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Learn to create and animate highly controllable characters using After Effects. In this course, author George Maestri covers every step on the way, from designing the characters in Photoshop or Illustrator, or drawing them straight from After Effects; assembling characters with hierarchies; making realistic deformations with the Puppet tool; automating rigs with expressions; creating realistic head turns; and showing advanced techniques such as using null objects as bones. Finally, the course shows how to perform a basic animation with the character and ensure the rig works correctly.
Now let's take a look at how to do replacement animation for mouths. Now, the actual process is almost identical to how we would work with hands, but let's take a look at how to align the mouths properly, and make sure that the animation flows smoothly. The hands are already done, and now I have all of the mouths brought into the Timeline. So I am going to go ahead and select this mouth that is on his face, and just kind of drag that in with all the rest. Just like with the hands, we need to select all of the mouths and do a precomp.
I am just going to go ahead and select them here, and just select all the layers, Mouth 1 through 12, Layer > Precompose. Now we need to give it a name. I'll call it MOUTHS. Make sure this is checked, Hit OK, and now I have a subcomp called MOUTHS. So double-click on that, and here we are. Let's go ahead and get these things centered. I'm going to go ahead and select all of the mouths, and move them kind of towards the center here, and then just kind of zoom in.
And now I am going to align them. So this is going to be my main mouth. This is the one I am going to use for reference. Let's go ahead and just start aligning the other mouth, so that they pretty much line up here. Now, the thing I'm looking for when I line up a mouth like this is I want to make sure that top tooth kind of overlaps. What I'm doing here is I am just flipping the visibility of the layers on and off, and I want to just make sure that I get a pretty seamless transition.
Now the thing you want to make sure you connect is that top mouth, because the jaw and the lower part of the mouth is what's moving. The top of the mouth is connected to the head, and that's a lot more stable, so usually that's the part that moves the least. So let's go ahead and zoom out here, and I am going to select this mouth here, and again, I want to try and align it at the top. Same for this one. I am just going to start grabbing them at random here.
Let's go ahead and do this one, because each one of these kind of has almost the same top shape. Now these are all a little bit different, so let's go ahead and just move these into place here. And let's get these aligned. The oh sound, again, I want to kind of get that top part lined up a little bit, and the ooh is actually going to be almost centered here. So again, I am just using the outline, these kind of grab points here, as kind of a reference. And then I need to select these smiles, and this is a little too far away for me to see here, so I am going to zoom in.
Again, you want to try and bias it a little bit towards the top. And with a smile like this, again, think about where the teeth are, and center the smile around the bottom of the top teeth. Now with the mouth like this, again, I'm just going to use the top teeth as kind of the reference, and the same for this one here. So now that I have all of these in place, I can go through my process to actually get these to do replacement animation. So some of this will be refresher, but let's go through it again so that we can get it down really well.
First thing we want to do is we want to crop the region of interest. So let's go ahead and select Region of Interest, and I want to make sure that I get to all of the mouths within that region of interest, and I can go ahead and just tweak this. I want to make sure that I get this fairly tight. Once I do that, Composition > Crop. Now I need to create my actual animation. In this case I have 12 mouths, so I want to create an animation with 12 frames.
So I'll go Composition > Comp Settings, type in the number 12, hit OK. So now I have got 12 frames, and let's go ahead and select all of the layers. And again, I am just going to grab the edge there, drag it down so it's one frame long, and then right- click, Keyframe Assistant > Sequence layers. That's fine, hit OK. Now I should be able see what my animation looks like.
Now at this point, if there is a jump, or you don't like the way the mouths are positioned, you can go ahead and change them if you want. In this case, I'm actually just going to go over to my main composition, and let's go ahead and position the mouths. So I am going to zoom in here, and then just grab those mouths and put them over. I'll go ahead and zoom in a little bit on the Timeline, and so you can see how it works on his face. Well, maybe I need to drop that down just a little bit. I am just using my arrow keys to kind of nudge this into place. Here we go.
So that smile mouth right there is a little low, so I am actually going to go back over to mouths, find that smile mouth, and raise it up. So if raise it up in my composition, it raises up here. So now that feels a little bit better. Okay, so now that I have this in place, all I need to do is add my time remapping, and I am ready to go for replacement animation. So all I have to do is highlight this layer, MOUTHS, right-click Time > Enable Time Remapping, switch this to keyframes, delete the last keyframe, and I am set.
So now I can just dial in whichever mouth I want here, just by running this slider here. Now, when you animate mouths, make sure that you have good mouths to start with, so be sure you draw good mouth shapes. And once you do, make sure that those shapes align pretty much along the top teeth, because that's the part of the mouth that doesn't really move.
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