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Tutorial: Animating Follow-Through in After Effects

Joey Korenman


Well… maybe lie is a strong word. He uses the term “secondary-animation” to describe what he's showing, but some of the fine instructors at Ringling College of Art and Design where he used to work straightened him out. The correct term is “follow-through.” Secondary-animation is something else entirely. Now, back to it…If you're looking to bring life into lifeless animations one of the ways you can do this is by adding follow-through to your animations. It's an easy principle to understand and once you get the hang of it you'll be using it all the time.Make sure you watch the Intro to Animation Curves lesson first before tackling this one.




Tutorial Full Transcript Below 👇:

Joey Korenman (00:21):

Hey there, Joey here for school of motion. And in this lesson, we're going to talk about one of the principles of animation follow through. Now in the video, I call it secondary animation, which as I found out later is not correct. So when you hear me say secondary animation, just replace that in your brain with follow through my mistake. If you've watched one of our other lessons about animation principles, you know how important they are to make your animations look great. They're that secret sauce that makes everything look better. We only have so much time in this lesson to go over, follow through. So if you really want some in-depth animation training that will give you a foundation to create truly outstanding work, you're going to want to check out our animation bootcamp course. It's a very intense training program and you also get access to class only podcasts, PDs, and critiques on your work from our experienced teaching assistants.

Joey Korenman (01:11):

Every moment of that course is designed to give you an edge in everything you create as a motion designer. Also, don't forget to sign up for a free student account. So you can grab the project files from this lesson as well as assets from any other lesson on the site. Now let's hop into after effects and get started. Um, so here is just a couple of layers and, um, this is sort of where I started, uh, when I built the, the last animation that I just showed you guys. So the first thing I want to show you is how I got the, the main part of the logo, this, this kind of greenish square. Um, I want to show you how I got that to come into the frame and bend as it came in. Okay. So sort of like the, the body of it is lagging a little bit behind the rest of it.

Joey Korenman (01:56):

Um, so the first thing I did was, uh, I tried to think about a cool way for this to animate on. And I thought that if it came on like a long, thin rectangle, that would give me a cool opportunity to have it bend. All right. So what, the way I made this box was, uh, with, um, just a layer and then I made a mask for it. Right. And you can see that the mask, um, it was just a rectangular mask, but I added points, um, at, at the mid point between each side, um, knowing that I was gonna want to, you know, possibly have this thing bend, this makes it a whole lot easier. Okay. Um, and I'll show you how to do that in a second. So I started out by, um, by stretching it out. So let's have it be maybe 1 50, 1 X, maybe 20 on. Why? So you just get this long, thin rectangle. Maybe it could even be a little bit longer than that. Okay, cool. So let's start by having it, uh, fly into the screen. All right. So we're working in 24 here

Joey Korenman (02:59):

And, uh, actually we're not working in 24, working 30. I'd rather work in 24. There we go. All right. So let's go forward a 12 frames, hit P to bring up the position and I've already separated the dimensions here. Um, and if you haven't watched my intro to curves and after effects, tutorial, I highly recommend you do that cause I'm gonna kind of fly through it on this. So I'm going to put a key frame here, go down here, drag this guy down. Um, and I'm going to have this guy overshoot just a little bit. I'm going to go back to frames and drag him. Oh boy. My, uh, notice my tablet tends to double-click a lot more than it. Should we go?

Joey Korenman (03:49):

All right. So it goes a little bit too high, then it comes down, hop into the curve editor. Let's take a look at this. Okay. I'm going to have this thing shoot in really fast. Hang at the top. Hang there. There we go. All right. Let's do a quick Ram preview and see what we got. Okay, nice. So it's, it feels a little bit, uh, stiff and that's because, um, even if this was a piece of wood or something, it would bend if it was shooting into the frame that fast and that bending that is actually secondary animation, even though it's not technically a separate object. Um, it's animation that is caused by the primary animation, which is this movement. Okay. Now how can we get this thing to bend? Um, you could do the facts and you might be able to make that work, but sometimes the best way to control this is to just get in there and do it manually by animating the mask.

Joey Korenman (04:49):

So that's what we're going to do. Um, so let's first go to the end here and open up the mask properties and Pookie frame on mask path. Um, all right. And I'm gonna hit you so I can see all of the key frames at once. So when, um, when it's flying up in the air, okay. At its fastest point, it's going to be dragging the most. Okay. So what I can do is look at the curves in the Y position, and you can just kind of figure out where is it, the steepest? Well, it's kind of the steepest at the beginning. And then it slows down just a little bit. It probably really slows down right about here. So that's where I'm going to put the mass key frame. All right. So I'm gonna, I'm gonna hit period so I can pop in here and I'm just gonna grab these two points and I'm gonna hold shift and knock them down a little bit.

Joey Korenman (05:43):

Okay. Now, obviously that doesn't look right. We need, we need these, uh, to, to be curves. We don't want them to be stiff like that. So if you hit G which brings up the pen tool, uh, and you just hover it over, um, to point over any point that selected, then hold option, see how it changes to this, uh, kind of hollow upside down V shape. Um, if you click that, it will then sort of set these Bezy A's to be either completely, um, sharp or, or stretch them out quite a way. So that it's really curved. If I do it again, you'll see. It'll, it'll snap them back to, um, in, in other programs, this is called cussing them, um, and this rounds them out. So, uh, let's just take a look at that. Um, that actually looks okay. I, um, what I like to do is adjust the, um, so th if you think of this as the outside of the shape, and this would be the inside of the shape, this point here, the inside, I would tuck these in just a little bit.

Joey Korenman (06:56):

All right. So it's shooting up and then when it gets right before it stops, it's going to basically come back to its resting position, and then it's going to overshoot it at this point. All right. So now we need the, uh, the overshoot key for him. So let's come back up here and let's push it the other way and I'm just adjusting knees. All right. So it comes in overshoots lands, and I think what I'd want to happen is, is for it to overshoot then overshoot the other way, a little bit, and then land. All right. So I'm going to put, um, one more mass key frame over here and this key frame, I'm going to have it overshoot back down just a little bit.

Joey Korenman (07:49):

All right. And now I'm going to, uh, I'm gonna ease these key frames in and let's see what it looks like now. Okay. So it's actually working fairly well. Um, now with secondary animation, generally key frames, shouldn't line up like this, um, because secondary animation generally happens a little bit after the primary animation. Okay. Um, so I'm just going to take these key frames and I'm going to slide them forward in time, two frames. All right. And let's see what that looks like. And you can see now feels a little bit more jiggly, you know, and, and, and, and it kind of is a little more cartoony and the bigger a delay between the primary and secondary animation, the cartoony, or it feels, so I just moved everything back, one frame. All right. And now it's starting to feel a little bit better. Okay. Um, and I could, I could nitpick this.

Joey Korenman (08:46):

I would kind of want this. I would want it to come back down a little bit further here, but you get the idea that it's actually working pretty well. All right. So the next part of the animation is, uh, this long, thin rectangle sucks in and becomes a square. And as it does that, the sides of it kind of, um, pucker in and blow it out and do interesting things like that. Um, so let's move forward three frames, uh, and then let's look at the scale. All right. So we're going to put a key frame on scale and let's go forward, uh, eight frames. So I'm going to jump forward 10 and I'm holding basically the way I'm doing that. You guys don't know, hold shift, hit page down. It goes 10 frames forward, and then back two frames page up twice. Um, so first I want, uh, I want this to turn into a vertical rectangle. So right now the scale is 1 75 on X 20 on Y I'm going to just reverse those 20 on X on 75 on Y all right. Uh, let's easy, ease those, and let's just see what that looks like. Right. So on its own, it looks like that. Okay. Um, I want to mess with the curves a little bit. I just want them to, I want them to be a little bit more exaggerated, so I'm going to pull these handles out.

Joey Korenman (10:08):

Okay. So we've got the beginning of something kind of interesting here. Okay. Now, as this shape is coming in, uh, I want that same secondary animation happen. Okay. So, uh, what we need to do is adjust the mask again. So let's open up the mass key frames and you do that by pushing em, it brings up your mask path. So let's put a key frame here to use so we can see all of our key frames. And when we get to the end here, the mask is going to go back to normal. So let's put a key frame there in the middle. So we, you gotta kind of think about what's actually happening. So if this thing is sucking in this side, and this side are flying inward very quickly. So these points here are going to lag behind a little bit, kind of like that. Um, and because we have already pulled these Bezier points out, um, over here, uh, you can see that it actually already looks like a nice curve. So as it sucks in, and then it finishes. And so we wanted to kind of overshoot a little bit. Um, so let's see here, let's just preview this and see what looks like. And as I said before, the secondary animation, which is this mask path should be offset, maybe one frame.

Joey Korenman (11:38):

Okay. Um, so now, if this was, if we were going to overshoot the secondary animation, we could fake that. Um, by animating, we can animate this point in this point in a little bit. So why don't we do that? Why don't we, instead of, uh, why don't we take this key frame here, scoot it down a little ways. Let's copy this key frame. Uh, and I'm going to take this point in this point and scoot it in, and then me take this point in this point and scoot it in so that it, it overshoots in a little bit and then has to restretch itself out.

Joey Korenman (12:18):

Okay. Now we jump out and look at that. Now you can see how it makes that really simple scaling move, feel a lot better, and there's a lot more going on. And this doesn't take very long. I mean, it'll take you a little while to get the hang of, of, you know, thinking about motion in these terms. Um, but th this is an easy way to make a very simple move feel pretty cool. All right. So, um, so let's finish this move now. Um, we're going to go forward four frames, and now we're going to scale this to its correct size. So let's go eight frames. We'll do 100, 100.

Joey Korenman (13:00):

All right. So let's take a look at this part of the move. All right. That's pretty boring. Um, so let's adjust the curves, just going to pull these way out like this. So now it's a little more of a popping move. Okay. And I'm not going to deal with the, uh, the mask on this part of the move, cause I want to get to the next part of this tutorial. Um, so when this pops out, all right, what I want to have is the little triangle logo appear in some cool way. Um, so what I did was, um, I took the box and I animated the scale, uh, from small to big. So let's look at the scale key frames here just by hitting ASP Pookie frame here, let's go forward. Let's do six frames. Okay. And let's make this thing grow to one 50.

Joey Korenman (14:05):

Let's see what that looks like. Okay. I feel slow. We're going to have to adjust the curves. But another thing I want to do is, um, let's actually move this down. Two frames, go forward, two frames. And, uh, and, and we're going to do a little bit of a anticipation key frame here. So we're going to go from 100 to 95 to one 50, and it's a simple little thing, but what it does is it, especially when we get in and we make the curves feel better, um, it makes that movement feel a little bit more deliberate because the, the, the square is going to kind of, um, set itself up for this big move. Um, it's kinda nice to sometimes have things shrink just for a of frames right before they grow. Um, and it works the same way if things are moving left to right, have the move, um, you know, have them move right just a little bit and then shift left and shoot off to the right.

Joey Korenman (15:03):

You can kind of have it. It almost feels like it's taking a step before it comes forward. Just a nice little, a little trick. All right. So once this thing shoots out, I want the triangle to do the same thing. So I'm gonna turn this triangle layer on here, and it's already parented to the box. So what I'm going to do is put a key frame here on the scale. So it's right in line with the boxes key frame, then I'm going to come back here and I'm going to set this to zero, right. And now I'm going to hit option and the left bracket to clip that layer to right there. So it doesn't exist in time before then. Um, those are great hockey's option left bracket, right? Bracket. It basically trims your layer to wherever your play head is. Okay. Um, so now let's adjust the curves on the scale for the triangle.

Joey Korenman (15:56):

All right. So we get that nice pop on that. All right. And, uh, you can see right now the triangle scales up the same time as the box. Okay. If we're using secondary animation, all we got to do is delay that one frame, all right. And maybe needs to be a little more, let's do two frames. And all of a sudden, now it's starting to feel like the box is kind of throwing the triangle at us. All right. That's that secondary animation right there. The, the triangles animation appears to be driven by the squares animation. Um, now we can help this by adding a little bit of an overshoot. So let's go forward to K two frames and let's add scale, key frames on both of those. Um, and then let's just go into the curve editor and see if we can do these there. So let's go to the box and just have this key frame overshoot just a little bit, and then we'll do the same thing with the triangle.

Joey Korenman (16:59):

This is what I love about the curve editor. It's just, you can really see exactly what it's doing. Okay. So now, if I scoot this forward two frames, you could even, you could even go more here because it's so quick. There you go. All right. So now it feels like a little bit, it's almost a little bit springy. All right. Like compare, compare this where everything happens at once to this, which has a three frame delay, just a little bit more interesting to watch. Um, and then, you know, there were a couple of times, I think in my animation where I did things like this, I would have the box rotates, put a rotation, key frame, let's have it rotate. Uh, let's have it just kind of shake itself, back and forth. So it's going to go three frames back this way, and then six frames this way.

Joey Korenman (18:01):

And then we'll go, just kind of eyeballing. This are probably going to have to adjust this, but let's say we did something like this. Right. All right. So it kind of shakes itself like that. All right. I'm not going to mess with the curves. That's actually going to work fine for this. What if I just copy and paste these key frames onto the triangle? All right. So now we've got the rotations happening in sync, and then I delay this just a frame. You see what it does, and now it feels a little bit springy, like, like a, that triangles on like a loose screw or something. And if you delayed another frame, then it starts to feel really jiggly and wobbly. All right. That is secondary animation right there, folks. And, uh, it's a really easy trick. Um, all you're doing is, is kind of offsetting key frames.

Joey Korenman (18:55):

Um, but really quickly you can build up animations that feel like they have a lot of life to them. Um, and you know, I w I'm a big proponent of sound design. I think that, you know, sound is literally half of, uh, of a motion graphics piece. Sometimes the more important half frankly, and with, with animations like this, they are just ripe for sound effects because there's so many little nuances of movement that you could, you could catch and do little things with with sound. Um, so next time someone asks you to animate a logo or do something with a simple little design. You saw how fast we put this little piece together. You could very easily do something like this. Um, and you're going to find that, um, especially when you're starting out, um, this type of detailed animation work isn't really being done.

Joey Korenman (19:45):

Um, you know, especially, especially when you're talking about the low, those lower end jobs, that don't have huge budgets to put big teams of people on, but this is stuff you can do to make those projects look awesome. And look like the things you see on Motionographer. So I hope you guys learned something today about secondary animation. Thank you guys so much, and I'll see you next time. Thank you so much for watching. I hope this lesson gave you a good understanding of how to use follow-through to make your animations look a little better. If you have any questions or thoughts about this lesson, definitely let us know. And we'd love to hear from you if you use this technique on a project. So give us a shout on Twitter at school emotion and show us what you've been up to. And if you learn something valuable from this, please share it around. It really helps us spread the word about school emotion, and we totally appreciate it. Thanks again. And I'll see you next time.

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