After Effects Tutorial: Looping Portrait

Today, we had our first After Effects tutorial with tutor Sara Nesteruk. This focused on motion loops, which Sara explained was an easy way of lengthening your project.  In preparation for the tutorial we were instructed to create a simple portrait on Illustrator, and bring some examples of textures. I illustrated an image of frank Sinatra.

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The aim was to produce a 10 second loop that loops infinitely. Therefore it will not stop and repeat itself.  Before we properly started, we were shown a short film in the style that we hoped to create. It used animation, graphics and motion graphics utilising loops of motion throughout. After we watched the video we imported our already created illustration into After Effects using the “retain layer size” option. Sara explained that just clicking “composition”  will keep the size and it makes it easier to go back and make any alterations.

With my illustration imported. It was essential that each part of the illustration was on its own layer, that way each could be animated. Firstly I decided what I wanted to animate. I wanted to keep my motion simple, therefore concentrated on the head movement. This involved rotation. To do this I simply chose my layer>transform>rotation and then selected the angle of my rotation. In order for it to animate you had to select the stopwatch button and drag you cursor over the length of time you want you motion to last.  With the basic head rotation complete, I then repeated the process in order for it to last the 10 second duration.

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To make it look a little more realistic, I decided to animate the hat separately from the head, so when the head rotates the hat will follow in the same process but delayed, to create a realistic swinging effect. This was done in exactly the same way as the head, however I made sure I didn’t rotate the hat at too much of an angle otherwise it would like like it’s falling off. Although it would have been nice to have more motion animation, I was quite happy with the simple head rotation of Sinatra, therefore did nothing more with him, as I was going to animate the tie.  Instead, I decided to create an illustration of a bird and for that to fly around in the background. With the bird imported and chose its layer and created the basic movement. This involved using the position stopwatch. To make the motion seem more realistic, I rotated the bird at certain points of the motion so that it looked more like it was flying. I also changed the scale of the bird at different positions to make it seem as though it was going off into the distance.

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To finalise the animation, it was just the process of rendering the composition. We made a master copy first which was the highest quality with full resolution and a frame rate of 25. We set the time span to “length of comp” and made the output mode to QuickTime. Lastly we went into the format options and selected “apple pro res 4444”- this was the format best for the tutorial. With the animation rendered, we then wanted to create a low resolution version. this was done in QuickTime and exported as 720p- suitable to upload on Vimeo.