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Animating Text in Adobe After Effects CC (2014 release)

Chapter Description

Adobe After Effects offers many ways to animate text. You can animate text layers by manually creating keyframes in the Timeline panel, using animation presets, or using expressions. You can even animate individual characters or words in a text layer. In this lesson from Adobe After Effects CC Classroom in a Book (2014 release), you’ll employ several different animation techniques, including some that are unique to text, while you design the opening title credits for an animated documentary called Road Trip. You’ll also take advantage of Adobe Typekit to install a font for use in your project.

Creating and formatting point text

When you enter point text, each line of text is independent—the length of a line increases or decreases as you edit the text, but it doesn’t wrap to the next line. The text you enter appears in a new text layer. The small line through the I-beam marks the position of the text baseline.

  1. In the Tools panel, select the Horizontal Type tool (type.jpg).

  2. Click anywhere in the Composition panel, and type Road Trip. Then press Enter on the numeric keypad to exit text-editing mode and to select the text layer in the Composition panel. Or, you can select the layer name to exit text-editing mode.

Using the Character panel

The Character panel provides options for formatting characters. If text is highlighted, changes you make in the Character panel affect only the highlighted text. If no text is highlighted, changes you make in the Character panel affect the selected text layers and the text layers’ selected Source Text keyframes, if any exist. If no text is highlighted and no text layers are selected, changes you make in the Character panel become the new defaults for the next text entry.

  1. Choose Window > Workspace > Text to display only those panels you need while working with text.

  2. Select the Road Trip text layer in the Timeline panel.
  3. In the Character panel, choose Calluna Sans from the Font Family menu.

  4. Choose Bold from the Font Style menu.
  5. Set the Font Size to 90 pixels.
  6. Leave all other options at their default settings.

Using the Paragraph panel

Use the Paragraph panel to set options that apply to an entire paragraph, such as alignment, indentation, and leading. For point text, each line is a separate paragraph. You can use the Paragraph panel to set formatting options for a single paragraph, multiple paragraphs, or all paragraphs in a text layer. You just need to make one adjustment in the Paragraph panel for this composition’s title text.

  1. In the Paragraph panel, click the Center Text button (center_text.jpg). This aligns horizontal text to the center of the layer, not to the center of the composition.

  2. Leave all other options at their default settings.

Positioning the type

To precisely position layers, such as the text layer you’re working on now, you can display rulers, guides, and grids in the Composition panel. These visual reference tools don’t appear in the final rendered movie.

  1. Make sure the Road Trip text layer is selected in the Timeline panel.
  2. Choose Layer > Transform > Fit To Comp Width. This scales the layer to fit to the width of the composition.

    Now you can position the text layer using a grid.

  3. Choose View > Show Grid and then View > Snap To Grid.
  4. Using the Selection tool (selection.jpg), drag the text up in the Composition panel until the base of the letters sits on the horizontal gridline in the center of the composition. Press Shift after you start dragging to constrain the movement and help you position the text.

  5. When the layer is in position, choose View > Show Grid again to hide the grid.

    This project isn’t destined for broadcast TV, so it’s okay that the title extends beyond the title-safe and action-safe areas of the composition at the beginning of the animation.

  6. Choose Standard from the Workspace menu at the top of the application window to return to the Standard workspace, and then choose File > Save to save your project.
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