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Human Spine Animation in AE

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Ben LewisHuman Spine Animation in AE
by on May 27, 2016 at 4:14:39 pm

Hi, I've been asked about a job which would involve animating a graphic of a human spine and wondered if anyone could suggest a plugin that might help with the rigging/physics as it should move naturally to demonstrate how to correctly lift objects?

Basically an actor would act out the moves then on the right of the screen I want to animate the spine so it mimics what the actor is doing.

This is a great example of what I am trying to achieve but created in 3D.

Any help or tutorials would be greatly appreciated.


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Dave LaRondeRe: Human Spine Animation in AE
by on May 27, 2016 at 5:44:27 pm
Last Edited By Dave LaRonde on May 27, 2016 at 5:58:59 pm

...And that's how it should be created: in a 3D application. Particularly if it has to be accurate. AE just isn't the right tool for the job. You'd drive yourself crazy and miss your deadline if you tried to use it.

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA

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Kevin CampRe: Human Spine Animation in AE
by on May 28, 2016 at 3:02:21 pm

if your not going for the realism in the example, and would settle for a simple bending of a spine layer, cc bend it can very easily bend a layer which could mimic the behavior of a spine.

you can easily see if it will work for you, just find a picture of a spine and add cc bend it. you'll have two anchor points to effect the bend, the 'start' is the base, or fixed point, and the 'end' is point that will effect the bend. place the start point at a point you want the bend to start (like the base of the spine), then manipulate the end point to create the bending.

it is a simple distortion effect, and the you will get distortion in the vertebrae, but if the bending isn't too extreme it may work for what you are doing.

to do it more correctly would involve linking separate vertebrae layers with expressions so when you move one vertebra, the others move and rotate independently as needed to more accurately follow the adjusted vertebra. it's possible, but a little complicated to work out math and expressions involved.

Kevin Camp
Art Director

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Kalle KannistoRe: Human Spine Animation in AE
by on May 28, 2016 at 4:10:55 pm

If you're not rotating the spine in 3D, the puppet pin tool would probably work to bend a static spine image in a natural fashion. You can control the stiffness of different parts with the starch tool. The bones will distort slightly, but it might not be noticeable.

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