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After Effects CS5 Essential Training
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Using the Puppet tool


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After Effects CS5 Essential Training

with Chad Perkins

Video: Using the Puppet tool

Folks, in this movie we're going to be looking at the Puppet tool, one of the most genius tools in any software application that I have ever come across. If you are new to the world of After Effects, this will absolutely blow your mind, guaranteed. Now let's first talk about our dilemma here. We've animated all of the other components of our project, but we have this biker left over. There is really no degree of position, rotation, scale and opacity that can help us to bring this still image of this girl on a bicycle to life, in any kind of real, believable way.
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  1. 5m 40s
    1. Introduction
      1m 30s
    2. What is After Effects?
      3m 12s
    3. How to use the exercise files
      58s
  2. 28m 14s
    1. After Effects workflow overview
      2m 18s
    2. Bringing elements into After Effects
      2m 23s
    3. Adding elements to the Timeline
      1m 57s
    4. Working with layers
      3m 45s
    5. Creating animation with presets
      3m 24s
    6. Applying effects
      3m 34s
    7. Creating animation without presets
      5m 38s
    8. Previewing your work
      2m 46s
    9. Exporting content as a movie file
      2m 29s
  3. 27m 20s
    1. Touring the interface
      6m 2s
    2. How After Effects projects work
      4m 47s
    3. What is a composition?
      4m 52s
    4. Tips for adding content to compositions
      2m 49s
    5. Understanding the properties of video
      8m 50s
  4. 57m 8s
    1. Importing an Illustrator file
      4m 57s
    2. Animation basics
      7m 12s
    3. Animating opacity
      6m 40s
    4. Understanding anchor points
      4m 57s
    5. Animating position
      6m 8s
    6. Animating rotation
      4m 41s
    7. Animating scale
      7m 19s
    8. Using the Puppet tool
      7m 13s
    9. Copying and pasting keyframes
      3m 4s
    10. Animation shortcuts
      4m 57s
  5. 9m 42s
    1. Understanding precomposing
      6m 51s
    2. Navigating through compositions quickly
      2m 51s
  6. 1h 12m
    1. A showcase of effects
      2m 34s
    2. Creating a layer for effects
      3m 1s
    3. Applying effects
      4m 54s
    4. Animating effect properties
      4m 29s
    5. Using Glow
      5m 34s
    6. Creating patterns and textures
      6m 57s
    7. Creating a fireball
      7m 9s
    8. Using the Cycore effects
      5m 58s
    9. Adding blur
      5m 45s
    10. Creating a galaxy scene from scratch
      8m 38s
    11. Distorting objects with effects
      4m 7s
    12. Creating and using lens flares
      4m 21s
    13. Creating lightning bolts
      4m 3s
    14. Viewing random variations with Brainstorm
      4m 39s
  7. 30m 52s
    1. Shortening the duration of layers
      4m 23s
    2. Trimming in the Footage panel
      4m 14s
    3. Slowing and accelerating video speed
      7m 9s
    4. Applying video transitions between clips
      6m 7s
    5. Working with image sequences
      4m 47s
    6. Importing footage with an alpha channel
      4m 12s
  8. 36m 11s
    1. Brightening dark footage
      9m 12s
    2. Changing colors in footage
      6m 34s
    3. Creating cinematic color treatments
      8m 17s
    4. Creating a quick vignette
      3m 42s
    5. Colorizing black-and-white objects
      4m 50s
    6. Using adjustment layers
      3m 36s
  9. 21m 9s
    1. Creating and editing text
      7m 39s
    2. Applying text animation presets
      4m 41s
    3. Animating text manually
      4m 43s
    4. Applying layer styles to text
      4m 6s
  10. 28m 58s
    1. Let's get better
      37s
    2. Using work areas
      3m 37s
    3. Creating markers
      6m 17s
    4. Replacing layers
      2m 35s
    5. Mastering Timeline navigation
      3m 18s
    6. Aligning and distributing layers
      3m 4s
    7. Selecting layers quickly
      1m 56s
    8. Cropping layers
      3m 43s
    9. Adjusting comp resolution
      3m 51s
  11. 23m 53s
    1. Using the paint tools
      9m 35s
    2. Using the Roto Brush tool
      9m 25s
    3. Animating growing vines
      4m 53s
  12. 40m 29s
    1. Creating and using masks
      6m 42s
    2. Exploring mask options
      7m 57s
    3. Creating masks with Auto-trace
      6m 51s
    4. Masking objects with other objects
      5m 33s
    5. Making shape layers
      3m 43s
    6. Modifying shape layers
      9m 43s
  13. 30m 44s
    1. Turning 2D layers into 3D layers
      9m 22s
    2. Creating lights and cameras
      6m 14s
    3. Creating shadows
      4m 23s
    4. Using depth of field
      4m 42s
    5. Working with 3D effects
      6m 3s
  14. 18m 10s
    1. Removing a green screen background
      4m 37s
    2. Refining the matte
      4m 48s
    3. Compositing with color adjustments
      4m 50s
    4. Compositing with blend modes
      3m 55s
  15. 25m 44s
    1. Understanding spatial interpolation
      2m 5s
    2. Creating and adjusting motion paths
      3m 55s
    3. Orienting moving objects along a path
      1m 29s
    4. Drawing motion with Motion Sketch
      2m 51s
    5. Creating pauses in animation
      3m 6s
    6. Understanding temporal interpolation
      1m 56s
    7. Easing keyframes
      5m 57s
    8. About the Graph Editor
      4m 25s
  16. 12m 13s
    1. Stabilizing shaky footage
      7m 46s
    2. Tracking the motion in footage
      4m 27s
  17. 24m 58s
    1. Setting up parent layers
      5m 49s
    2. Working with null objects
      2m 31s
    3. What are expressions?
      7m 17s
    4. Modifying simple expressions
      2m 20s
    5. Using the wiggle expression
      7m 1s
  18. 6m 52s
    1. Understanding audio in motion graphics
      1m 22s
    2. Previewing and mixing audio
      3m 55s
    3. Enhancing audio tracks with effects
      1m 35s
  19. 11m 36s
    1. Adding comps to the Render Queue
      2m 30s
    2. Exploring key Render Queue settings
      4m 11s
    3. How should I export my video?
      4m 55s
  20. 7m 16s
    1. Using Photoshop with After Effects
      2m 10s
    2. Using Illustrator with After Effects
      3m 2s
    3. Using Flash with After Effects
      2m 4s
  21. 11s
    1. Goodbye
      11s

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After Effects CS5 Essential Training
8h 39m Beginner Apr 30, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In After Effects CS5 Essential Training, author Chad Perkins discusses the basic tools, effects, and need-to-know techniques in Adobe After Effects CS5, the professional standard for motion graphics, compositing, and visual effects for video. The course provides an overview of the entire workflow, from import to export, as well as detailed coverage of each stage, including animating text and artwork, adding effects to compositions, working in 3D, and rendering and compressing footage. Exercise files are included with the course.

Topics include:
  • Understanding the After Effects workflow
  • Precomposing footage
  • Explaining the basics and beyond of animating
  • Creating glows, patterns, textures, and more with effects
  • Color correcting footage
  • Working with text
  • Manipulating video playback speed
  • Masking objects and shape layers
  • Removing backgrounds with keying
  • Compositing multiple pieces of footage
  • Integrating After Effects with the rest of the Creative Suite
Subject:
Video
Software:
After Effects
Author:
Chad Perkins

Using the Puppet tool

Folks, in this movie we're going to be looking at the Puppet tool, one of the most genius tools in any software application that I have ever come across. If you are new to the world of After Effects, this will absolutely blow your mind, guaranteed. Now let's first talk about our dilemma here. We've animated all of the other components of our project, but we have this biker left over. There is really no degree of position, rotation, scale and opacity that can help us to bring this still image of this girl on a bicycle to life, in any kind of real, believable way.

In real life, she would have flesh and joints that would bend and move and react in a certain way. And because she is just a still image, that's going to be almost, if not, completely impossible to duplicate in an animation program, and that is the case, if it were not for the Puppet tool. So, go ahead and select the Biker Body layer. That's layer number 6 and that is basically if I turn off the visibility of this layer. Actually, I can turn the solo back on if I turn that off, but that's what that looks like.

Now with this layer selected, go select this pushpin up here in the Tools panel at the top. This pushpin is the Puppet Pin tool. So, what we're going to do is we're going to click on our biker lady here, and we are going to click on areas where joints would be. So, let's call the Puppet tool. So, think of her as a puppet, like a marionette. If you had to click on certain joints of the puppet, as it were, where would you click that? I think I would click one on her ankle, perhaps one on her knee, one on her hindquarters, one may be on her back, one on her shoulders, one on her elbow, and one on her hand.

If it was important that we animated her head, I might place one there as well, but for now that's good. So, we have placed these joints along her body. If her other leg was on the same layer, which it's not, it's actually a separate layer. That's the Biker Right Leg layer here. It's that one. So, we're not worried about that one because we can only work right now on one layer, but watch this. Now put your cursor over one of these points that you've already laid down, and your cursor will go from a push-pin with a Plus or a White Arrow to a Move icon.

This is what we want. With this icon, click on one of these points and move it around and look at. Look how organically our characters move. Even as I bend her knee, look at how her shoe responds so organically. That is unbelievable. I could grab her back, and notice how it affects her hair. Her whole body responds the system of joints just like a real character would, just amazing.

So, now what we can do is we can move her legs as if she were riding the bicycle. Now this is very complex and so it's kind of like this horrible challenge that I'm torturing you with, because even an experienced animator, there is no book on how to animate with the Puppet tool if a character is riding a bike or something. This is something you just have to artistically study somebody riding a bike and figure out which components of the body are moving and that type of thing. So, we're not actually going to animate that here.

But if we were a little more skilled, and we had some more time to discuss this, we can look at how to animate a character with the Puppet tool. Now the one thing I do want to show you is that when you apply this effect that you'll notice that here in the layers, if close the layer, open it up again, we could see that under Effects - so you open that up - there is a Puppet that has been added. If we open up Mesh 1 and then Deform, and you can see that there are all these Puppet Pin categories, and not only have pins been placed for us, but After Effects has automatically added keyframes at that frame that we added these points.

So, now all we have to do is just move in time and change the value. We don't have to worry about setting keyframes or any such thing. We just have to move. I'm doing a terrible job at this. I'm sure once we animate, this is just going to be the worst animation that anyone's ever seen. But still you get the point that this is how the Puppet Pin tool works. So, now as we move, so she moves in a very, again, organic way.

So, you have to work with it to be able to make it work so that it looks like she is riding the bicycle. Realistically, I'm might want to go out in Time here, and probably push her foot down, push her knee down, bend this back, like so so she has not twisting her leg there and maybe she might arch her back a little bit, which is pushing that down. There we go. And then we might move out in Time.

Then she puts her -oops! Undo that. I've actually added an extra pin. But she might move up her leg and bring it back up again, and change her back and her shoulders. As we drag it, we kind of see what's going on there. Now if you have an exact method that you would like your character to move, here is an amazing trick with the Puppet tool. What I can do is, say, for example, I want her to do a little dance with this leg, which is easier to animate than her riding a bike.

I'm going to hold down the Command key on the Mac or the Ctrl key on the PC, and you notice that my cursor changes when I do that. Instead of a Move tool, it's now this little Stopwatch. So, let's say, for example, I want her dancing. So, I'm going to click this. When I click it, it's going to be recording what I'm doing. Okay, so now if I play this, she kind of kicks around in this kind of crazy way here, just like I made it happen with my mouse. It looks terrible.

I realize that, but that's not the point. The point is is that - I am just going to click outside of this layer to deselect it so we can have a better view of what's going on here - it did exactly what I told it to do. So, if you had a character, again, that was dancing, or I've seen other people use like bird that was pecking. I've also used the duck where you grab the bill, and you just have liked make it pack, so much easier than animating by hand. You just actually move it with your mouse, where you want it to go, even the speed you want it to go, After Effects will remember and animate it accordingly.

Ladies and gentlemen, that is the wonder of the Puppet tool.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about After Effects CS5 Essential Training.


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Q: In the "Creating a fireball" movie in Chapter 6, the author showed how to make a fireball. Unfortunately, it all centered around a blob layer that he made without showing how to make a blob layer. How does one go about creating a blob layer like the one used in the video?
A: To create a blob layer, make a shape layer using the Pen tool. Animate the anchor points over time to make it move. These concepts are reviewed in depth in Chapter 4, "Learning to Animate."
Q: In the Chapter 5 video "Understanding precomposing," the exercise file provided does not seem to match up with the file the instructor uses. My file does not include a "Biker Body" layer. Is there an error in the exercise file?
A: Unfortunately, the exercise file originally distributed for this chapter was incorrect. A new file was issued in February 2011. If you downloaded the exercise files prior to then, you can download the corrected file on the Exercise Files tab of the course page.
Q: How do I transition from one piece of animated type to another in After Effects?
A: There isn't an effect that can create these types of transitions. It's really a matter of animating the type and camera, using basic keyframing and positioning.
 
If you understand the basics of moving the anchor point of a type layer, animating the parameters of that layer (Scale, Rotation, Position, etc.) and then separately animating the camera around the type layers, you can achieve different types of transitions.  Check out the following videos for more information:

 
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