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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 begin animating and the first shot we're going to animate is the first shot that we did animate. In fact let me go ahead and show this to you. Let me go ahead and select this composition here and just do a quick RAM preview. So what this shot is is basically Dr. Frankenstein holding up the needle and the monster's hand reacting. I wanted to show you this one first because we actually animated it before we upgraded to CS3 and before we actually had the Puppet tool.
So it's kind of a representative of the old way of doing things. Not that that way is bad, it's just different and it's still a very valid method of animating. So let me show you little bit about how we brought in the art into Photoshop and prepared it for this particular animation. I am going to go ahead and minimize After Effects and go into Photoshop where I have the original scene. And I am going to go ahead and close this for now and I am going to reopen it.
I am going to go out to my Desktop to Exercise Files, Monsterpiece and I believe it's in the From Client directory. Now this is where we actually kind of segment out our stuff. It's in scene 4 and it's called Frankenstein scene 4. The reason we create a From Client directory is because we want to save the original art that we were given or any original materials that were given from our client. Typically what we will do is we will massage this stuff that is given to us but we save that in a separate place so that we don't, we try not to, save over original files.
They are almost like your negatives in photography and you really don't want to mess with those. You want to save copies and we are big fans of saving lots and lots of copies. We don't care about disk space here. So this is the file that was given to us and let me show you what's in here. It is basically a handful of layers. There is the background layer, very nice. Frank's face, his eyebrow and then we have another eyebrow which is very nice and his torso and then we got a couple of arms. We have one, two arms and notice how these arms actually have the thread or the string attached.
We are actually going to have to separate that out. And we also have the monster's arm. Also notice another little thing is that when it was drawn, there is actually a little gap here in this string and we have to kind of straighten that out as well. So there are few little tweaks that we have to do to this. So I am going to actually minimize this and I am going to go into the file that we created which is essentially a copy of that file. So I am going to go ahead and open and I am just going to go up one directory or two here and we are still in that Monsterpiece folder and I am going to go into my Assets Directory.
Now this is where we create our own assets and where we save the things that we use, all the art that we are actually using for production. So this is called Frank Scene04 and we like to name things with numbers rather than letters so 04 is typical for how we name things here. And if you will notice, this file is essentially the same art. We have just broken it up a lot and this will kind of allow us to animate it a lot more clearly. Let's just go from the bottom up here. We've got a background layer, we've got a neck layer.
Now I didn't have a neck layer. In fact, I'm going to go to this file here. I just had the face layer. So in order to create the neck layer what we do is essentially zoom in and just do a little bit of cutting. In fact, I am going to turn off his torso here. And I just use the Polygonal Lasso Tool. which is my favorite Lasso Tool. May not be yours but it's mine and I just take that, I do Cut, Ctrl+X on the PC, Apple+X and paste. And that pastes it into a new layer and of course I am going to have to name that layer. Be sure to name your layers because when you want to do After Effects it's going to get really confusing if everything's named Layer 1 and Layer 2 and all that stuff.
And then I just drag it below his face and I can turn on his torso again and you can see I have a nice neck that I can use. And if the neck is too small, you can always just add to it. So I am going to click over to my neck layer and again I use my handy-dandy Lasso Tool just to kind of create a shape- actually that's not a good shape there. So I just kind of follow that around kind of like a neck stump there. And because this is a solid color I can just use the paint brush tool so I just click on that, paint it. So now I have a little bit more neck to play with. If Frank should move his head way out, I still have some neck to cover that animation.
So actually let's go back to the file that was modified. So we got the face. Now one of the things we need to do is he needs to blink so I took the eyes and I actually made separate little layers from the eyes and what I did with that was I actually cut out the eyes and then I painted over the face layer to make sure that I had something behind there and then I created little blinks for him. And we kept the eyebrows. I did also break his torso up. I broke it into an upper and lower torso so he could bend at the waist.
Now this is something we probably won't have to deal with the Puppet tool but it is something that we did do for this particular one. And also notice how I am kind of fading out these layers. Here in fact if I hide the lower torso, you can see that when I actually selected this I actually feathered it before I deleted the lower torso and what that does is that gives me a much better, much smoother transition from one to the other so that way there is not really hard lines when he bends and moves. There is a little bit of leeway under there.
We zoom out here. OK, the other important thing is that I actually created more than one arm. We actually had two arms. These are the arms that were given us, arm 1 and arm 2. So this one with the hard angle and this one with kind of extended angle were the two that we were given, but when we went to animate we realized we needed little bit more than that. Now we could do one thing where we actually just took the arms and made a separate forearm and elbow, but for this particular motion he didn't need to do a lot of animation, he just needed to do just that one motion of holding up the needle.
So it was actually easier for us to just draw the in-betweens and this is essentially how you would do it in cell animation. We essentially made forearms and that was our four in between so one, two, three, four. Notice how they all kind of move along an arc and they just gradually go from one shape to the other and so we are actually going to use those as he moves. And then the other thing was that I did take the string and we made separate strings. OK? And then the monster hand and of course I filled in that gap in the string.
I also segmented that monster's sleeve and his hand because it's nice to be able to have that hand move within the sleeve there. Another thing is I have this guides set and I really don't need those so if I want to I could just do a Clear Guides because they actually do show up in After Effects. In fact let's go back in After Effects and show you the shot, there it is. Now these are all essentially the same layers that I created. So in the next movie we are going to show you a little bit about how to bring those Photoshop files that we created into After Effects and start animating.
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