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After Effects CS3: Animating Characters

Importing Photoshop files into After Effects


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After Effects CS3: Animating Characters

with George Maestri

Video: Importing Photoshop files into After Effects

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.
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  1. 2m 26s
    1. Welcome
      1m 30s
    2. How to use the exercise files
      56s
  2. 24m 25s
    1. Project overview
      3m 12s
    2. Original storyboard
      2m 36s
    3. Organizing production directories
      3m 56s
    4. Using a rough soundtrack for shot timing
      1m 58s
    5. Creating a Leica reel in Premiere Pro
      7m 17s
    6. Tracking projects
      3m 1s
    7. Creating art in Photoshop for After Effects
      2m 25s
  3. 47m 12s
    1. Segmenting Photoshop characters
      7m 54s
    2. Importing Photoshop files into After Effects
      3m 55s
    3. Linking character parts
      5m 25s
    4. Animating blinks using Opacity
      8m 19s
    5. Animating the arm
      9m 57s
    6. Animating the needle and thread and the monster's hand
      11m 42s
  4. 54m 9s
    1. Introduction to subcompositions
      5m 32s
    2. Setting up nested compositions
      4m 29s
    3. Animating a run cycle pt. 1: Basic leg motion
      8m 45s
    4. Animating a run cycle pt. 2: Overlap and follow-through
      5m 4s
    5. Putting the girl in his arms
      8m 24s
    6. Animating a screaming girl pt. 1: The arms
      9m 49s
    7. Animating a screaming girl pt. 2: The head
      12m 6s
  5. 32m 5s
    1. The basics of the Puppet tool
      5m 37s
    2. Creating bounce with the Puppet tool
      5m 55s
    3. Dig cycles pt. 1: Introduction
      2m 9s
    4. Dig cycles pt. 2: Shovel
      4m 54s
    5. Dig cycles pt. 3: Arms and body
      11m 3s
    6. Dig cycles pt. 4: Finalizing
      2m 27s
  6. 47m 32s
    1. Creating a monster pt. 1: Introduction
      2m 35s
    2. Creating a monster pt. 2
      10m 42s
    3. Creating a monster pt. 3
      12m 34s
    4. Creating a monster pt. 4
      4m 39s
    5. Creating a monster pt. 5: Finalizing
      4m 22s
    6. Creating smoke and bubble cycles
      7m 34s
    7. Creating a dry brush effect
      5m 6s
  7. 23m 9s
    1. The basics of lip syncing
      3m 8s
    2. Setting up mouths for animation with time mapping
      7m 21s
    3. Animating the lips
      6m 23s
    4. Animating the head and body
      6m 17s
  8. 14m 54s
    1. Rendering with After Effects
      4m 4s
    2. Editing with Premiere Pro
      4m 9s
    3. Final output and audio
      6m 41s
  9. 10s
    1. Goodbye
      10s

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After Effects CS3: Animating Characters
4h 6m Intermediate Jun 18, 2008

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Organizing with storyboards, rough soundtracks, and Leica reels Creating, importing, and linking segmented character parts from Photoshop Setting up nested compositions to animate a run cycle Creating smoke and bubble cycles, and other special effects Animating lips, heads, and bodies with time mapping Editing and creating final output with Premiere Pro
Subjects:
3D + Animation Animation Character Animation
Software:
After Effects
Author:
George Maestri

Importing Photoshop files into After Effects

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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