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Jim Krause | Classes | P354 Program Graphics & Animation

Week 14

Announcements/Reality Check:

  • More puppet fun this week. Thursday we'll have a special guest.
  • Final Project Scripts/storyboards due Thursday
  • Next Thursday we'll have the Final Quiz. It is cummulative and will cover material from the first two quizzes (Use them to study) and the AE content we've covered since then. It's form will be similar to the other quizzes.
  • The Spring 2019 Final Project Review time (assigned by registrar) is 5 – 7 PM Tuesday, April 30. We will need the entire time to review projects.

Tuesday Agenda:

  • Review homework
  • Puppet Tool - Part 2
  • AE Tips & Techniques

[Review Work]

Final Projects

Please remember that the Pre-Production component of your Final Project (proposal and script/storyboard) is worth 10 points. You've already submitted your proposal. Thursday is the deadline to turn in your storyboard/scripts or other pre-production materials.

  • It is imperative that you add your own design flare. These projects must demonstrate your design skills and proficiency at composing with After Effects. Moving pictures or videos around the screen in itself does not say much about your design abilities.
  • I will be looking to see if you've put design principles into use.
  • Your Final Project must have legal integrity. Do not use any un-licensed images or sounds in your production.
  • On good graphic design: Watch the promos, ads, & title sequences of network TV. Remember the simple and complex graphics we looked at early in the semester? Avoid filling surfaces/solids with a single color. It makes it look flat. Always apply a little bit of a gradient. It can express depth & light. Put CRAP to use. Make your layers 3D and use lighting.
  • On making movies dynamic. Use 3D layers, lighting and depth. Block animations in Z-space.
  • Put time into laying out your text. Even a few simple words can be finessed with grace.

Puppet Fun (Meyer Chapter 35 - ZIP file of sources - 488 kB)

The puppet tool provides an easy to use way to animate layers, such as Illustrator or Photoshop images. The layers can not have changing alpha channels- so you need to use still objects- or at least objects that have non-changing alpha channels.

When you enable the puppet tool by placing a puppet pin on a layer, it creates an underlying mesh structure. It's good for getting organic-looking movement on layers.

The puppet tool is a simple tool but has a wide variety of uses. It has three kinds of controls. You can press Command-P to toggle through them.

  • Puppet Pin - Use this to set control points
  • Puppet Overlap - Use this to specify if pixels are in front of or behind other pixels
  • Puppet Starch - Use this to add rigidity

The motion paths created by the puppet pins can be changed or adjusted just like any other spatial keyframes.

Motion Sketching is an easy and straightforward way to add keyframes. If you hold the Command button down over a puppet pin a stopwatch appears. Then when you click and drag, it will record the keyframes. You can set the speed and other variables with the "Record Options" button next to the puppet pin tool.

The Overlap Tool allow you to set a value to areas that specify how they overlap other areas. Larger values cover (are in front of) lower values. It's possible to have negative values. Use minimal pins and adjust the extent value. You can even animate/change the overlap pin positions over time.

The Starch Tool works a little like the overlap tool in that you can place a point and set the extent value. This will prevent the area from warping.

Tuesday- Puppet Fun Exercise (5 points)

Take any of the characters or objects from the book (or from anywhere) and animate them walking or dancing to a soundtrack (something with a good beat). Suggested pixel dimensions & length: 1280x720 at 10-15 seconds. Be sure to use the overlap tool to control if parts are in front of or behind other parts.

Hint: You might want to set layer markers on the audio layer to help fine tune your character's rhythmic abilities.

Hint: if your goal was to have your character walking (a tricky task) start by examining how a real person walks. You can then explore variations of the walk. Once you've got a basic walk cycle down of a character walking in place you can loop it, then precompose the layer and move it (at a speed matching the walking gate) across the floor.

To make this more dynamic, add another dimension (put it in 3D space). Try adding a floor and a light to cast shadows.

When you are satisified, output an H.264 movie with sound called "puppet_fun" and upload it to the appropriate Canvas assignment.


Special Guest & Potpourri of AE tidbits

Misc AE Tip: Making footage loop through Interpret Footage command

Often we have footage in a layer that we'd like to have loop multiple times. (A movie of a spinning globe, etc.) There's no need to copy the layer x number of times. Here's a better way to do this:

  • Right click, or control click the footage item in the project window.
  • Select "Interpret Footage" -> "Main" from the pop-up window. (Or press Command-F)
  • Look at the bottom of the window that has opened. There should be a text field near the bottom where you can specify how many times it should loop.
  • Change this value to something larger than 1 (eg 50)
  • You should then be able to lengthen the layer in the layer window by pulling the end of the trim tab.

AE Tip: You can replace footage in a comp by first, selecting the layer and then option-dragging your replacement footage over the layer's name field.

Presidential Portraits

In-class 3D "Rotating Postcard" Exercise

The purpose of this exercise is to give you practice working in 3D space and to make sure students understand how to copy layers and keyframes and how to replace footage.

  • Find 4 images that are roughly the same size and aspect ratio (E.g. 4 portraits)
  • Start out with a 1280 x 720 comp
  • Import one of the images into the composition and make it a 3D layer
  • Using 3D Position keyframes, make it cycle through 4 different positions
  • Duplicate the layer 3 times (so you have 4 of these rotating 3D layers)
  • Stagger the layers uniformly in time (Hint: try aligning the layer's starting time to coincide with some of the 3D position keyframes).
  • Can you figure a way to replace the existing layers with different images?
  • Make sure the layers don't overlap when they cross.
  • Render out a full-size, H.264 called "postcard" and upload it to the appropriate Canvas assignment.

Rendering fields vs frames (upper vs lower):

If you have ever looked at video (or an animation) where motion shows undesirable horizontal lines, the problem is likely the field order. Interlaced video uses two fields, seprated in time by about 1/60 of a second. When the two fields are reversed, the result is this noticeable visible distortion.

Video is either interlaced or progressive. NTSC and 1080i both are examples of interlaced television. The letter P in the formats 720p or 1080p means that they are progrssive.

When rendering compositions for interlaced video formats from After Effects, you'll get the best results by turning on "field render" in the render settings dialog box. But you'll have to make sure you pick the proper field order (upper or lower field first). A few useful examples are:

  • DV (NTSC or PAL) - always lower field first
  • HD - upper field first



  • Read CMG chapter 39, 40 & 41 (Integration 101, Integration with 3D Applications and Video Issues)
  • Study for the Final AE Quiz, which will be Thursday.

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