After Effects: Rigging a Character Arm for Animation
Illustration by John Hersey

Picking up objects with the arm


From:

After Effects: Rigging a Character Arm for Animation

with Chad Perkins

Video: Picking up objects with the arm

So we've created this arm and we've set up the rigging. Now we are going to look at how to make it pick up an object. And I wanted to really focus on just that, so I've already gone ahead and animated this arm for you. So this arm comes down, grabs the camera, and we need to pick it up. Well, it could just be a matter of parenting, and actually, it is. But if we take the camera in a Tripod layer and parent it to, let's say the palm of this hand, which is what we're going to be doing, then it would follow it the entire way.

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Watch the Online Video Course After Effects: Rigging a Character Arm for Animation
27m 43s Intermediate Mar 23, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Join Chad Perkins as he breaks down the process of creating, rigging, and animating the arm of a character in an opening title sequence in Adobe After Effects—a task traditionally performed using rigging or skeleton tools available in 3D programs. Instead, this short course shows animators how to use a combination of layers, parenting, and expressions in After Effects to create a similar effect. The course also covers parenting the arm component, picking up objects with the arm, and obscuring objects.

Subjects:
3D + Animation Video
Software:
After Effects
Author:
Chad Perkins

Picking up objects with the arm

So we've created this arm and we've set up the rigging. Now we are going to look at how to make it pick up an object. And I wanted to really focus on just that, so I've already gone ahead and animated this arm for you. So this arm comes down, grabs the camera, and we need to pick it up. Well, it could just be a matter of parenting, and actually, it is. But if we take the camera in a Tripod layer and parent it to, let's say the palm of this hand, which is what we're going to be doing, then it would follow it the entire way.

So right here it would be connected to the palm. So we need it to not to be connected to the palm and then be connected to the palm. So what we're going to do is we're going to find one of the frames where it's holding. That should work. And I'm going to select the regular camera and regular tripod layers. I'm going to hold the Shift to select both of those. Then I'm going to press Option+Right Bracket to trim these layers where these layers end. So basically these are un-parented-- the regular camera and the regular tripod-- and then what we're going to do is we're going to make duplicates of those layers that actually are parented and that begin on the next frame.

So I'm going to press Command+D-- that would be Ctrl+D on the PC--to duplicate these layers. And let's rename them. The regular tripod 2 I'm going to rename PARENTED. Put that in all caps so I don't lose my place there and I can spot that a little bit easier. Parented Tripod and Parented Camera, and then I am going to use the Command key to select both of those, or the Ctrl key on the PC. Press the page down key to advance one frame, and then I'm going to press just the Left Bracket key, and that will make the endpoint of those layers jump to my current time indicator.

So the regular layers will go and then the parented layers will begin at that point. Now what I want to do--I could just parent these to the palm, but I prefer to do this with a null object, and then parent these two layers to the null object and then parent the null to the palm. So I'm going to create a null object, as we talked about in the last movie, by pressing Command+Option+Shift+Y; that's Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Y on the PC. And I'll lower this and I'll call it Camera Controller.

As you can tell, I like to use all caps. I like when my layers scream at me for some reason apparently, but whatever. So press the Command key, select both of these layers, parent both of them to the camera controller, and then we're going to parent the camera controller to the Palm layer. So basically, these first two layers, when the arm is coming in, are parented to nothing--they're just regular old layers--and then once the hand grips the camera, then these parented layers take over and then as we move in time, hopefully if everything works out, bada bing! The camera is parented to that hand.

Now you'll also see, if we go back up here to our expression controllers and we move that around here, the elbow joint, that the camera is still parented to the hand no matter what we do. So we've create a really flexible system here. So in the next movie, we'll look at how to get the arm in front of, and behind, the wall.

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