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- Project planning, covering the scripting and initial drawings
- Using hand-drawn artwork in After Effects to time the animation
- Creating text and logo elements
- Animating the camera
- Organic modeling techniques
- Rigging models for animating
- Fine-tuning animation timing
- Adding realistic textures
- Lighting and shading techniques
- Rendering and compositing a finished animation
Skill Level Intermediate
Now that we have all our elements here inside of After Effects, the next in the process is to time out our shots using the audio as a guide. We're going to create a copy here in After Effects and add in our JPEG, then adjust the In and Out points so that they match up to key moments in the audio. Our goal is going to be to understand just how long each shot is going to take. So, I have my project folders here. Let's add in another new subfolder here and call it 3-Working Comps. And this is where I put compositions that I'm going to be using throughout the process, not necessarily final renders but just where they go while I'm working on them.
In the Working Comps folder, I'm going to create a new composition. Now, there's a lot of templates here and I think what I'd rather do is create my own starting point and I'm going to call this 640 and I'll leave the Aspect Ratio at 16:9 which is just fine, and Square Pixels is good, and then the Frame Rate 29.97. Now for the Duration, I know my finished piece is going to be 15 seconds long. So, let's make this 1500 for 15 seconds and then we can call it sz for shark zone and then animatic-001.
Now, I always like to put a version number at the end of my compositions because a lot of times during the production process, you'll make multiple versions and it's always good to be able to tell those apart. So, with all those settings correct, I'll hit OK and that opens this up in the Timeline. Now, I can start adding my JPEGs to the Timeline here. Let's start off by adding in all of the JPEGs for the main shots and let's drag those in to the Timeline. That gives us a stack of JPEGs here.
Now you'll notice that they're all sized up perfectly. That's why in Photoshop I made them 640 x 360, which was the same size as my composition here and that makes it a lot easier to work with the images. Now, they're all of the same length. They come in at 15 seconds which is the total length of the comp. Let's take these and make them all about a second, so let's grab the endpoints and with them all selected, I can bring them bound to about two seconds or so. Now, we'll be adjusting those end points so that how long they are isn't really important right now. I just want to make sure they're all sure enough to work with.
There's also some JPEGs that I did not import and these are the sharkzone-animatic-thrash files. And these are just the images that I used for the thrash, just to represent the thrash, and there's two of them there. So, let's start by importing the sharkzone audio and we'll put that at the very bottom of the composition. And you can see that the audio file times out exactly to 15 seconds. And now I can use that audio as a guide, and there's a couple ways to do that.
I'm going to twirl open the audio and then twirl open the waveform here, so that I can see the actual waveform of the file. And if I do a little audio preview by pressing the Period key on the numeric keypad, (Male speaker: After 400 million years, they're still the scariest thing in the ocean.) Now, that was me doing a scratch VO, read for the script and using the script I just read into a microphone inside of FinalCut Pro and saved that as an audio file. And so, you can see there's a little scratch marks here and that's the actual waveform for the audio. And I'm going to use that as a guide for where I'm going to start my elements.
Let's start with the sharkzone-animatic- 001 and we're going to take the rest of the JPEGs and move them down in time, so that they are out of the way. So, I'll hold down the Shift key to grab all those layers and move them out of the way. So, let's see how long our first shot needs to be. If you hold down the Command key on a Macintosh, Ctrl on the PC, I can scrub through this audio and see where my first shot needs to go. So you can see this first sketch contains the type element, "After 400 Million Years." So, I know that I want this layer to end where the next type element begins.
So let's find out where the next typed element begins. So, we scrub through. (Male speaker: After 400 million years, they're still the scariest thing?) So there it is, right here, they are still the scariest things in the ocean. So, if I take this layer and extend it outward a bit, there's a little bit overlap. It's okay because we're going to put a dissolve in there. And then take the second JPEG and just bring it back to the left here so they overlap, and that gives me my In and Out points. Now, I won't worry about the dissolve right now. I'm just going to put things in position and then add a dissolve later on using the Opacity keyframes.
So, there's this second shot, which is really a continuation of the first. It's just a dissolve and the type. And now, this is where my short transition is going to come in and the short transition is this thrashing element of sharks attacking the camera, and so I've got a little of time. I'm going to leave a gap right there and come back and add that after the fact. So, let's get these quickly roughed in. "Get a little closer if you dare" is where the main type element, Shark Zone, is first seen on camera, so that's going to be in the shot three.
So, let's bring shot three over to the left here. You'll see there is the Shark Zone and a shark swimming out from behind the logo. Now, if we scrub through this... (Male speaker: Get a little closer, if you dare. Shark Zone, all week long on the Adventure Channel.) Okay, cool. That's what I call the hero shot, which is the all of the Shark Zone type and the shark swimming towards the camera. So, what I want to do is time out... I've got actually three JPEGs here. Let's review those real quick. I've got the shark swims out from behind the logo.
He swims towards the camera, and then for the third shot he swims right up to the camera, and then that's where we're going to have another thrashing shark transition. So, let's timeout these shots so that our shark has the appearance of swimming toward the camera and then we have a shark transition. So let's find the Out point. (Male speaker: Shark Zone, all week long on the Adventure Channel.) Boom! Right there is where that shot is going to end. So, I'll leave that third shot and have it end right about there and bring these guys over so there's a little bit of overlap.
So now, when I scrub through this you can see the repeat quickly and it gives the illusion that the sketch is la ittle bit animated. Now, When I take the sixth shot, the sixth shot is where we're going to see the logo for the first time and the logo is going to animate into position after that shark transition. So let's find out where that cut happens. Boom! So that's going to happen right about there, after the thrashing shark transition. And if I go to the number seven, number seven is a continuation of that same thought. So the Adventure Channel animates on, the shark swims across the screen and that reveals the last frame, number eight, which gives us the tagline on screen.
So now I've got the basic frames laid out. I want to quickly create that short transition. The short transition is just a couple of JPEGs stuck together in rapid succession, and so I've got thrash one and thrash two. Let's bring both of these elements into the layer as you see at the end of the composition and let's make them very short, about 10 frames each. I can check my info as I'm resizing that layer and to see exactly how long they are and in the duration field it shows you about 10 frames. You can see it says duration right there, 10 frames.
Now I could take both of these layers. Let's zoom in on the Timeline and drag both of these layers over to the thrash zone. And so this is where the thrashing transition is going to happen. So if I take both of these layers and alternate them in succession, from about a couple about to the length of this gap here. I'll take the second one. Let's go one -two-one for there duration, so I have thrash one, thrash two, and now I'll repeat thrash one again. So, I'll duplicate this layer, Command or Ctrl+D, and that gives me a copy of that layer and I'll just move that over a bit.
It goes one, two, three, like that and then into the next shot. And there's going to be a black gap there. Let's fix that and clean it up a little bit. Oops, there's another gap, let's enlarge that. There we go. Now we can take these same three layers and duplicate all three of them and move those down in time to where the next thrashing transition is going to be. And that's going to happen right about here.
And so now, I can take these three layers and move them right in the position there and now that I have all the basic layers laid out, let's do a quick RAM Preview and see how things are shaping up with relation to the audio. So, I'm going to click the RAM Preview button. (Male speaker: After 400 million years, they're still the scariest thing in the ocean.) (Male speaker: Get a little closer, if you dare. Shark Zone, all week long on the Adventure Channel.) (Male speaker: If it's out there, it's on here.) There we go. So I think that's timing out pretty well.
A lot of times during the animatic process you need to reshuffle things around and, and move the layers forward and backward in time to get them to fit just right. But I think I've got a pretty good starting point here. Now that we've got our JPEGs all-timed out to the audio, it really gives us a good understanding of how long things are going to take and this becomes the foundation for the entire animation process. From here on out, we're going to be using this as a guide so that we can timeout our animation for inside of CINEMA 4D and also for timing out effects here in After Effects.
So it's a really important step.