After Effects Project: The Trailer, Part 2

Taught by Danny Princz

Course Number:
Software Version:
Original Run Date:
July 2012 
7 hours 54 minutes 
This course continues the work on our fictional trailer "Chutes and Ladders," a creative concept that has a bit of a laugh with some of Hollywood's current offerings. For this course, the profs and members will be creating effects, character animation, and doing the final grade on our :30 trailer promoting the fictional movie. As a stark contrast to giant killer robots -- or battleships -- New York City is "invaded" by giant smiling cardboard cutout characters who build ladders between buildings and run slides to the street.

Leading the course as co-director is Danny Princz, a NYC-based After Effects artist. Joining him are Michelle Higa and Chris West. Danny Princz ( is a freelance VFX/Mograph Artist based in NYC. He also directs and VFX supervises many of his projects. Danny was literally “born into the business” and was creating motion graphics for television by the time he was 7 years old. He has over 20 years of firsthand, inside experience in the commercial and broadcast post production industry.

Michelle Higa started her career in the animation trio Mixtape Club. The team won an ADC Young Guns award, a “Best Music Video” award at SXSW, and appearances on “Best of the Year” lists for MTV2 and She also serves as the assistant editor at Motionographer.

Chris West's ( projects have ranged from EA games, Nike, Sprint, Blackberry, Droid and for many other notable companies. Chris is currently a freelance compositor with some additional skills to boot. He's done work for Psyop, Shilo, Stardust, Mass Market, Buck, Transistor and several other great studios.
After Effects Project: The Trailer, Part 2
Watch our overview of the course

Class Listing

Class 1: Overview and project setup

Organization is key to any project. We start with a brief overview and project setup then dive in to creating our UFO and game spinner Shots. Using the tools in After Effects CS6 we build the UFO and find simple and creative ways to add detail and scale

Class 2: Character Animation, Part 1

With the technical foundation of the animation rig laid in AFX218, Michelle Higa will be concentrating on the performance of the characters. Built using only After Effects default plug-ins and some handy expressions, this rig will allow for greater performance of the characters, allowing members to focusing on the details and bringing out the subtleties that bring the characters to life.

Class 3: Character Animation, Part 2

We create a full body inverse kinematics (IK) rig for the ladder climbers. Additionally, we will import the head rig from Class 02 and go over how to update the expressions when dealing with importing rigs.

Class 4: Character Animation, Part 3

The IK and head rigs created earlier finally gets put to work climbing our ladders. We create two ladder climbers and go over a couple background characters as well.

Class 5: Empire State Building

Chris West takes over, building the penultimate scene of the helicopter shot of the Empire State Building.

Class 6: Empire State Building scene continued

Including integrating the title graphics designed by Lloyd Alvarez.

Class 7: Compositing

Danny Princz integrates the character animation.

Class 8: Sky replacement

Mark Christiansen prepares a sky replacement plate for an homage to the iconic Independence Day saucer shot.

Class 9: Sky replacement continued

Mark Christiansen continues with simulating a cloud tank.

Class 10: Finishing in AE

Using the rough cut and shots covered in previous classes with different scripts and workflows to speed up the process. Setting up the shots using built in and 3rd party effects to achieve different looks.