When 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.
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.)
navigate to your Browser and the Tab labeled Library-Particle Emitters.
This is where your Preset Effects (Particles) and Content will reside
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).
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.
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.
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.
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
If you are unsure you can click 'Guess' but in this case, I am choosing "Straight - Unmatted".
Create a new Comp matching your desired settings. This project is a DV NTSC comp.
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.
Once the effect is applied, select the check box Colorize in the Effect Controls window. Adjust as needed.
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".
This where the fun of the Puppet Tool begins. Select the Puppet Pin Tool from the After Effects Main Tool palette.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When most people hear the words "alpha channels", they think "transparency", but that's not exactly accurate. The truth is more complex, and a quite bit more interesting! Join longtime VFX artist, editor, software developer, and business owner Simon Ubsdell for Part 4 of the best look behind the technology of compositing that you've ever seen, packed with practical advice for applying the secrets of alpha channels that's simply not possible before understanding these underlying principles. No matter which applications you're using for editing, compositing, or visual effects, this one is a must-see!
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