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Animating Text in Adobe After Effects 7.0

Chapter Description

After Effects offers many ways to animate text. You can animate text layers by manually creating keyframes in the Timeline panel, by using animation presets, or by using expressions. You can even animate individual characters or words in a text layer. This lesson takes you through several different animation techniques, including some that are unique to text, while you design the opening title credits for an animated documentary called The Pond.

Using a text animation preset

Now you’re ready to animate the title. The easiest way to do that is to use one of the many animation presets that come with After Effects. After applying an animation preset, you can customize it and save it to use again in other projects.

  1. Press the Home key to make sure the current-time indicator is at the beginning of the time ruler. After Effects applies animation presets from the current time.
  2. Select the The Pond text layer.

Browsing presets

You already applied an animation preset in Chapter 2, “Creating a Basic Animation Using Effects and Presets,” and you learned to find effects and presets in the Effects & Presets panel. But what if you’re not sure which preset you want to use? To help you choose the right animation preset for your projects, you can preview them in Bridge.

  1. Choose Animation > Browse Presets. Bridge opens and displays the contents of the After Effects Presets folder.
  2. In the content area, double-click the Text folder, and then the Blurs folder.
  3. Click to select the first preset, Blur By Word. Bridge plays a sample of the animation in the Preview panel.
  4. Select a few other presets and watch them in the Preview panel.
  5. Preview the Evaporate preset and then double-click its thumbnail preview or right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) and choose Place In After Effects. After Effects applies the preset to the currently selected layer, which is the The Pond layer. Nothing appears to change in the composition. This is because at 0:00, the first frame of the animation, the letters haven’t evaporated yet.

Previewing a range of frames

Now, preview the animation. Although the composition is 10 seconds long, you only need to preview the first few seconds when the text is animated.

  1. Drag the work area end bracket from the right side of the time ruler panel to 3:00 to preview the first 3 seconds of the clip.
  2. Press 0 on the numeric keypad or click the RAM Preview button (previewbutton.gif) in the Time Controls panel to watch a RAM preview of the animation.. The letters appear to evaporate into the background. It looks great—but you want the letters to fade in and remain on-screen, not disappear into the murky depths of the pond. So you will customize the preset to suit your needs.
  3. Press the spacebar to stop the preview, and then press the Home key to make sure the current-time indicator is back at 0:00.

Customizing an animation preset

After you apply an animation preset to a layer, all of its properties and keyframes are at your fingertips in the Timeline panel.

  1. Select the The Pond text layer in the Timeline panel and choose Animation > Reveal Modified Properties, or press UU. After Effects reveals all of the properties that were modified by the Evaporate preset.
  2. Click the Offset property name to select both of its keyframes. The Offset property lets you specify how much to offset the start and end of the selection.
  3. Choose Animation > Keyframe Assistant > Time-Reverse Keyframes. This switches the order of the two Offset keyframes so that the letters are invisible at the beginning of the composition, and then emerge into view.
  4. Drag the current-time indicator from 0:00 to 3:00 to manually preview the edited animation. Much better. The letters now fade in to rather than disappear from the composition.
  5. Click the arrow in the Label column for the The Pond layer (or select the layer and press U) to hide its properties.
  6. Drag the work area end bracket to the end of the time ruler, and then choose File > Save to save your project.
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