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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.
In this chapter we are going to animate dialogueue in After Effects. Now we did do some rudimentary dialogue in the previous chapter where we animated that girl screaming but we are going to go a lot deeper into animating dialogue in this chapter. We're going to set up a slider so that we can step between the various mouths, we're going to import a soundtrack and we're actually going to scrub and animate against that soundtrack. Now before we do that, we also have to set up the character for animation and before I even do that, let me just go ahead and show you this first shot so we can refresh our memory as to what we are actually animating.
This is just the first shot of this film. (Movie: Greetings.) (Movie: And welcome to Minute MonsterPieces.) (Movie: Today's MonsterPiece is Frankenstein.) So that's the first shot. It's really just his head bouncing around and the mouth syncing to the dialogue. Of course there are some bubbles and that sort of thing on the glass but really we are focussing on the lip sync here.
So it's a very simple setup but it will show you exactly how to do lip sync for any other type of After Effects character animation. Now the most important thing in creating lip sync is getting all the mouth positions right. You have to actually draw those or create those in Illustrator or After Effects or wherever you are creating your art. We are doing this in Photoshop so let's go ahead and take a look at this file in Photoshop and let me show you all the different layers for the mouths.
We are going to open a file, go into our Exercise Files/MonsterPiece/Assets/Photoshop/ Scene01v1.psd and this is the shot that we are going to work with. Now if you notice in this file, we have a bunch of different layers. We have got a layer for the curtains, we have got a layer for the title and so on. The layers that are most important to lip sync are the ones that are a little bit below there, right here. So we have the face layer. You can turn that on and off and above that, we have the mouths.
We have E, we have teeth that lay on top of the E- this can actually serve double duty. We can either pick this mouth shape or this one and then we have a number of other ones. Now these are all just standard animation mouth positions. We have got E, we've got O, we've got W, we've got M, U, which is essentially the same as O, and then we also have some teeth that lay on top of that and then we also have one for A and I and some more teeth that lay on top of that.
Now having the teeth on a separate layer is actually very handy because you can very easily swap between one or the other and you don't need separate layers for each. So now once we have all of these layers in our Photoshop file, we can go ahead and set these up on sliders so that we can animate them in the next lesson.
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