Bouncing and Falling: Defying the Rules of Gravity

You can give life to simple, inanimate objects by animating their movements. Merely falling off a ledge is easy, and the expected result is to just disappear quickly (like the orange slice in Chapter 4, "Cause and Effect"). However, if you give the object an expression of "Oh nooooooooo!" before the final fall, it will take on a whole new meaning!

We're going to animate a single image of a pineapple that bounces across the frame and right off the edge. The slight delay before the stretch and then the fall will add to the characterization of this simple object.

Create a new project in After Effects and a new composition, 640 x 480 NTSC, 3 seconds in length. Make the Rulers visible and drag down a guide horizontally approximately halfway. Import the image Pineapple.psd from the DVD and drag it to the Comp 1 window. Scale it to 50% and move it on top of the guide (Figure 5.6).

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Note: When you need to stretch, zoom,or scale up an image layer, make sure the original is at least as big as the largest scaled size or length of the stretch,so there won't be any loss of image quality. If you bring an image layer in at 100% and need to stretch it or scale it larger, you will experience image degradation and pixelation.

To make the pineapple appear to "bounce" across the frame, we will move not only its position but also the vertical scale at the bottom of each bounce. We also need to adjust the angle of the pineapple on the approach and take-off of each bounce to move it forward.

Let's first create the position and scale path. Start with the Indicator on the Timeline at zero and drag the pineapple off the left side of the frame. Click both the Position and Scale Stopwatches and apply the settings in Table 5.2. This will set the key frames for the basic motion path of the animation (Figure 5.7).

Note: When inserting variable settings on only one axis, make sure you deselect the link icon on the Timeline,or you will change all of the linked axis settings as well.

To give the effect of hang time, as we discussed in Chapter 3, "3-D Layers from Photoshop Layers," let's slow down the upper key frames of the bounces by applying the Easy Ease Keyframe Assistant to both the Position and Scale key frames. The default setting of 33.33% will be sufficient ease in and out of these points, occurring on each bounce.

Table 5.2 Position and Scale Keyframes

Transform

00;00

00;08

00;15

00;23

01;00

01;07

01;15

01;22

02;00

Position

-75.0,

-9.0,

123.0,

243.0,

341.0,

475.0,

558.0,

567.0,

574.0,

172.0

82.0

172.0

79.0

172.0

82.0

150.0

205.0

652.0

Scale (%)

50.0,

50.0,

50.0,

50.0,

50.0,

50.0,

50.0,

45.0,

40.0

50.0

40.0

50.0

40.0

50.0

50.0

80.0

Next, we need to create the slight delay before the pineapple falls off the ledge on the right side of the frame, and we need to apply the Easy Ease Keyframe Assistant to both the Position and Scale key frames. Select the Keyframe Velocity for the Position key frame only, and set it to 100% for both Incoming and Outgoing settings. Leave the Scale Keyframe Velocity settings at the default 33.33% (Figure 5.8).

Keyframe Velocity

Keyframe type: Position

Incoming Velocity:

Outgoing Velocity:

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Speed: 0 ptxets/sec

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Figure 5.8

Set the Position Keyframe Velocity higher than Scale Velocity to produce the delay just before falling.

Figure 5.8

Set the Position Keyframe Velocity higher than Scale Velocity to produce the delay just before falling.

Now let's create the angles to the pineapple's motion that will give the illusion of it being propelled forward under its own power, similar to the animated vegetables in Veggie Tales. Move the Indicator to zero in the Timeline, and apply the Transform effect to the pineapple layer. Click the Skew Stopwatch in the Timeline, and apply the settings in Table 5.3 (Figure 5.09).

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Figure 5.09

Apply the Skew effect to create the illusion of forward motion on the bounces.

Figure 5.09

Apply the Skew effect to create the illusion of forward motion on the bounces.

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Table 5.3 Effects:Transform: Skew Keyframes

Table 5.3 Effects:Transform: Skew Keyframes

Skew Keyframes

Run a RAM Preview to make sure the animation settings are correct and make corrections if necessary. You can compare the timing of your animation to the QuickTime movie PineappleJump-320.mov, in the Chapter 5 folder on the DVD.

To give a more realistic look to the animation, we will apply some motion blur to the faster sections of the motion path. Apply the Directional Blur filter (Effect > Blur & Sharpen > Directional Blur), move the Indicator to the zero position on the Timeline, and click the Blur Length Stopwatch. Leave the Direction set at 0.0°.

In the sections where the pineapple is moving up or down in the bounce, apply a Blur Length of 7.0, but apply a setting of 0.0 in the compressed bounce and "hang time" sections (as shown in Table 5.4).

Table 5.4 Effects: Directional Blur: Blur Length Keyframes

Blur Length

Keyframes

7.0

00;00—00;06, C

)0;10-00;13,00;17-00;20,00;24-00;28,01;02-01;05,and 01;09-01;13

0.0

00;08,00;15,0

0;22,01;00,01;07, and 01;18-01;22

25.0

01:27

The final fall of the animation gets a much larger amount of blur applied to it (25.0) because it's an exaggerated free-fall (Figure 5.10).

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Figure 5.10 Applying a motion blur to the faster sections of the motion path will enhance the realism of the animation.

Figure 5.10 Applying a motion blur to the faster sections of the motion path will enhance the realism of the animation.

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