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Using the AE CS3 Puppet Tool with Motion Particles

COW Library : Adobe After Effects Tutorials : Jim Geduldick : Using the AE CS3 Puppet Tool with Motion Particles
Using the AE CS3 Puppet Tool with Motion Particles

 

Tutorial Courtesy of Toolfarm.com


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Author: Jim Geduldick, Toolfarm, Inc.
Skill Level: Medium
Version: AE CS3, Motion 3
Project Files: No project files
Movie Sample: See "Companion Tutorial" highlight box below
Plug-ins Used: No third party plug-ins used


Creative Cow Companion Tutorial

Before you dive in, make sure you watch the companion tutorial created by my After Effects NY colleague and Creative Cow's resident AE Podcaster, Aharon Rabinowitz. Aharon gives more insight into his ideas about using the Puppet Tool with Particles.

Jim GWhen I first played with After Effects CS3, one of my favorite new tools was the Puppet Tool. I thought, "Wow, this is going to make my animations so much easier, save me time, and make my animations look a lot cleaner." The idea for this tutorial came about from tinkering with all the particle system software I have on my computers and learning AE CS3.

I tend to use several different software packages and plug-ins to achieve certain looks for my projects, so I thought it would be fun to show you some particles made in Apple Motion 3 and then bring them into AE CS3 to animate them with the Puppet Tool.



Instructions

  1. Start off by opening up Motion (Note: You can use earlier versions of Motion or other particle emitting software like Wondertouch's Particle Illusion 3 to create the particles, also.)
  2. In Motion, navigate to your Browser and the Tab labeled Library-Particle Emitters. This is where your Preset Effects (Particles) and Content will reside
  3. After previewing some Particles, choose which ever you like and click Apply. This will add the Particle to your Timeline and all Layers will be viewable in the Layers Tab (F5 hotkey).

    LIbrary tab

  4. There are many options for changing the parameter controls for the Particle system via a HUD (Heads Up Display) window. This is a free-floating tool palette within Motion. Because I am going to do most of my tweaking in After Effects, I am only going to change the Emission Range and Birth Rate of my Particle.


    particles

  5. Automatic Duck's Pro Import AE will give you an even faster workflow between Final Cut Pro , Motion and After Effects.
    After your are happy with your settings choose File > Export.
  6. When the Export dialogue box appears, make a Quicktime Movie and click the Options button to get advanced video/audio output choices. Choose your compressor. Most of the time. I use Apple's Animation codec to export with an Alpha Channel, with the least amount of loss on the movie file.


    Export options.png

  7. Open up After Effects CS3 and bring in the footage of our Particles. When you first import the footage, a dialogue box will ask you how you want to Interpret Footage. This is because the file has an unlabeled alpha channel.

    If you are unsure you can click 'Guess' but in this case, I am choosing "Straight - Unmatted".


    interpret footage

  8. Create a new Comp matching your desired settings. This project is a DV NTSC comp.
  9. I want to spice up the Smoke movie a little so I am going to add a Hue/Saturation effect to the particle movie. That's Effect > Color Correction > Hue /Saturation.
  10. Once the effect is applied, select the check box Colorize in the Effect Controls window. Adjust as needed.
  11. Once the color is exactly where you want it, we are ready to bring in our image. I happen to have a picture of a car salvaged from my freshman year of highschool - a.k.a. "The Jalopy".


    jalopy.png

  12. This where the fun of the Puppet Tool begins. Select the Puppet Pin Tool from the After Effects Main Tool palette.


    puppet menu

  13. You will be able to set puppet points just like you were using a pin cushion. Pin points will show up as little yellow dots.

    pin cushion.png

  14. The Puppet Tool has a option menu in the After Effects Main palette bar that allows you to enable and disable the Mesh view, expand your mesh and triangles and set recording options.
  15. Click the Record Options link and a window pops up. It explains that if you hold down the Command key while dragging a Puppet Pin you be able to record your animation, like Sketch and Toon.


    puppet tool options.png

  16. When holding down the Command key, a little stop watch appears when your cursor is over a Puppet Pin. Drag your Puppet Pin around to warp, bend and stretch the Particle. In my case, I want to make the particle movie look like it is spewing hot smoke out of the car in different directions with rapid movement.

  17. Once you are done recording your movements, the will file update with the keyframes in the Comp window and Timeline. You can change these keyframes or take it to the next level and start using expressions.


    keyframes.png

  18. Getting your desired effect with the Puppet Tool may take some practice. With all the infinite options you have now with Final Cut Studio 2 and Adobe Production Premium, there are more than enough tools in both packages to keep you creating custom animations and graphics or whatever it is you can think up.

This is just a brief workflow between Motion 3 and After Effects CS3. Be sure to keep and eye out for more articles and podcasts from Aharon and me about the more advanced Puppet Tool workflow and other features of Motion 3 and After Effects CS3.

© 2007 Toolfarm Inc.

Feel free to discuss this tutorial in CreativeCOW's AE forum or Motion forum.

 



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