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Keyframing facial expressions


From:

2D Character Animation with After Effects

with Angie Taylor

Video: Keyframing facial expressions

There's a couple of really simple techniques you can use for animation when doing things like animating facial expressions. Rather than have to animate all the different facial aspects, for example the mouth, the eyes, etcetera. you can just create some preset shapes for the facial expressions and then animate between them using time remapping. Now, I've created a composition here that contains Image files of all the different expressions that my character will have throughout the animation. And I'll sequence them into a composition.
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Watch the Online Video Course 2D Character Animation with After Effects
2h 35m Intermediate Feb 14, 2011

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In her career as an animator, Angie Taylor has developed some powerful techniques for creating quick but compelling 2D animation, and in this workshop she shares those secrets with you. Learn how to import layered files and paths from Adobe Illustrator into After Effects and how to animate flat vector artwork in both 2D and 3D space, and explore options for outputting your animations. The videos are short, focused, and solution-oriented, and all the project files are included so you can follow along as you go.

Topics include:
  • Best practices for importing source files
  • Sorting and interpreting footage
  • Animating using traditional layer-style animation
  • Creating a grouping structure for body parts
  • Animating with the Puppet tool
  • Creating stop-frame-style animation
  • Setting up control layers
  • Animating using time remapping
  • Exporting files for Flash
  • Making movies via the Render Queue
Subjects:
3D + Animation Video video2brain
Software:
After Effects
Author:
Angie Taylor

Keyframing facial expressions

There's a couple of really simple techniques you can use for animation when doing things like animating facial expressions. Rather than have to animate all the different facial aspects, for example the mouth, the eyes, etcetera. you can just create some preset shapes for the facial expressions and then animate between them using time remapping. Now, I've created a composition here that contains Image files of all the different expressions that my character will have throughout the animation. And I'll sequence them into a composition.

Now, if you want to follow along with this, this is in the Time Remapping Project, which is in the Animating Using Time Remapping Folder. And I'm in the 01 Facial Expressions Composition. So, what I"m gong to do is just try and decide which facial expressions, first of all, I want in which places. And you'll see that I've laid down some markers here already. And I did that by listening to the audio and laying down markers in time with the audio. You see there, I can see the audio levels if I select the right arm comp.

And double hit the L-key on the keyboard. I can see where the facial expressions need to happen. So basically, each time he hits the hammer, I want his head to go up and down, like this. And his eyes to close. Now, if we have a look at the nested comp you'll see the eyes closed is at the beginning. Then they're open. Then they're sideways. So, how can we select those different facial expressions? Well, we can do it using time remapping. So I'm going to select that composition and go to layer, time, enable time remapping. Now time remapping allows me to move forwards and backwards in time. So rather than scrubbing the time marker to do that I scrub a value to do that. So baiscally, if I know I want this expression to be like this at this point, I set a keyframe at that point.

If I move to the next facial expression, I also want them to be having that facial expression at that point. Okay, here, I want them to be having the closed eye facial expression again. So I'm going to scrub the timely mapping value till I'm back to that facial expression. And then here again, so I can either Scrub or Copy and Paste that last one. So I know now that his eyes are going to be closed when the hammer hits. But what about in between? Well, in between, I want him to have his open eyes face, which is that one. So one way of doing it would be to move the time marker there, create a keyframe at that point, and then just drag that to where I want his face to be regular. And again, I want it to be like that before the keyframe, so I'll just Copy and Paste it.

Okay. So now his eyes are closed here so I'll just open them by removing that key frame. And now as we move through, his eyes are open, then they go closed, then they open again. And now you see they're gradually closing again. I don't really want that to happen. Okay. So, I'm going to correct another keyframe here. Now, the alternative would be to Toggle Hold this keyframe. And then it will hold on that value until it meets that next value, okay. And then what we can do here is just Copy and Paste that first Toggle Held key frame and then, again, Toggle Hold here. And then the last one.

Okay, so, now we have him closing his eyes, when the hammer hits. Opening them again. Closing his eyes again, when the hammer hits. Opening them again. Closing his eyes, when the hammer its. Opening again and exactly the same there. Now, at this point, I want him to have a sudden realization that something's happening. So, at two seconds, what I'm going to do is move forwards in time till I get to that expression. Now this time I don't want to toggle hold, I want it to be a gradual change. So I'm going to change that, take off toggle hold keyframe so that gradually changes from there to there.

Okay. So he starts to look around and sees that somethings up. Again I want to take toggle hold off this one as well because then a few frames later what I want him to do is for him to put his eyes back where they were at the beginning. Okay, so let's Set the end of the work area to there and let's Preview it. Now, you'll notice that the time that his eyes are shut isn't really long enough here because we don't have time to actually register it. So I'm just going to make that a little bit longer.

Okay, increase the time when his eyes are shot. And now we've got a much better effect. So sometimes just creating a few simple keyframes of Time Remapping are much easier than actually going through the process of actually animating the eyes, the eyebrows, the mouth, all separately. Just create the facial expressions. Save them in the project and use Time Remapping to animate between the facial expressions.

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