Animation Studio 1 – 07 – Animating Passepartout and Reflecting on the Rapid Project
The final stage of production in the rapid production project was to animate the characters and all the set props transitioning, the animatic was very useful and easy to follow as I helped make it, and proved indispensable for the timing of each element in the scenes. I was assigned the animation of all the elements in the London scene and the majority of the animation for the America scene. There is a few problems I had to solve in this process, as well as some new technique and methodologies that I expect to implement in my workflow for similar projects.
For this scene I keyframe animated a DUIK rig that my lead made for the Passepartout character, through this process I became efficient at using the relevant After Effects shortcuts and tools. I actually learnt how to use DUIK as I made a rig, but it wasn’t used for the final product, it is a very useful script that I will be using for any future cutout animations, as these rigs provide a higher level of distortion and control that just the pin tool. I used reference for the run but for the actual jump I couldn’t find any footage so I asked some of my team mates if they could act it out for me, it was very helpful. I spent some time refining the jump and the reaction to grabbing the rope, and I used as null object to parent the rig and aloo the sway from the hands as he goes up on the rope. I also animated a much simpler rig made just for Fogg’s arm, this was a bit more difficult as this rig didn’t give as much control, but the movement was simple. This was very useful practice and I can see me using all of techniques learned here for future projects.
This scene had more elements I had to animate but all of the elements were individually easier than the run and jump for the other scene. I started with the train as all the characters were going to be parented to it, I made it its own pre-comp so I could add the smoke and the rolling wheels, the wheels where just all masking. The easy in shortcut was very useful here to give the effect that the camera was catching up to the train, I also used it for the Indians. Another useful trick I learnt was the wiggle command, which I will definitely use whenever I need some random movement. When it came to the actual character animation the hardest part was showing them react to the indians in a readable and fast way, I tried moving them straight down but that didn’t work as it wasn’t easy to read what just happened. So I decided to make them jump up so it was a bit slower and more readable, so it look like they were just woken up. I added the guns and a recoil movement at the end but it wasn’t very readable so I grabbed muzzle flash footage from the internet and added them for one frame every time one of the guns shoots. This worked excellently as they weren’t to distracting but they still drew your eyes toward what they were doing.
For the smoke I tried out Particle System II that had been shown to us in class, but I wasn’t getting the best results, despite basically messing around with every setting it had. So I went online and researched how to get a moving smoke effect in AE, I found a useful tutorial on youtube that used Particle Playground. Beside showing me how to create the effect, it also showed me how to insert scripts into the effect tab, so I used wiggle on its rotation to give it more randomness. I did have to do some extra tinkering and research to make it move the way I wanted it, but it turned out well.
I learnt plenty through this project, and I put a lot of effort into it as it was the first project in school that I was truly excited about. I became confident with After Effects, a program I had never used before, and I will definitely be using it for a variety of future projects. This project was a success thanks to the communication we maintained through slack, as well as the informative and useful management documents in google drive.