Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Lip synch animating with the slide controller in After Effects

The only lip synch animations that I've done, I've done in Flash. I wasn't entirely sure how the workflow would be most efficient in after effects, but here's one that I discovered to be pretty quick and clean. It involves time remapping and a slider control.

1. Bring the ai file of your character in as a composition with all of the different mouth shapes on their own layer.

2. Pre-compose all of the mouth shapes into one composition called "Mouth Shapes". You should now have 2 layers in your main composition. One layer is the composition containing the mouth shapes, and the other is the layer containing everything else.

3. Open the "Mouth Shapes" composition and make the duration of each layer 1 frame. Use Animation presets to stagger the layers end to end so that you have a different mouth shape on every frame of the composition. (Animation>Keyframe Assistant>Sequence layers) Make sure that the "overlap" checkbox is un-checked.

To keep things neat and tidy, change your comp settings to match the number of frames in your comp. ie. if you have 15 mouth shapes, make the comp 15 frames long.

4. Go back out into your main composition. Select the "Mouth Shapes" layer and enable time remapping. (Layer>Time>Enable Time Remapping) Select the time remapping properties under the mouth shapes layer and type the number 3 into the time code contained in that property layer. You should notice that the mouth shape changed to correspond with the mouth shape in frame 3 of your "Mouth Shapes" composition. Set a keyframe in the time remapping property. Be sure to right click on the keyframe and select "Toggle Hold Keyframe" from the menu. This way it will hold on frame 3 of that composition until you set another key frame to change it to a different mouth shape.

5. Now it's time to add slider controls. Delete the key frames that you added to the "Mouth Shapes" layer. The next step is to create a null object that will control the time remapping property of the "Mouth Shapes" composition.

Go to Layer>New>Null Object. Name your new layer "Mouth Controller".

Next, add a slider control to the layer. (Effect>Expression Controls>Slider Control)

Add an expression to the slider control effect that you just added to the "Mouth Controller" layer (Animation>Add Expression).

Now, select the time remapping effect on your "Mouth Shapes" layer and add an expression to it as well.

Add this script to the "Mouth Controller" layer: effect("Frequency")("Slider")

Now add this script to the time remap expression: [1*thisComp.layer("Mouth Controller").effect("Frequency")("Slider")];

You should now be able to go up to the slider controls under "Mouth Controller" and click and hold on the value then move your cursor from left to right and see the mouth shapes change. Add a keyframe to the slider property and dont forget to change it to hold keyframe. Scrub along your audio until you're ready for the mouth shape to change then move the slider again to the new shape you want to use. It should automatically add a key frame for you.

There may be additional tricks to use with this method, and there may be ways to clean it up, but this new technique allowed me to animate a lip synch for my character very quickly. Below is a sample of the animation. The same method could be used for other facial features such as eyebrows, forehead wrinkles, ear wiggles and blinking. The secondary motion of the head, arms, and rest of the body could be added afterwards.

Now I just need to put together a little slider app that does the same thing for flash. :)

(This animation test was done using a character from an American United Life Insurance Company project that we animated that is used to encourage 20 somethings to think about saving for retirement. Special thanks to Vince Gorman and Dave Devries for character design)

Let me know if this tutorial was helpful! I'd love feedback.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sorority Anti-Hazing PSA Illustration

Here's an illustration of a sorority girl that I did for an anti-hazing public service announcement. We do a lot of simple vector-y illustrations here at work because most are used to be animated in flash. It would be fun to drum up some work that allowed us to do illustrations with more texture and depth. For now, we'll just have to work on some of those outside of work.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Grisette Logo

Recently I've been dabbling in t-shirt screen print design. Mostly I've been putting designs together for specific events, but I also have quite a few little designs that I created just for fun. I thought I might try and take them around to local boutiques to see if there is any interest. I figured I should put them under some sort of name or label, so I decided on the name "Grisette". There were several aspects of the term that appealed to me and seemed to fit with the type of designs that I am producing. Here's a draft of the logo that I'm playing with for the label. Hopefully soon I can put together a few experiments with my own screen here at home. The process is so interesting to me. It'll be a tight squeeze trying to do anything in the bathroom downstairs, but we'll see how it goes. If nothing else, it will give me a fun project to work on once it starts getting cold outside.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007 is Live

Well, the Save My Set site went through a few rounds of revisions and eventually ended up here at My favorite part of this site was retro fitting the design with the translated headers for the Spanish site. Nice job to Mindy, Spencer, and the rest of the web/interactive team on getting it up and running on a tight deadline.

Oranje 2007

My first experience with Oranje was last Saturday. Mediasauce had booth space so I was there helping to set it up beforehand then worked a shift during the event. Oranje was located in a giant abandoned factory this year so there was a lot of open space to play with. Our booth was made up of giant sheets of viscuine that we stretched over the metal poles that formed its frame. We set up 2 photo scenes inside the booth.

The "play" photo scene that a blue sky scene, sod floor, and random props like sunglasses, wigs, bubbles, windmills, badmitten rackets, and kickballs. The "work" scene contained wood paneling, an old desk, phonebooks, old computers, and construction hats. We would let people back into the scenes 2 at a time, grab their email, then let them pose however they were inspired to pose for 3 photos. The range of inspiration was wide!

Another cool thing about the booth was that the photos that were taken were then projected onto the viscuine so that it could be seen outside the booth. I will have to find photos of the outsde of the booth from someone to share.

I think it was one of the more "interactive" booths at Oranje and a lot of people seemed to have fun with it. On Tuesday we launched a website where people could type in the email address that they gave us to find and download their photos. Nate G did the design for the page as well as the "Work is Play" logo that was projected onto the booth. He was also one of the principle photographers along with Mitch M. and Larry L.

Here are 3 snapshots from our group and one from a practice shot during setup:

I had my little video camera with me during setup, it will show you a little more about what the space was like that we had to work with. You will need to have the Divx codec in order to view the movie. I'll have to add photos of the booth all put together later.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Old Pencil Drawings

Another area of the old HD contained a few pencil drawings of my family that I did many moon ago and the tea diffuser I did in metals and jewelry making. The roof is a lid that lifts off so that you can insert the tea leaves, then you place the tea diffuser into an entire pot of tea. The tea diffuses out of the carvings on the side that were made with a very tiny little coping saw.

Here's a more recent sketch I did for an art swap we had at work.

Old School Work Archives

Very old Photoshop work. (Photoshop airbrushed illustration of Edgerin James, an airbrushed illustration of a girl viewing the streets of chicago from her car window, a collage design using some photos I'd taken around Lafayette, and a scientific illustration of a garden spider)

Old segment intros I did for a college show I worked on called CG-TV. They were created using Illustrator, 3D Max, and After Effects.

An old flash project I worked on for ITaP one summer. Created the characters and animation using Illustrator and Flash.
Tonight I found my old external hard drive from school. I had to search through boxes of cables to find a power supply and cable to hook it up. I found some of my first photoshop projects, an old ITaP flash project, and a couple of little animated intros that I did for this computer graphics tech tv type show we did back then (You can see Alex and Kindari as hosts at the very end of the Tech spot intro). It is so embarrassing to look back at most of this old stuff, but it's all part of the process so we cant just pretend it never happened! Although, I'll admit, there are definitely things too terrifying to see the light of day that will remain on the hd for the sake of anyone actually viewing this blog.

Armadillos are fascinating!

They jump straight up in the air when they get surprised! Unfortunately this seems to be a cruel involuntary defense mechanism to give a creature who needs to cross busy intersections. Poor lil fella.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Lebfest '07 T-shirts in Action

Last weekend marked the 2nd annual Lebfest. Around 60 of us gathered in the "Friendly City" of Lebanon, Indiana to celebrate Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Friendliness. We gathered beneath the friendly city water tower for opening ceremonies then competed in sports at the park, hung out, challenged each other to ridiculous competitions, and partied until the wee hours of the morning. We split into two teams that honor the two most popular forms of lawn ornamentation embraced by the city, the Porch Geese and the Garden Gnomes. As explained below, the t-shirts were designed to capture the energy and the "fest" aspect of Lebfest, while at the same time highlighting the team mascots and over-all spirit of patriotism that the town of Lebanon (and our beloved festival) prides itself on. Here are some shots of the shirts in action at Lebfest '07.

After several back and forths, name changes, and a spanish site translation the site is under construction. It should launch Mondy, at which point I'll link the site to this blogpost. In the meantime, here's the updated design.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Aquaphobic Octopus or Supersoaker Sniper

Ok.... so the title is a groaner and could use some help, but here's a little colored pencil/sharpie drawing I threw together for an art swap we did here at work. I was in the mood to do something semi-colorful on a nice dark deep colored paper and this is what it evolved into. I love very organic twisty imagery and octopus legs just sort of formed from my squiggles as I was planning it out. Before I knew it I had a very terrified looking octopus and ended up adding the little fishy as his aggressor. The paper was textured, so I decided to work with it and see what kind of result I could get using the textured side. I couldn't quite get the colors of this scan representative of the original, but oh well, close enough.

Everyone who participated in our art swap brought in a piece of art. There was a ton of variety from quilts, to photography, to paintings, to re-purposed ready made art, to quick character sketches. We all drew numbers and swapped based on what we drew. It was a lot of fun, I ended up with a very cool "burner" that Dan did, and Frank Tai got this piece.

Other old sketches.