After Effects - Animated Infographic Video & Data Visualisation

Animating TIP - Puppet tool in After Effects

Daniel Walter Scott

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Hi there, in this tutorial we're going to make things all floppy and real, like this, using the Puppet Tool. Let's go in there.


So we're going to do this in a separate Comp. So up here, 'New Composition'. We're going to call this one 'Puppet Tool'. Everything's going to be the same. I'm going to use some off gray, don't know why. And we're going to bring in some files. I'm going to show you different ways of bringing them in. Here's my exercise files here, Puppet1 and Puppet2. We've been bringing them in, in a kind of official way. You can actually just drag them on to the page there. You can see, they've come through, I'm going to put them in my files. If you're on a PC, works the same way. You just need to have the window open in front of it, just drag it in. Off you go.


So what I've got is Puppet1. We're going to put them right in this space. Puppet1's at the bottom, we're going to lock it because it's the cogs, we're not actually going to turn those. You can easily turn those into animated cogs. What we're going to do is our example, where we get this to fly and be a bit bendy. We'll zoom out a little bit, so we can see everything.


So, first of all we're going to add our little bit of animation. So, on this we're going to hit 'P' for Position. And we're going to start the stopwatch, and we'll start them over here. And after about that much, 10 frames. He's going to be, maybe a little bit longer. 14 frames. I'm going to drag him in, holding 'Shift', so it goes perfectly straight. It's up to you. So you can start dragging first, and then hold 'Shift'. So we got the first bits. And what we might do is we might add some Easing now. We've added Easing to the beginning and end. The whole way through this. So what we're going to do in this case is we're actually going to add Easing to this last one because I want it to start fast and slow down here at the end.


So I'm going to add 'Velocity', and I'm going to get it to slow down to '75' because that's my favorite. So now, it's going to zoom along, then kind of slow down, and stop there. If it doesn't, if I click it again, go to 'Keyframe Velocity' and we're going to change the speed here to '0'. And now it should do it. Great! Awesome! So, what we're going to do is get that little tail and the bend. So it's going to zoom along, come around, stop, and we want it kind of bending out.


To do it we need to add some Puppet Points. And it's hard to do when it's off screen so we're going to move it, so it's kind of half way there. Grab the Puppet Tool, which is this guy there. Click on that, and we need three in this case. We need one there, one in the middle, and one at the end. You can have as many as you want depending on much control you want over it. The less pins, the easier it is, and more natural it looks. Now these are actually adding Keyframes at the same time. So if I click on the Puppet Tool, and hit you… here are my secret shortcuts showing me all the Keyframes if I move this all the way. Here's all the Keyframes that have been made. I kind of made them at the wrong stage. I want them to be all the way over here at the beginning. It's just easier to do obviously on its own screen, than it's off screen.


So, first up, I want to grab this guy, stroke up my Puppet tool. I'm going to drag this one, and kind of drag-- oops, undo. I've got them all selected down here, so I'm going to click off. I'm going to grab this guy. And I grab this guy. And then, if you slide along, it's kind of what's happening. It's kind of zooming across, so let's hit 'space bar'. So now what we need to do is when it gets close to this end part here, we need to just move the Keyframes around. So I'm going to grab this one, straighten it back up. To be honest, I probably should have left one more Keyframe in the head there to stop it bending, but, hey ho, we're getting there.


You can see, it's not doing the flippity flop that I want. So I'm going to line it back up here. And actually what I wanted to do is go a little bit past where I wanted it. So it's going to go like that. And after a couple of more frames, it's going to kind of flop back. Here we go, floppity flop. Not too far. And another couple of frames we're going to get it go just a bit back further. We're getting close to it's kind of final rest. And we go there.


Now, the timing is all going to be a bit mixed up when you first do it. So we're going to have to play around with it. So let's not get too excited. Let's click off. And space. It's not our best but you get the idea, right? That's what we're going to do. So what do I need it to do? We're going to have to play around with the timing of these. So I'm going to select them all, hold down 'Alt'. And just drag them out, because it feels like it needs more. What does it need less? I'm holding 'Alt', and it kind of compresses them while I'm dragging them. And that might be it, so,,, cool. There…


It's getting there, maybe just these three out. Now I'm just playing around with timing. This is what will happen to all your projects. You'll spend ages with this kind of last part where you're just 'finesse'ing it. There's no exact rules because it depends on the shape of the object, how fast it's moving, and what you kind of want it to feel like. I think, probably I need to bring this whole thing across because it's taking too long to slide across. Maybe too far. It's a little bit painful to watch, I know. Maybe this one I need. Needs to be longer. Just having it a bit too fast. Yes, I'm liking it.


Now I'm just wiggling around, and playing. I guess I can edit it, and make it perfect on the first time and you'd be doing, and going, "Mine doesn't look that good." I'm doing it for you, my people. There's a lot of playing around with this type of stuff. Especially with Puppet tool, because you want to-- we're kind of faking real life. And there's a lot of wiggling around. It's quite cool if you get like, say it's a glass of water, and it's flopping in, you can get that water to flop back and forth as you'd imagine it would. If you've got a person, say this little icon here, it's kind of pop in, sliding in, over here. It could kind of bend as it comes in.


And that is going to be it for the Puppet Tool. Let's get on to the next tutorial.