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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.
Now, we're going to learn about the Puppet tool. What the Puppet tool does is it allows you to create realistic deformations in bitmaps, vector graphics, or text. Now we are going to be working mostly with bitmaps here, but it applies equally for all the other types of art. Let's go ahead and open a file, we are going to continue working with that file where Frankenstein runs away with the girl. We are on our Desktop, Exercise Files/Monsterpiece/After Effects/Shot0700F has a Frankenstein.
So, here we have the shot, if I just go here to Frank scene 07 version 3 and you can see he is running with the girl. Now, when he is running, the girl is kind of stiff, she is not really moving, she looks like a cardboard cutout and if we want to, we can give her a little bit more dynamics. We can make her dress kind of flap in the wind, we can make her bounce up and down in all the right places and so on. So, let me show you how to set up the Puppet tool and then we will go ahead and animate her. So, actually I'm going to go over to this Bride composition here, with just her screaming and we are going to work with her body, now that is layer 10.
Now, here actually I have another layer in here, which the artist gave me, in order to kind of almost simulate that effect of her kind of bouncing up and down and if you notice, well it's not really all that great because in order for this to be realistic, you really need a lot of the different layers to do that. But the Puppet tool really solves that problem, so let's go ahead and play with it. We are on Right Torso One, which is layer 10 in this file and the Puppet tool is right here, we've got a couple of options. If we click here, we've got the Puppet Pin Tool, the Puppet Overlap Tool and the Puppet Starch Tool. So I'm going to go to the Puppet Pin Tool and then we can't start laying stuff in here.
you can also add the Puppet tool as an effect here, pretty much the same way, just Distort effect, just Distort, Puppet. OK those are two routes to the exact same place. So what this does is it puts a puppet effect onto this layer, we can then start laying in the puppet pins. So, I'm going to lay in just few, I'm going to lay one here at tail of her dress, one at her ankles, one right around her knee and one at her hips. And now, I can take my selection tool and if I want to I can select any one of these pins and I can move them and you can see how easily that distorts, let me undo that.
And if you notice here, when I move one of these pins however, it really effects this one up here which is unpinned. So, what we have to do is we have to make sure that we pin down those parts that we don't want to move. So I'm actually going to go ahead and add a few more pins here, I'm going to add one here at the shoulders, one at the neck and one right here at her chest. Now, if you notice in the Effects here, under Puppet, we have got Mesh 1 and now what Mesh 1 has is all of those puppet pins that I have created. So, we have 7 pins here and you notice here as I select them, they show up in yellow here.
OK. Now, there are couple of things also. There are also these other pins here, there is Overlap and the Starch tool. Let me show you how those work as well. I'm going to go back to my Move tool here, so let's take the tale of this dress. If we want to, you know if there is an opportunity to animate it up here, we are going to run into a problem, now this is not something that will happen in this animation, but I'm just doing this for Effect. When we animate this part of her up here, is this dress going in front up or behind her hips? Where does this go? Right now, it's going to default to in front up, but let's say we wanted it to go behind, how do we do that? We do that by using the Overlap tool, so I'm actually going to go ahead and undo this, I'm going to undo my moves here and then I'm going to go to my Overlap tool and I'm going to place an overlap point right here at the bottom of her dress.
So, now when I select this Puppet Pin Tool and when I select this pin and I move it up, you are going to notice here, what I did was actually created another overlap pin, which was that one that we just drew in and that overlap pin has a couple of options here. One is in front, so if we dial it down to zero or less than zero, means it's behind it and the extend is how much of that goes behind. In fact we just dial it up here. And you can see now that when this puppet pin moves, it always moves as little Mesh behind the dress, so that can be handy for other applications of the Puppet tool. Now, the other one that we want to deal with is called the Puppet Starch tool.
Now, the Puppet Starch tool basically determines the stiffness of something, so you can actually put for example Puppet Starch Pin here and if we go, here in addition to that overlap, we have a stiffness and so that stiffness one again allows us to stiffen up this area, so it doesn't deform. So if we want to we can increase that increase that and give it a bigger extent. So that way when these other parts of this body moves, those don't. So, those are the basics of the Puppet tool, so let's go ahead and show you a real life application in the next lesson.
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