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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're ready to set up our hierarchies and link together all of our characters' parts in After Effects. Now, actually I save kind of our raw file out, so that way we'd have it and so this is on our Desktop/Exercise Files/Monsterpiece/ After Effects. And I created another one out here called Shot400 and what that is is essentially the shot that we created. Now if you want to go a little bit faster, sometimes your scrubbing speed might not be as fast, I like to keep these files local, try not to store them on a server because sometimes scrubbing over the network can be problematic. If you have to, that's fine but you'll experience a hit in performance. But sometimes if you want to you can shut this down the third or quarter resolution that make this scrub faster. Right now I'm on a very small screen, so I have this at 25%.
So let's go through these and let's take a look at how we're going to organize this. We're actually going to turn off a lot of these layers. I'm just going to go ahead and start turning off layers. Let's just focus a little bit on Frank here. First thing, I want to do is I want to start creating kind of a hierarchy. But what a hierarchy is, it's basically just, one thing is connected to other, so when one moves the other moves. So we can start with the torso. There's actually torso and the torso upper.
And so right now if I have the torso and I just select the Move to it and I just move it, it just moves by itself. I'm going to go ahead and do that, change value here. So if I move this torso layer, the upper torso doesn't move with it. So I can change that by using this little button here, which is Select and Link. So I take my upper torso right here and I just grab that and then link it to my torso.
So now when I move my torso, the upper torso moves with it, so what I can do is go through this, in fact I'm going to kind of zoom up here so you can see more of this and I'm going to start connecting the character together. Now the next thing what's connected to the upper torso, well it's the neck. So I take that and I connect it to torso upper. And what's connected to the neck? You know again, it's shin bone, that's connected to the ankle bone and so on and so forth. We've got the head is connected to the neck, so I take the head, grab it.
Frank Face is my head and I grab it and I drag it over neck. And you can see here that this is actually telling you right here in this little box what it's connected to, so the face is connected to the neck, the neck is connected to torso upper. OK so we also have right eye, left eye, blink and all the blinks and all the eyebrows, so I can actually just Shift-select all of these and just drag those to the face, so that they all move with the face. And so now, for example I can take the face, I want to move the face, all of those parts move with it.
OK. And if I take the neck then the head and the neck move together. Now the other thing is we also need to set what are called Pivot Points, because if I want to rotate this face, let's say I want to rotate it around the neck. In fact let's go into our Transform Box here and if I wanted to take this and rotate it, it's actually rotating around this center point right here. And I don't want that. I want it to actually rotate right there where it attaches to the neck. So what I have to do is I have to change the anchor point. So let me go ahead here.
I'm on Frank Face and on the Transform roll-out and then what I do is I just move this- Look I have a little bit of neck left over there and I may need to delete. We have to go back to Photoshop and delete that. And so what I do is I go ahead and position this where it needs to be and then I can just use my Move tool and move it back right where I want it. OK. And so now when this rotates, yeah I do have that little part there, but we will get rid of that, you can just go into the original Photoshop file and delete it. So now when I rotate that, it actually will rotate right around the neck. And we can do the same for all of the parts like for example the upper torso.
Also needs to have its Pivot Point set because they all come in at the middle. So this is actually going to take a little bit of time to setup, but once you have it setup it's going to animate really, really nicely. So let's go ahead here and set this up, and again we are just moving through all of the parts of the character. And some of these actually don't need to have Pivot Points like for example the blinks are never going to rotate, so I don't need to worry about that, things like these arms will have to or the string and most of these will, so I'm actually going to work through these and get all of these set and then we are going to pick it up in the next lesson.
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