Great new scripts for After Effects are coming out all the time. Some have very broad purposes and some more niche.
The bq_HeadRig script by Barbeque Dad Productions is a niche AE script that may be quite useful for animators working with 2D characters.
While techniques have been developed for this type of 2D head tracking, what bq_HeadRig does is to streamline the process and make it easier to set up a rig in a few clicks.
Let’s take a look at some more details of bq_HeadRig.
Just like with AE scripts in general, you’ll want to download the file, then move it into the ScriptUI Panels folder inside the Scripts folder for the version of After Effects you’ll be using.
How It Works
Start by building your head layers inside of an AE comp. You can create layers for each head feature, eyes, nose, etc.
Open the bq_HeadRig script panel and select Create Head Null. Then select your head layers and select Parent To Head Null. This will set up the basic rig.
Next, you’ll want to set up the head movement from left to right and from top to bottom. You’ll do this by animating some keyframes. 20 frames should do it.
Set a keyframe in the middle with the head in the center point. Set the first keyframe for the left-facing head position and the last keyframe to the right-facing head position. Select the keyframes and hit the Set Left/Right KF’s button. Do the same for up and down, and now your head movements will be tracked to a couple of sliders in the panel. Pretty straightforward.
Lastly, from here you can create a control rig for facial positions so that you can animate by simply nudging the rig inside of the comp window.
That’s the basic gist of setting up easy head rigs for 2D layered heads. But bq_HeadRig has a couple of other handy features. For instance, you can copy a head rig from one head onto another, so they have similar animation properties. Or you can take a head that you’ve already rigged up and replace it with another head with a single click.
This makes it easier to load up rigs for several heads without having to keep starting the process over.
There are other small features that make it easier for you to do specific tasks like selected parents and children within you rig.
All in all, bq_HeadRig is a fairly simple script that can save lots of time for head animation. It UI is well organized. It’s simple to use and fairly intuitive.
If you find yourself animating heads very often, or even more than once, it might be worth picking up this script at $29.99.
The developers say it’s compatible with After Effects CC through CC 2015, so maybe it’s time for you to get a new version of AE buddy.
You can always try the demo version before purchase here. And here’s a more detailed video showing how bq_HeadRig works.