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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 once you have your Leica reel cut and you've got your timing and you like the way it's going, the next step is to actually create a tracking sheet. We call it a lead sheet and other studios call it by other names, but essentially what is it, it's just a sheet where you list all your shots, start and end times and you can track it. We do ours in Excel. You can certainly do it just by scribbling on a piece of paper. Back in the old days when we really didn't have computers, we actually just created them on ledger paper.
It doesn't really matter how you create it, but it's a good idea to create it, so that way you can track your show and the progress of your animation. So I am actually bringing up Microsoft Excel and this will be very self-explanatory. I actually put those out on the discs, so you have a rough template here under Exercise Files, Monsterpiece. I actually have two of these, one is a Blank Lead Sheet for you to use on your projects. And I have another one called Monsterpieces Lead Sheet. And I am going to go ahead and open that. And essentially what this is, it's just a sheet that has each individual shot, a start frame, the end frame and then the length of each individual shot.
And then I also have a few other ones here and what we usually do is we just print these out and then when I hand it to the animator, they can just put their initials in here when this particular shot is done. In fact let me show you how these forms are filled out. I am going to go ahead and open the blank one. And I have set this up with some formulas, so it makes it very easy. So for example in this first shot, we could say description would be, what is it, the announcer? So I am just going to type that in. Of course it starts at Frame 0 and then the rest of these I am going to leave.
And then the next one is Dr. Frankenstein and Fritz and I am not sure exactly what the frame number is, but I can just type in whatever frame number I want and what happens is I have got some formulas here that actually are going to calculate the end time for the previous shot and the total length of each individual shots. So as I start putting in numbers here, it just starts automatically filling in. So it just makes it a lot easier to track your shots. So once you have all of this done- in fact, let's go ahead and open up the old one here. So once we have this all set, now I have a list of, you know, this is what I need to tackle in terms of actually animating the shot.
And it's actually kind of nice because you print this out and then you just start filling all these little things so it's laid out, it's ready for animation, it's animated, it's rendered, and once all these are filled out, you're done. It makes it very easy to track. Sometimes if you try and keep everything in your head, your head just gets cluttered. I like getting things out of my head and onto these kinds of forms, so that way I can just put it aside and I can actually focus on the animation. Kind of my own little Zen way of clearing my head.
That's kind of how we organize our projects and how we track them here at Rubber Bug, so let's go ahead and move on from here.
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