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Adobe® After Effects® Creative Cloud® Starter Kit

Lesson 5 of 14

Animating a Figure with Keyframes

Jeff Foster

Adobe® After Effects® Creative Cloud® Starter Kit

Jeff Foster

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Lesson Info

5. Animating a Figure with Keyframes


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
3 Setting Keyframes Duration:36:36
4 Parenting Layers Duration:13:50
7 Vectors and Shapes Duration:13:50
8 3D Space and 3D Camera Duration:21:30
9 Animated Text Duration:16:27
10 Animating a Logo Graphic Duration:09:40
11 Animating Still Objects Duration:21:38
12 Working with 3D Footage Duration:16:37
13 Stabilizing Footage Duration:18:54
14 Green Screen Compositing Duration:19:33

Lesson Info

Animating a Figure with Keyframes

Let's get him back to where he started faras his arm goes here and get that back to you zero there we go and then his right forearm rotations at that back to zero is a well okay, so he should be back to pretty much where he started just as a sign and what I want to do is ah animate him so the one thing I'm going to leave alone I don't want to mess with the pile or the sign base I'm gonna leave those alone so one way to make sure they don't accidentally do something to one is to lock the layer and that's in this box right here see there's a little lock under here I can come down here and lock the layer so I could click that, then click that that way I don't accidentally selected and start key framing it and animating by accident and moving the whole thing when I'm trying to grab a bunch of different things, so everything else I'm going to just come up here shift and select and then I'm going to hit our for rotate because that's going to be my main motion that I'm going to be doing and s...

ince I've got them all selected here I can click the little stopwatch to create my first key frame just like that and that's going to set that as my base point for the animation so for all of them, I've got one key frame that's at this zero point it doesn't go anywhere do anything so now I can go down the line here and start my animation so let's zoom this up a bit actually let's bring our our work area down because we're going to be zooming up here it's only gonna be a few seconds long here when we're done I'm just going to work on one little area at a time and so it's going to be kind of a subjective point of okay, I want tio you make this part animate then move this part and then that part so I'm going to start with uh let's just get hiss torso going up right because we're going to go back and forth since we can animate several things at a time we're just gonna go back and forth so just out here a few frames I want tio let's, dace rotate his torso up just a bit since everything is going let's see, I'm maybe I'll have him dig in first, so I'm going to have it go down a little there we go again. This is a very subjective process I'm gonna happen bend down and while he's bending down he's also digging into the pile of stuff here a little more so let me take my left arm and I'm going to move that forward a little and I just scrubbed back and forth here says see ok that's what's happening that's going in all right and then I got to move the right arm and rotate that out a little so it kind of follows and what I have to do is that forearm is kind of sticking down so I have to move that so with that arm let's see what's going on here all right? I want to change my position not rotation of the forearm this right forearm so my right forearm I'm going to go from our I'm going to go to p for position so I want to set my first key frame for that position back here at zero point click that they're going to come out here and I want to change the position of that four arms so I'm going to click and drag my zee dimension x are actually why dimension sorry not in three dimensional x y and z will cover that this afternoon when we're dealing with three dimensional movement right now we just have x and y which is uh ex is access like like an axle on a car think of it that way so it's always horizontal why is up and down like a pull like you're spinning on a merry go round saying, why did I get on this thing that's that's when you're dealing with rotations and you're dealing with moving things let's think of x y and z is the you know coming at you so even in two dimensional space x and why so anyway I moved that up so it looks like he's been in his his arm as he's digging into the pile of stuff here um let's see, I may want to move that shovel down a little too as it's doing that so let's go down here to the shovel any time you can move every every little tiny movement that you can make on something just kind of adds to the element lips let's get back out here nancy come back out here and let's have it dig down in just a little bit here the shovels actually kind of going down and digging in so I need to move that arm back up again you got a lot of back and forth to do here so I want to make sure that I'm on my arm right for armed position make sure you're on the right key frame so that's that one you moving back down just a little bit because he's digging down in there we go so he's digging down in making that little motion and so far I've only just done three things that have rotated in one thing I've moved position on and I've already created this much of the animation just with these little key frames so I want to have him dig down in then come up just a little bit and they see let's bring it his torso up just a little bit okay like he's kind of scooping and then I want him to return to that other state. So remember before when I said I could either try to guess in the line everything well, I can come in here and grab the key frames and copy them back so everything that I moved before these three here these three key frames here I should be able to copy and then paste their whips it didn't it copied my whole layer there okay it's just be safe here I'll do one at a time your copy and then paste within that element because I've mixed both position and rotation I think that's probably where I add to any things to do here so that's copy and paste here we go so the only thing I've got to change there is the shovel which I come down here my shovel shovel rotation copy and paste and automatically makes that loop for me they're so I've got to see that didn't quite listen to me did it okay it's command z make sure I'm aligned in the right place here and rotation copy paste okay um it didn't listen so I'm gonna have to go back here and see what else I did wrong so may have actually done what I wanted to but maybe another thing I'm missing so when they go through here and see if maybe it's did I rotate the one that I also changed position of let me check that no, I didn't ok all right, well in this case we're just gonna have tio force it too good down sometimes you have to do that again. It's only animation folks it's not rocket science here, so here we go. All right. Oh, I see his arm didn't come back on the left so that's what's not moving back like it should so the left arm haha aereo that's what's missing copy paste so now the shovel is going to be too far down. I knew there was something else there. Just delete the key frame copy paste there we go now should all be right back where the barrio he's just like stabbing at it to children to have a name for him yet he's just guy he's, dude, he's just hardworking dude break swanson well, I guess that's appropriate. Okay, hardworking dude. Okay, uh uh that's. Great. Um okay, so anyway, he's just stabbing at the dirt, they got to go back and forth and just do that just get that dirt car, so you got in if you're doing this for eight ten, twelve hours a day if you don't do the insane things like I'm doing right now, you will really go insane and I don't care if you're working in an office environment I several days a week I work with the biotech company crew and everybody's in there just making sounds and in crazy stuff all day and that's that's how you keep your sanity or maintain your insanity like in my case um, same way were stabbed hinder here case and now we he's got a shovel of dirt that's the whole idea is he's he's he's grabbing something he's ready to pull it out and throw it so let's, get him in that point he's going to raise his head here right about in here I'm gonna have him raise his head. So even though I have created these key frames back here at point zero, if I'm not doing anything at all until this point in time, I don't have to create another key for him. I could I could just go over here and click at a key frame and that maintains that last position or I could just keep it simple and just drag this one out so now that's my starting key frame for his head, his head's going to rotate after that point so now his head while he's pulling back his head's going to lift up, I'm going to rotate it up a little, so he's going to look at where he's going to throw the pile of stuff off a shovel and they're all right, he's looking up, ms, is this gonna be exciting for somebody? Who's actually drawn this stuff and it could be able to see that hey, I can take the layers of what I just created, and now I can't move them and it's like, so easy I'm just taken photoshopped layers, and I'm animating the very thing that I created or the very thing that I just you bought from stock image library I mean it zaveri empowering tool. So we're making animation here and it's a very subjective process, so there's, no exact way of doing this. The next stage in this process, I've got him looking up, and now he's got to start positioning his body back, so I'm going to grab the torso part and start actually the hips that would be where that would want to. Now, I guess we didn't do the hip, so we'll just do the tour. So here you gotta look back and see that the key frames kind of telia history is a little bit of, like bread crumbs. You can see where you've moved something so I can say ok, I moved him from there to here he's back there but now I'm going to moving back a little farther semana rotate the torso back a little so is lifting up and is going to lift his arms up to see its take the left arm right here we're gonna lift that up but I'm get take actually I'm goingto pull it back pull it back and then lift his forearm up there we go so he's kind of doing this then he's getting ready to pull it back maybe I'll undo that a couple times that's nicely with this you can undo animation something wasn't quite doing what you wanted it to you know what? Maybe I'll take hiss left arm and leave that rotation we'll leave it like that and then all I'll bring it back so I've got to move his right arm rotated up a little and I've got to move the position of that forearm for arm p for position I have to move that shorten it up a little so he still looks like he's grabbing the shovel it didn't look like it moved much I guess it just wasn't okay rotated ok so it looks like he's getting ready then we'll pull it back left arm and haven't pull it back kind of like he's shooting pool here um rotate this little bit there we go jeff, for a quick question, yes. So, do you traditionally pre visualize your animations and what they're going to do and then animate? Or do you sort of, like, just fear out along the way let's so it would be us to move his head too, and move the shovel and that sometimes it's a little of both it's kind of like, ok, I know what I want him to accomplish, but how does he get there? Sometimes it's? Like what kind of looks need, unlike how he did that? And sometimes they kind of reveal them some sound all wound now, you know, but but sometimes they kind of come alive and they reveal their movements and sometimes it's like he's moving really weird I'm could undo in the last twenty minutes because animations funky that was special with character animation walk sequences are sometimes really hard because they could take hours and hours. Of course, we're not gonna sit here for hours doing that. I'm just going to get to a certain spot in here and then get up, take the frosted cake out of the oven, you know? But but sometimes it's, they like how that's going? I kind of want to see him do this, I want to move a certain way there's a lot of going back and forth and there's a lot of moving parts because people are robots I mean I don't just do this when I'm moving or this well, sometimes I do but it's usually something wrong and area but but you know, people are fluid, they're organic everything's kind of movement at the same time so if you have subtle little movements you get the major things accomplished first the major motion first I want to see him digging and shovel then I can start moving things like oh yeah, maybe I'll make the legs you lean a little bit or maybe he'll make his body lean or maybe I'll make his head move a certain way um and that just kind of makes the whole same or organic fluid so you don't plan that stuff out you can't storyboard that but you can storyboard this is the this is the mission that needs to be accomplished, you know? And you get that done first and sometimes it's a matter of time if you're under the gun it's like hey, I've got to have this animation done for the six o'clock news you know you doing news graphics or something so you don't have time for the subtleties get the job done first and this oh, I got an extra forty five minutes not going in sweden and that's kind of the animation process if time is not a restriction then it's going to be well I'm going to do this now it's three in the morning I got to go to bed and get up the next morning I hate all of it you could start over anyway that's the creative mind, right? Yeah that's what artists do and animators so sometimes you wake up and go oh, I love it I did that that's great. So it's kind of funny funny process okay, so I think what I've got going on here I've got the shovel doing some crazy stuff here. Is that because my forearm is moving on there? Yeah, case I gotta match the shovel here to what's going on something get down here to the shovel, get that tow line up with his hand here so that it stays kind of connected on what we got there what's going on here I got too much happening here with the shovel. Let me get that back down here trying to keep it lined up with his his left hand my right hand ok, still something going on there anyway? It's not perfect yet this again it's a process that takes a while so um I see what's going on here with hiss left forearm that's what's happening there something's going on there so I got a ring that shuttle back up again here we go and there's gotta pitch it out there so I've got a little looking more like a pool cue right now it's like you know corner pocket so that's what's happening there you could tell something like this could take hours to get through and we're not going to obviously sit here for hours to do this one animation I do want to just get it to one point here um and I need to move his his other arm here to match that so right about there's why starts pulling back I want to take his right arm let's get the rotation on the right arm it's right there so right here it's got to move back this way as well and we'll have to shorten up that other arm forearm go to four armed position and we're gonna shorten that up even more because again we're working in silhouette mode here so you can see his arm then there it's really what we're doing by shortening that I see what this looks like here and then he's gonna throw the stuff off so we're gonna have to rotate let's start with rotating his torso heaving this forward and then take hiss left arm and move it that way and the forearm has to come down and keep moving that up and four arm down and then the right arm has to match what's going on out here and then we have to pull the forearm out maybe too much like that ok it's not throw the dirt okay so he's throwing dirt on dh I want to fix his head too because his head should be moving through here so he's looking down he's looking out where he's going to throw it it should could down and then back out as he's throwing I'm going what I'm going to do is get either copy this key frame and paste it or I can just come over here and say at another key for him that waits this same key frame and then in between here I could dip his head down just a little bit so that's good give a little more of a fluid action so his head kind of maintains a level amount while his body is moving under because you know we aren't again we're not robots are heads don't necessarily follow our body he's not always um in case there's a little more fluid motion all right so just for comedy's sake because it's all about comedy I mean come on, we're animating here why can't we have fun comedy sake he's going toe overthrow this dirt and he's actually going to accidentally lose his shovel so let's get down here to the shovel right here we're going to go to p for position I don't have any key frames yet so I'm going to make one right at the point that it's going to move that's going to be okay to right about there and then it's going to take off so we're gonna let it go out here and we're gonna let it go out out because it's rotated I know that when I'm looking at it here what? You know you, I'm moving my why axis so why is it not going up and down? Why is it going off it this weird angle? It's? Because I'm rotating my original x and y are set out here it the boundaries of this box to sense the boxes rotated now, it's going in the direction that it was created, not the direction that it is on the screen. So you kind of have to jostle and go back and forth, or you can just come out here and grab the layer and moving around that way. So that comes out here who's going to overthrow it knew it was going to throw it down this way. Well, there's, something really cool here that you'll notice as I'm pulling this out this line that showing me the these, uh, animation path that's happening here, it's just now, it's just going straight, but if you'll notice here this key frame, if I click on the first key frame, this one turns gray right here and there's another little tiny gray box out here if you're used to using busy a curves with paths in photo shop or an illustrator, this works the same way, but instead of just changing the shape of something, we're actually changing the arc of the path that it's traveling. So look at this I can grab this busy a curve out here and now I can make that thing move in an arc so I don't have to go out in key frame a whole bunch of key frames out along this path to make it move in that way I just have to key frames I could grab that busy a curve and now I've got this beautiful ark that goes room and that gets thrown off the side here like that. Ok, so let's do a quick ran preview here that's actually make it a little bigger so we can see it ran. Preview there it goes. Okay, so our shovels moving in a direction that we like it's fine, I might speed it up on the way I speed up that animation is to push my key frames a little closer together. Okay, so look at that that's moving a little better. Ok, so a couple more motions I want to add here before we we go to the next one before I show you something that helps bring this to life a little more, um is to have him have his body complete its motion. He doesn't just go out there and fling and then that's done. We want him to come back to his original upright position. So that's right about here and so I go up and I look at what key frames those are it looks like I'm right about here, I'm not right on the key frame, but I'm close to it and here's a real danger in dealing with key frames is by accidentally creating more key frames or movie removing something that is going to be contrary to a key frame that's close instead of trying to line it up exactly right on the key for him. This is really important if you've got more time in between the key frames this one's fairly easy cause I'm only dealing with, you know, little short moves frame at a time so I can get pretty close to it, but if I'm almost on it, but I'm not quite sure I am I've got these little arrows here, right next to the diamond, where you create a new key frame and these are for, you know, going before we're going to a previous key frame, or to the next key frame and these air really good for utilizing. To snap to that that key frames here right on it, you can always tell your right on a key frame when this turns yellow, that means there's a key frame there, you're right on it. Um and then he could look here and say, yep, I'm right on it. Where that really comes in handy is if you have to line things up like you've got, you want to match the rotation from one layer to another or I want my position to start, uh, changing right at the end of a rotation of something else. I want my key frames tow line up and sometimes I'll do that where sales for example, for this one that I'm on right now, sam on left arm, I've got rotation and say I wanted to change position, but I don't have a key frame that I want to make sure that position starts exactly at the same time that rotation does, so I hit p for position notice I don't have any key frames made there, but if I click the stopwatch, I now have a key frame starting right, my position starting right at the same place that that key frame is for rotation so I could go back and forth and then I can go say I go to the next one, I want it to end their saw gop for position and then I can you know, move something there I'm not going to keep that obviously but that way in my rotation and my my movement goes I just change something that I didn't want to do um my position in rotation all happened at the same same time those key frames will align now if I go back and forth between r and p gotta pee let me go back here to the original and I could have just done a couple undoes by didn't want undo something I really needed so ok, so with that in mind I do want to get back to about this point in time and I have to look and see what key frames do I have here that changed along that time so it's looks like my right arm and forearm and everything changed there so I'm going to grab that key frame copy that going to come out here right about here and paste and a grab that same key frame here that was that one, right? Okay copy gonna go back out here? I just need to get close if I wanted line it up exactly I'm going toe click that next key frame, but I'm on this layer so I could hit paste and see how it aligns with that one now I know which line I'm working in, I just go to my next layer select that key frame copy paste all right and I looked down the line here is that is that torso yes tour so definitely work so his left arm didn't move yet so we have to go to left arm right here we'll grab that one copy back out here snap to it there we go make sure I'm on left arm and hit paste looks I just did it on the head I didn't want to do that I wanted left arm here here we go rotation there we go it's that one there it's easy to get your layers mixed up you've got to look at the names that's why it's so important to name copy and then paste there we go. So there we go he's doing that. So look what happened when I did that the shovel started getting thrown off to the side now instead of down below well that's because the shovel is parented to his forearm sofus forearm changes here that's going to change my shovel so I have to adjust for that so he throws it does this will probably bring that forearm around so it's not quite so crazy here. All right says at that point still throwing our shovel away so we get to move that that's why you go back and forth and back and forth so we're going to actually move this down sometimes you have to see where it isthe it's going okay, we don't want to go that far. I want to go here. We want to see it actually see there's a problem there within the rotation. So I wanted to be off before the rotation stops, so we're going to get it out of frame here. Gonna move my busy acre so still doesn't arc wait. Here we go. Are you able to unparalled that before you do the animation? So a cz he throws the shovel, your able tio? Yeah, it's parents it up until that point, and then you can unparalled and it will it should stop. Is that correct? If ewan parent it, then you've, you've disconnected it from the previous part of the animation. How I would probably approach that, um, is to actually cut the layer at that point. So if I was to, uh, want to try to do that changes position right about here to see if I have any other key frames for rotation beyond that? No, I don't, so I could be safe. What I can do at this point is have this layer selected, and then I can use a split command. Um for this layer, which is shift command or shift control on a pc shift command d and notice how it just splits that layer in half there so now I can I can basically I'm in my animation looks the same, but what I could do is take that layer that I split and just said it to none in that way, it's not continuing to follow that path either. Is there a way to make parenting, uh, go throughout time or is is parenting? Uh, solely based off of just yankee friend? Yeah, you can't keep being a parent it's either it either is or it isn't. I'm sure they're much more advanced expressions and stuff you could write that would let it time out or to be able to scale that. So, yeah, for advance users. You can definitely figure out ways to do that in a very linear mode here. This would be how I would approach that in this case, let me undo that a couple times since I've already made those corrections for that, but that's a good question, good question, ok, so I've got him kind of recoiling a little bit. I'm not going to change my rotation of that. I want this shovel out here in away from the rest of the animation. So in one way to check this is while I'm there, I'll take a look at the arm that it's attached to the left forearm. And I'm going to just see if I swing it around if it's going to show up no it's clear now so anything I do this left arm even I can just leave the shovel attached it's not a problem it's not going to show up in frame again um so I'm clear there so I know I'm clear so that's that and then do a little bit of a surprise look, cassie just threw a shovel away and zoom and again we can see what we're doing and make his body recoil a little bit here so the cartoon actions are about, um over acting in a way um it's exaggeration in its it's there's I don't know if there's definitely, you know, necessarily a specific terminology because I'm not a trained animator character animator I didn't goto film school our animation school, so I don't know that proper terms or technology terminology for for movements or things like that, but I just know this like, oh, I've seen that before. This is what a surprise kind of looks like this with some of these actions are on and then I also study the real world and then I exaggerated too, as you'll see in some of my other after effects classes I've done I had the pineapples bouncing and far game and doing things and it was just a you know it is just yeah, well, I said far, okay, yeah, it's, you know, we're grownups here. So that's, why we used, you know, fart humor, right? We're grown ups, um, no, but but just taken taken inanimate objects and bringing them to life by doing silly things with them, and then having given them some expression, by the way, that you move them, manipulate them, stretch him, worked him and that's. What you know, cartoon animation is all about.

Class Description

Adobe® After Effects® is not only the broadcast industry’s motion graphics and animation standard, but it’s now more accessible than ever as part of your Creative Cloud® membership. In this intensive 6-hour course, renowned author, video producer, and Adobe Community Professional Jeff Foster will show you how to use the many functions of Adobe® After Effects®  to enhance your projects with animated titling and 3D motion graphics.

You’ll learn how simple it is to:

  • Create motion from your Adobe® Illustrator® and Adobe® Photoshop® files
  • Animate title text and designs in 3D space

While Adobe® After Effects® can be intimidating at first glance, Jeff will teach you just what you need to get started in this amazing program without overwhelming you.

Software Used: Adobe After Effects CC 2014


Brandon D

Excellent class! Makes After Effects much less daunting to tackle and explains it in clear way. The bright purple background was distracting and annoying though.

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