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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 are going to import our Photoshop file into After Effects. Now we should have everything set up, but before we do that, I want to go through some of the little gotchas that can happen when bringing Photoshop into After Effects. One of the first ones is, let's go through our layers and the first thing I will look for is things like Groups. Now I put this one in here on purpose just so I could show it to you. If you bring something like this that has a grouping like this, it can mess up when it comes into After Effects because it's going to create sub-compositions and sometimes you don't want that.
So probably the best thing to do is to just get rid of it. So I am just going to go ahead and select this and just go Delete Group and make sure that this file is as flat as possible. So if you are bringing in your own art, just get rid of the groups. OK? And the next thing I want to make sure is that everything is named. So let's go through and just make sure everything has a descriptive name and it does and the other thing is let's go ahead and delete any sort of layer effects just stuff like this. Like if you put a drop shadow or glow or something like that on there, what's going to happen is if you bring something like that into After Effects, After Effects has to recalculate that and it's not very fast at doing it so it can actually really, really bog down your interactivity within After Effects.
So it's best to just delete it, rasterize it. If you delete it, you can always recreate the same effect in After Effects using the After Effects Engine and it's going to be much, much faster. So once we have all that done, we will go ahead and save it out. Now it's already saved out and I am going to go ahead into my After Effects project that's going to be an empty project and then all I have to do is either just go File, Import here or if I right-click on the PC, I can just go Import, File. And then this particular file is on my Desktop under Exercise Files, Monsterpiece, under Assets/psd.
This is scene 4, so it's going to be Frank Scene 04. And are we importing as footage, composition or cropped layers? Well if we import as footage, that's going to just import it as a kind of flat file, so let's go ahead and import it as a composition. Do we want editable layer styles? Yes- or we can certainly merge those into footage, but we don't have any so it's not going to be that big of deal. So I am just going to leave this at the default, hit OK, and it's going to import that file and all of the layers.
Now this is actually kind of a big file, about 10 megabyte somewhere around there. These tend to be around that size and it's also a 2k file so it's actually a pretty big file. So let me show you how it comes in. It creates a composition with the same name as our After Effects file and then it creates a little subfolder here with all of the layers for that file. So this is basically everything that we have. In fact, if I double-click on this composition here, you can see that this is what I have.
So all of these layers here show up in this composition here and they are all layered and ordered in the same order that you have the Photoshop file like for example if I have the background turned off, it will be turned off here. Some of these strings and arms were also turned on and off, so we can certainly play with those and so pretty much everything has come in. Now what we have to do is we have to start organizing this so that way we can animate it and that's using the Hierarchy function in After Effects. So let's go ahead and save that. It's going to be a little bit of a long lesson, so let's go ahead and cut it here and we are going to go ahead and pickup hierarchies in the next lesson.
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