of the scene, but as you can see, now we've got our animation coming in and it just sort of drifts out.
Let's make these other two layers drift around the scene as well. I don't like this bottom stroke here, so I am just going to move this down in the scene. We can do the same thing with this Splat layer here. Let's move this up and over. To accentuate the length of this move, let's just go ahead and move this out. There we go.
And now we just need to animate that stroke spinning in. So if we go to Board_04, let's see if we can select this 1 layer, just so we can see exactly which curve it is. And of course, it's the last one we select. So it's this Wave/PaintStrokes. Let's go here and see if we can turn on Wave/PaintStrokes. And there is it. It just looks like the orientation is slightly off, so let's work on the orientation here. There we go. Let's look at Board_04.
Okay, so we just need to move it up in the scene. I can rotate it a little bit more. So this is where I'd like its final reveal to be, so let's go ahead and set a keyframe right at 7 seconds. I want to keyframe its orientation as well as its position. And now, let's move back in the Timeline here a little bit.
And first thing, let's adjust the Orientation and Rotation because I want this to kind of spin in, so let's adjust this parameter here, the Z Rotation, and let's move our layer down and out of the scene a little bit here. So let's see what happens. Yeah, that's looking a little bit better. Now, obviously I'd probably want to mask this off, but again, for right now, I think we're doing okay.
What I will do instead is actually at a slow fade on this layer. So we'll just Option+T or Alt+T on the PC, and we will set that to 0 and just move up a little bit in the Timeline here and just fade it in. So as you can see, now we've got the stroke fading and spinning in. Now the only thing really left is to actually animate the type. So typically I would save the project, but for right now, let's go ahead and reveal the type layers.
If you read the descriptions of the storyboard, there were several active words like flickering and floating and different things like that. For right now, what I want to focus on is just the general move of each layer. So as I'm looking at the layers here, I'm noticing that Artist had two layers, and Revealing had two layers, and the had two layers. So first thing we want to make sure that the duplicate layers are parented properly to each layer.
So let's just go ahead and parent Artist 2 to Artist and revealing 2 to revealing, and parent the 2 to the. Now that we have the Type actually parented, we can set some basic keyframes. Now I am just envisioning some general floating that's going on here. And if we go back into our storyboards here, you can see that the word revealing kind of came from right to left. So let's go ahead and keyframe revealing first.
And we will do this backwards, so move your playhead to around 7 seconds, and let's press Alt or Option+P to set the position for revealing. Just so there is a nice slow move on the type, let's move our playhead to around 5 seconds. Just drag to the right. So as you can see, the type slides in right to left. And again, this is a rough animation, so it's okay that we didn't add any ease. Let's do the same thing with the.
We will offset the animation just a little bit, so instead of moving our playhead back to the first keyframe where revealing is, we we'll just move it right to around 5:17 and Alt+P or Option+P. And let's actually move that keyframe we just set to the end. And if we hold down Shift, that way we'll make sure it lines up with this keyframe. Now, all we have to do is just drag the X parameter and you notice, the word 'the' is now sliding from left to right.
Now we can do the same thing for Artist, but Artist, I just want to scale in a little bit with its move. So we'll move our playhead back a little bit to around 5:23, and again, I'm just moving it back a little bit to stagger the overall animation, and let's Alt+P or Option+P for Position and Alt+S or Option+S for scale. And again, I don't want these final keyframes to be right here in the Timeline, so let's drag those down to the right, and let's just reposition the Type slightly here by dragging it to the left, down, and we will scale it down a little bit.
So now you can see we have our type that's revealing-- there we go--with our final resolve. To further accentuate the roughness of this, you could leave the type on the screen. I don't like doing that, so what I am going to do is just trim each layer of type to start at its first keyframe using Alt+Left Bracket or Option+Left Bracket. And again, that bracket key is right next to the letter P on your keyboard. So again, make sure you move to the first keyframe of your sets of words and Alt+Left Bracket or Option+Left Bracket to trim.
And if you wanted to be fancy, you could go ahead and actually add a slow fade between the words, but now, believe it or not, we're actually set for our animatic render. Let's go ahead and select the comp, go up under Comp and say Make Movie, and let's create our animatic. Now, most of the time for the animatic, you could go ahead and render Full or even Half resolution. I will set mine to Half, so it renders a little quicker. And if you go to the Output Module, under Lossless, change the Post-Render Action to Import.
That way once the animatic is rendered, it will automatically import back into your project. Now, let's go ahead and hit Render and watch our animation once it's finished rendering. Now with our QuickTime back in the composition, let's go ahead and double-click, choose 100% for the View and let's view our animation. As you play the video back, you can see the animation is very rough.
Now that's the point behind an animatic. It is important to just get a basic animation down, so you can actually know what direction you want to push things in. Now whether or not you want to show this into the client is kind of your choice. Typically, I wouldn't show something this rough to my client unless it was somebody that I worked with for a very long time and they knew my creative process. Most of the time, I'd still want to kind of tweak things a little bit more, add a few different fades, and just kind of smooth things out a little bit more before we show the client.
But all in all, I think you've got a good picture of the overall process for creating an animatic. Like I said, it's just creating a rough, so when you get to the point where you can actually add the polish and finish your animation, you'll know exactly what you need to do because you will have seen it play back in real time.
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