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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 the shovel motion here. I saved this file out in case you are picking this up in the middle. We are in the After Effects directory, Shot 03_00B. So again, this is just the shovel doing the dig cycle. So now, we need to match the body to the shovel. We can start by doing the torso. So let's click on Layer 33, Frank Torso and what this is basically just the body, in fact if you want, you can move some Position keys here.
So as he rears up here, I want the body to come up just a little bit and then when it comes down, I want the body to come down and then lean back. Now, one of the things we did do was we put in some Puppet tool pins here. In fact, if we click on the Puppet effect you can pretty much see these Puppet tool things. So we have some stuff for his torso, so we can actually bend him over a little bit. So when he kind of digs in, we can give him a little bit of a waist bend, which will help.
Let's start by moving him a little bit. So I'm going to go ahead and just put Position and Rotation. So as he comes up, I'm going to go ahead and just move his body up just a little bit in Position to move him up and rotate him just a little bit. Again, I'm trying to kind of almost match the arms a little bit, not too much. So now, he comes up and then we've got Frame 9 is that maximum there.
And so now, we are going to bring him down a little bit and maybe rotate him- well again, we can't worry too much about Rotation because we have got these feet here. We can actually do a lot of that with a puppet pin. And then, he lifts it up and throws it over his shoulder and at that point, actually I'm going to start here. I'm going to copy those keys at Frame 0 and paste them, so that way he is up and then I'm going to bring him just a little bit more and maybe just rotate him back just a little bit.
Again, I'm really watching his feet here. So watch. He puts it down and then tosses it up. Now, we have to bring him back to the cycle point. So I'm going to go ahead and copy and paste this key here that was at 0 so that maybe we have got an exact match. So it goes down up, down up, pretty good. So now, we have to also animate the bend of the torso. So we can go to the Puppet tool. I have actually two of them on here but the one that's active is called Puppet 2, and we have got some puppet pins here.
Puppet 4 is the shoulders. Puppet 3 and 2 are the bottom point and Puppet 1 is the middle of the character. So let's go ahead and set keys for all of these. So when it comes up, we don't need a puppet pin at that point, but we do need to set some keys here. So I'm going to copy and paste those keys. And then at Frame 9, I'm going to select Pin 4 and bend him over just a little bit. OK? Just a little bit.
Right here, we might even want to bend him back. And then as he comes up, again we are going to rotate him back because he is tossing it over his shoulder and then, I'm going to select all of these keys and go to Frame 20 which is the beginning of our cycle and paste them. So now, I really only animated his shoulders. I really didn't animate much else. The lower part of his body was pretty much solid.
So now, we have got that motion. Now, if you notice, these arms really don't match. Well, this is where the Puppet tool comes in pretty handy and what we need to do is just start animating these arms. So, let's go ahead and start with the right arm, which is Layer 29, and I have got some puppet pins here. 3, 2, 1. 1 is the shoulder, 2 is the elbow and 3 is the wrist. So let's go ahead and set keys for those and then he comes up here.
Frame 4 is that maximum. So, what I'm going to do now is I am going to start matching these. I'm going to actually zoom in a little bit more here. Let's go ahead 50% here and there we go. So now, we can see what is going on here. So, as he comes up, what I need to do is match this to the wrist, this to the shoulder and then somewhere in between is going to be that elbow.
So, you can see that looks pretty good. And then Frame 9 is that other maximum. And I may want to turn off his head a little bit here, Frank Face. I'm going to turn off his head. Let's just deal with the body. Let's go back to the arm here. I'm going to go ahead and grab this arm, push it in and we are going to match that up as best as we can. So, that's actually a little bit far. We could actually almost- Again, I'm trying to get something that works.
Now, when his face is over this, you might not see as much so we might be able to cheat some of this. He's stretching a little much here but I think once it animates, it will be fine. So, we get it down and then Frame 14. A lot of times what I will do here is I will just kind of copy and paste that start position here so that I have kind of am going a little bit more to where it needs to be. So now, I can select his elbow and his wrist. I'm going to actually move that wrist there and then move the elbow.
So, that way, it's pretty close. And again, his head will cover some of this. There we go. Then at Frame 20 I'm going to copy and paste those original frames. Not too bad. GReat. So let's go ahead and do the same. In fact, if I want to, I can actually copy and paste the cycle for this and for the torso.
So I'm copying and pasting the cycle for the hands and the torso. Let's go head down to the torso and I'm going to go ahead and copy and paste these ones as well. In fact, I can copy all of these keys. I'm going to copy those and just again we are going to cycle it. So, now that we have got this cycle here, all we need to do is that left arm.
So let's go to the left arm here. Basically, it's just again moving puppet pins. So, I'm going to go to Frame 0, lock in my position. Frame 4 is where it comes up. And so, actually that's not too bad but again, I want to make sure I put keys on every single one of these. So, there is Frame 4, Frame 9. Move that up a little bit, and this is where he really stretches.
I'm going to try and split the difference between these three, there we go. And then, Frame 14. I'm going to try and keep that as straight as possible, there we go. Now, you can see right here. Here is one of the problems is this is rotating but this is intertwining along a straight line, look at that motion path.
So, what we have to do, we may have to go through frame by frame along these five frames and kind of sync all of these up. So I'm actually going to go through here. This is one of the places where we may have to do a little bit of groundwork. Now, the one thing you can't do with the Puppet tool yet, hopefully you will be able to soon, is be able to link puppet points hierarchically to other parts in the scene or to each other so that way you can kind of create almost like a bone structure. There we go. That didn't take too long.
Now, he has to come back to 0. So again, I'm going to copy and paste those and when he comes back to 0 again, we are intertweening here along a straight line and we can't be doing that. So, again, we are going to have through this, a frame at a time and just make sure everything kind of syncs up. In fact, I'm going to go ahead and select both of these. There we go. And we will go ahead and just finish this.
And I think this will be basically our dig cycle. Now, I haven't animated the head, but again, that's pretty simple. OK. So there. So now, we have got that hand. Notice the nice stretchy quality of this. This has got this real kind of rich animated quality to it. It's got almost like a cell animation quality. So let's go ahead and take a look at what we have. So with him, you can see we have got this nice dig cycle.
So we started to put the shovel and then just everything else matched, and it pretty much goes. So let's turn on his face and we still need to animate his head and his face and everything else, but you get the general gist of how this particular technique works, and let's play that one more time. Perfect, isn't that nice? OK, so, let's move on from here.
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