Animating in After Effects

Animating With Key Frames

To animate and give my animation life and character, I took my elements into After Effects and began creating my project.

I began with the opening scene, animating the motion path of a leaf being blown in the wind. To do this I used keyframes to direct the path and movement of the leaf.  I created the initial position, scale and rotation of the leaf, created a key frame and then moved my time indicator along a few frames, changed the values and path appropriately and created another key frame. I did this several times and copied the layer multiple times, adjusting each one to add some variety. If I had more time I would have added more leaves and tried to make the motion more realistic however, due to time constraints, I was happy with the outcome and moved onto the next task.

Screen Shot 2017-11-07 at 13.39.24

I decided I wanted to animate a wind effect, to do this I read some instructions online to create a wind effect. I added a solid colour and added a fractal noise effect on top of it, the result is pictured below. Next I changed the evolution of the fractal noise layer, adding a key frame to control the speed of the evolution, and evolution made the splotches in the solid layer move. screen-shot-2017-11-07-at-13-13-10.png

I made some adjustments to brightness and contrast and how blurred the layer was and just the blending mode to ‘Screen’ this gave the impression of a transparent layer and looked more like wind. The last thing to do was to move the wind into the correct position and edit the timings with the rest of the scene. I was happy with this effect and used it again later in my animation.

Screen Shot 2017-11-07 at 13.20.43

Using Puppet Pin Tool


I used the puppet pin tool several times during the process of editing my animation. Here I used it to animate the scratching fingers in this scene. I placed the pins on the joints of the fingers where they would bend and move, and set them in position, size and rotation and created a key frame.
I moved the time on a few frames and then simply moved my pin up or down as needed and it create a fluid effect of motion. I repeated this several times to create a loop which I copied and pasted to create continuous movement. I think this was a successful way to animate parts of the sequence as it gave me a freer sense of manipulation when playing around with movement.

Using Masks


At one point during my animation my protagonist walks onto a train, after they have opened and poured light into the scene. I created a train in photoshop with the doors on separate, editable layers so they could be moved and animated in After Effects, and I created a light layer underneath. When it came time to animate I realised I had a problem, the light was showing under the doors layer which ruined the illusion that the doors were opening to reveal the light inside.
Following advise from a class tutorial I used a mask to overcome this. By setting the position and opacity of the mask on the light layer and using keyframes, I was able to gradually the move the mask to match the movement of the door. It worked well for the sequence and believe it looked effective.

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