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Basic cartoon animation in AE

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Hi all,

 

I have to do a 3 minute "south park" like animation in AE, and I was wondering if anyone here:

 

1. Had any tips they could give me for doing it in AE

2. Suggestions for another way of doing it (but no I don't think I want to cut out construction paper ;-)

 

I've been thinking about the best workflow, and I'm guessing I will comp each character and then animate their movement in a seperate comp. I'm not sure if I should do things like eye movement/blinking in the character comp or the larger animation comp.

 

I'm afraid in a week I'll find myself in keyframe hell!

 

Thanks for the input

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If you must do it in AE, you'll save yourself a lot of keyframes and trouble if you set up proper hierarchies for the characters, possibly with some expressions to hold things in place. South Park characters may not need a lot of inverse kinematics if I remember correctly, but anyway Dan Ebberts has some useful expressions here.

 

 

 

If lip-synching is to be involved, here's a Creative Cow tutorial.

 

 

 

Three minutes sounds to me like quite a lot. AE really isn't the proper platform for this kind of stuff, but frankly you don't need Maya for that either. Look at Moho and Toon Boom, they're relatively easy to pick up and they're really meant for such animations.

 

 

 

AA

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If you must do it in AE, you'll save yourself a lot of keyframes and trouble if you set up proper hierarchies for the characters, possibly with some expressions to hold things in place. South Park characters may not need a lot of inverse kinematics if I remember correctly, but anyway Dan Ebberts has some useful expressions here.

 

 

 

If lip-synching is to be involved, here's a Creative Cow tutorial.

 

 

 

Three minutes sounds to me like quite a lot. AE really isn't the proper platform for this kind of stuff, but frankly you don't need Maya for that either. Look at Moho and Toon Boom, they're relatively easy to pick up and they're really meant for such animations.

 

 

 

AA

 

AA

 

Thanks for the helpful info. I'm so familiar with AE that I jumped to that, but I glad I asked here. Those other tools may same me a lot of time (as long as the work flow is simple and it offers a good solution for lip-synching). After a quick look, it apprears that Anime Studio (Moho) is the better product. If anyone has experience with these, or any other tools, I'd love some feedback.

 

Thanks again

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We did a 3 minute animated video involving a farting pig and lots of dancing chickens (don't ask) a few years ago. it was done almost entirely in Moho (I think it was at version 3 or 4 at the time). We don't have it on our site anymore, but it sprang to life again as a viral video.

 

I'd say - out of AE or Moho- which one to choose really depends on your animation style.

If your characters are built from static parts rotating around their pivots, AE, a lot of clever parenting and some expressions may save your day. You could do mouth shapes with expressions if you really need to: you could have a null or invisible solid with a 'expression slider control' on it, and a bunch of mouth shapes in separate layers. link the opacity of the mouthshapes to the value of the slider control with some conditional logic. edit: (after watching it - thanks spritely) the cow tut with time remapping may be easier to setup for the expression-impaired :-)

As for precomposing or not: if your characters are relatively static, I'd keep them in the same comp to keep timing / synchronising simple. If they are moving about, or consist of many parts, precomping might be easier for keeping track of everything.

 

If you have a lot of bending and twisting joints going on, moho might be the better choice.

You can add some kind of 'bones' to your drawings and tie points of your drawing to those, so animating/keyframing one bone moves a whole limb. IK is possible. There is some kind of lipsync feature (you can fill a folder with different mouth shapes; afterwards you keyframe which shape is visible.)

Moho will probably be faster than AE for animating. The bone setup system is rather tedious to set up though. once you got that nailed, it works like a charm. Also keep in mind you have to draw in a specific style for the moho curves to play nice with the bones. importing illustrator artwork will give you all kinds of awkward results. and of course, it is a completely new program to learn. It took me a day or two to get up to speed with it. That's quite a bit if there's a deadline looming...

 

I should check out this 'anime studio' thing that moho transformed into. guess it's just a new owner though. luckily they kept the price tag low.

 

hope this helps and good luck!

Edited by somethingsmart

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We did a 3 minute animated video involving a farting pig and lots of dancing chickens (don't ask) a few years ago. it was done almost entirely in Moho (I think it was at version 3 or 4 at the time). We don't have it on our site anymore, but it sprang to life again as a viral video.

 

I'd say - out of AE or Moho- which one to choose really depends on your animation style.

If your characters are built from static parts rotating around their pivots, AE, a lot of clever parenting and some expressions may save your day. You could do mouth shapes with expressions if you really need to: you could have a null or invisible solid with a 'expression slider control' on it, and a bunch of mouth shapes in separate layers. link the opacity of the mouthshapes to the value of the slider control with some conditional logic. edit: (after watching it - thanks spritely) the cow tut with time remapping may be easier to setup for the expression-impaired :-)

As for precomposing or not: if your characters are relatively static, I'd keep them in the same comp to keep timing / synchronising simple. If they are moving about, or consist of many parts, precomping might be easier for keeping track of everything...

 

Can't thank you enough. Very helpful. What I need to do is 1/2 way between your two descriptions, so it's tough to decide. I understand the theory of the "expression slider control" and such that you described in AE, but I'm not that familiar so it could be a pain. I was planning on manually controlling the lip-synching in AE by creating different loops and overlaying them at the appropriate time. As I think about trying to do body/limb movement in AE, I start to feel the hours upon hours of pain. BUT, I take note of your point that if you don't draw the characters in Moho it could cause some problems. I've already produced many of the characters in Photoshop and Illustrator. It says you can import them, but I doubt I'll be able to zoom and move without issues cropping up.

 

I've downloaded a demo (although it looks like it's not the Pro version!) to play around with. I'll start playing with it.

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So I did a job where we were animating an already completed comicbook. This was good because the comic book kind of acted like a done storyboard. We got an intern to path the characters out in PS, and then I went through and split them up into layered puppets for AE. Then for all of the characters we drew stock mouths and imported just the heads and mouth pieces into Toon Boom and used the auto lipsynch feature in Toon Boom, which was much quicker then the AE CreativeCow Ahron Rabinowitz method (which we also tried), but obviously less acurate (it has some tweaking options, but I have found that just a mouth moving to dialog is often enought if you are going for the South Park look (see also any old anime)). Then we exported out .movs with alphas from toonboom, brought em into AE and moved the camera around alot with 2.5 D and used a lot of depth of field, motion blur and particular stuff (rain and snow etc) to create enough motion to justify calling it "animation" wthtout having to do any frame by frame.

 

Just my experience. The whole thing took about a week with a full time sound designer doing the sound and VO in a nice studio (good sound and voice acting is more important then animation when doing "south park" type stuff) and me animating and an intern pathing out in photoshop... and the whole thing was about 90 secs.

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So I did a job where we were animating an already completed comicbook. This was good because the comic book kind of acted like a done storyboard. We got an intern to path the characters out in PS, and then I went through and split them up into layered puppets for AE. Then for all of the characters we drew stock mouths and imported just the heads and mouth pieces into Toon Boom and used the auto lipsynch feature in Toon Boom, which was much quicker then the AE CreativeCow Ahron Rabinowitz method (which we also tried), but obviously less acurate (it has some tweaking options, but I have found that just a mouth moving to dialog is often enought if you are going for the South Park look (see also any old anime)). Then we exported out .movs with alphas from toonboom, brought em into AE and moved the camera around alot with 2.5 D and used a lot of depth of field, motion blur and particular stuff (rain and snow etc) to create enough motion to justify calling it "animation" wthtout having to do any frame by frame.

 

Just my experience. The whole thing took about a week with a full time sound designer doing the sound and VO in a nice studio (good sound and voice acting is more important then animation when doing "south park" type stuff) and me animating and an intern pathing out in photoshop... and the whole thing was about 90 secs.

 

Very helpful feedback. Your description ALMOST makes me wish my animation was more advanced so I could follow your flow, although now that I think about it I might be able to utilize AE by going .movs with alphas.

 

I'd love to see the final project if it's available anywhere. I've been working with Anime Studio for a few hours and it has some promise. Many aspects are familiar if you've used Flash or something similiar. The bones system seems pretty easy to set up. Now I'll need to test it on imported files, which may prove troublesome (although because the animation will be fairly basic, I may be ok).

 

Thanks for the input.

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