Effects, and what came After

Animation After Effects section

We took the last three weeks of class to work on After Effects. This is an absurdly complicated program, and it is crazy to try to take this course using it only on a production laptop. I’m aware lots of people did exactly that, but I still think it’s crazy.

The only way you will ever get anything done with After Effects is using lots of shortcuts. Here are the big ones:
, = zoom out
. = zoom in
w = rotation tool
v = selection tool
g = bezier tool (absolutely invaluable if you are making shapes!)

You can slide through the values of a property by going to that property, clicking on the value (make sure you see the cursor turn into two carats, ) and dragging.
Hold shift-click on a keyframe to drag it in the timeline.

Oddities of After Effects: Maybe it’s just my copy, but when I used a Puppet Pin to morph a shape, it left behind a thin outline slice of the original shape. Very aggravating. Also the keyframes were hard to track.

Suggestion for future copies of After Effects: Have a special loop option called “continue-loop” which lets you copy the section you just finished, paste it directly on the same timeline, and ensure that the first keyframe of that sequence connects to the last keyframe just before it, for a smooth loop.

It sort of does this…but copying and pasting keyframes is needlessly complicated in this program. If you expand and select an entire clip and paste it, it pastes as new layers. If you just want the old keyframes in an extended timeline you must:
Go to composition preferences and increase the time
Expand your working timeline
Expand the layer containing keyframes you want
Expand THE SUBLAYERS so that you can view every individual keyframe
Copy only those keyframes
Paste carefully further down the timeline
Cross your fingers that you didn’t accidentally create a new duplicate layer instead
Repeat for every layer

In the final group project of this class, we spent a long time on a plot and eventually chose one about the plain figures on traffic signs. This way, we could make and animate the shapes of their bodies entirely in After Effects.
That was the plan anyway. I made a male and female human figure, and animated the walk cycle of each of them. In painstaking detail. They were each about 15 layers of shapes, which had to be moved and rotated for every keyframe of the walk cycle.

And after days of ever so carefully moving these figures, with copy-paste frustration at every turn, I realized that the cycles didn’t even look that good. But with two other finals to complete and a deadline looming, there just wasn’t time to go back.

Thankfully, Bruna and Michael (Gambale) took care of the rest of the film, because those walk cycles were practically the death of me. Michael and I then recorded funny voices in the “sound room”.

And behold, the finished product, after all the sweat and tears:

I kinda like it. I wish I had the energy to go back in and change a bunch of small things. I’m pretty sure that is the ritual statement proclaimed after every project ever done at ITP…

I have to say, for the amount of money this program costs and the length of time it has been running…they could do better. It is hardly sound-proof, the door is the most weakly protected part of it, and oh yeah – it doesn’t have any lights? Recording by laptop-light in that one-and-a-half person space was amusing but I wouldn’t ever use it for a professional piece.


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