After Effects – Expression Controls (part 2)

This will be a slightly retroactive post because, while I’m going to publish this on the day it was meant to be done, it did take me the better part of a week to get this animation working. I finally ended up with something I think looks good, though.

I’m aware that the file sizes we were given to work with were massive – saving them took up about 45GB on my drive – but my computer wasn’t powerful enough to fully render the finished file with all the “shimmer and sparkle” to it. I had to turn off a lot of the extra animations, otherwise my computer was grinding to a halt and then After Effects would crash. However, I still managed to render something without those extras, which took about an hour. Next time, I might have to borrow Marc’s computer to finish the rendering; even though his render also took an hour, his laptop could handle the extras.

There really isn’t too much to say about the process of making the animation itself. Everything we’ve learned so far about keying was what I did here, using the controls we set up last lesson to rotate/move the various robot parts. I keyed the arms first and then had the neck follow along TIX’s right arm – I needed to know what path the neck and head had to following and there were a number of tweaks I had to make along the way, but I think the animation ended up looking quite smooth.

I think the biggest issue I had was purely down to hardware. I’m very glad I found out a solution to the preview pane only rendering a fraction of the animation at a time! I had to reduce the quality of the preview frame down to quarter just to see what the keying was doing. Otherwise, the computer would grind to a halt or it was very difficult to time the action properly. Everything felt like it was going in slow motion at first, but once I’d done the quality reduction it was MUCH easier to time the head slide.

Overall, I’m looking forward to animating more in After Effects!

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