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Character Animation in AE--Good comprehensive info source?

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Shane WalkerCharacter Animation in AE--Good comprehensive info source?
by on Jun 21, 2010 at 5:17:05 pm

So, I've looked through the Cow forums, found a few threads and a tutorial or two that cover aspects of character animation in AE (mouth animations, some talk of expression-driven Push Pin/IK etc), but I'm wondering...

Anyone found a 'gold mine' of complete discussions/tutorials on doing robust 2D/3D character animation in AE? Projects come in w/ tight budgets for time/money and from building assets to completion I've got hours, not days to research the most efficient methods.

I've used the puppet tools a bit, I grasp the ideas in pre-comp'ing mouths for animating mouths to VO, but my big questions remain--how do you do arms/legs etc that cross the 180degree line, as well as faces that turn etc where they feel dimensional, rather than cheap/overtly planar? WITHOUT spending days animating/illustrating inter-frames ala traditional cel animation, that is.

THX!

Creative Director
Metro Productions
(816) 444-7004


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Michael SzalapskiRe: Character Animation in AE--Good comprehensive info source?
by on Jun 21, 2010 at 6:19:02 pm

I don't know of this El Dorado-like gold mine of resources on character animation in AE of which you speak, but I do have this tutorial that may help. The whole website is full of very useful stuff.

- The Great Szalam
(The 'Great' stands for 'Not So Great, in fact, Extremely Humble')

No trees were harmed in the creation of this message, but several thousand electrons were mildly inconvenienced.


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Steve RobertsRe: Character Animation in AE--Good comprehensive info source?
by on Jun 21, 2010 at 7:45:41 pm

Try Lynda.com .

Have you looked into Toon Boom?

I say that because I haven't heard of anyone using AE for character animation except for one-off projects, but I could be wrong. Flash is also rather popular for that.





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Shane WalkerRe: Character Animation in AE--Good comprehensive info source?
by on Jun 21, 2010 at 8:50:46 pm

Haven't looked into 'Toon Boom' but know of it. How easy is it to integrate w/ an AE project, I wonder? Likewise, I know Flash has lots of niceties for animating symbols for character animation short-cuts (i.e. mouth sync), and I can export SWF files into AE, but its still two apps and all the added complexities etc.

Was just trying to keep the project all "under one roof". Thanks for the site link/tutorial ref on IKs, Szalam. I saw your post elsewhere but I've got it bookmarked now.

Anyone else have suggestions?

--Shane


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Jeffrey KaplanRe: Character Animation in AE--Good comprehensive info source?
by on Jun 21, 2010 at 10:10:44 pm

Character animation in AE kinda sucks because it takes a boat load of character set-up per scene.

Just be sure to do a lot of planning ahead. Nest all of your body parts in the correct composition and be sure to set all of your anchor points to the desired articulation points.

I would recommend designing your character in Photoshop or Illustrator - where each body part is on it's own PROPERLY LABELED layer. Then you can simply import your AI or PSD file as a Composition with Cropped Layers into your project.

Lip Sync isn't too horrible - I would design all of my mouth shapes in Illustrator, import them all as an image sequence in AE, nest the mouth shape comp within the head comp, and then use time remapping to do all of my lip-syncing (which is kind of similar to a Flash approach to lip sync).

You may find the puppet tool to be helpful as well.

These are just a few pointers - there is really a ton to go over if you've never done this before. If you've done character work with Flash - the mindset is relatively the same. DON'T THINK THAT CHARACTER ANIMATION IN AE MEANS YOU WILL BE USING ONLY AE. Every time you find yourself needing another hand shape or mouth shape or eye brow shape or pupil shape or ANYTHING you will have to exit AE and go design it in another program (like photoshop or AI).


Jeff Kaplan
Point 360 WEST
Animation & VFX Department
http://www.point360west.com


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Jeffrey KaplanRe: Character Animation in AE--Good comprehensive info source?
by on Jun 21, 2010 at 10:57:30 pm

[Shane Walker] "as well as faces that turn etc where they feel dimensional, rather than cheap/overtly planar? WITHOUT spending days animating/illustrating inter-frames ala traditional cel animation, that is. "

If you want that traditional cel look - you should use Flash. You'll be able to shape tween in addition to your symbol animation. Flash CS5 even features bones with better IK capabilities. But note: It's highly unlikely that you'll get that nice head turn without creating a few in-between frames here and there.



Jeff Kaplan
Point 360 WEST
Animation & VFX Department
http://www.point360west.com


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Todd KoprivaRe: Character Animation in AE--Good comprehensive info source?
by on Jun 22, 2010 at 12:51:02 am

Shaun Freeman's website, linked to from here

some from Robert Powers here

some from Angie Taylor linked to from here

more with this search

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putting the 'T' back in 'RTFM' : After Effects Help on the Web
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Shane WalkerRe: Character Animation in AE--Good comprehensive info source?
by on Jun 23, 2010 at 9:40:25 pm

Thanks for the insights/links...please keep them coming!

Right now I'm torn--do I stick within AE, do I jump over to Flash CS4 (no CS5 right now), or to Toon Boom Studio? With Flash, it's cool because this client is doing TV and Web w/ the character I'd build. Toon Boom gets high marks from those in the know, but not sure about the learning curve. And, of course, I need to get up to speed 'yesterday' (test anim by early next week). With existing AE competency, but no real working knowledge of Flash and Toon Boom, taking time constraints into account, which would you estimate is the most efficient path, y'think (calculating ramp-up and app feature-set subsequent time savings)?

If it matters, the character has floating hands and no legs, so actually not sure if IK is needed w/ this particular animation--though I know it'd be great to have.


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