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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.

Animating text using a path preset

By now you should be understanding how versatile and convenient preset text animators can be. You’ll use another type of text animation preset next to animate the words directed by along a motion path. After Effects includes several animation presets that animate text along a prebuilt path. These presets also provide placeholder text with formatting when you apply them, so in this exercise, you will enter and format your text after you apply the preset.

  1. Switch to the Pond_Title_Sequence Timeline panel.
  2. Deselect all layers, and then go to 5:00.
  3. Press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+O (Windows) or Command+Option+Shift+O (Mac OS) to jump to Bridge.
  4. Navigate to the Presets > Text > Paths folder.
  5. Double-click the Pipes preset. Bridge returns you to After Effects, where the preset automatically creates a new layer, Pipes, with a predefined path that zigzags across the composition. The text on the path is obscured by the movie title. Don’t worry. You’ll fix that in a minute.

Customizing the preset path

Now, you need to change the placeholder word pipes to directed by.

  1. In After Effects, go to 6:05, when the word pipes is visible—and horizontal—on-screen.
  2. Double-click the Pipes layer in the Timeline panel. After Effects switches to the Horizontal Type tool (horizontaltype.gif) and selects the word pipes in the Composition panel. Type directed by to replace it. Press Enter on the numeric keypad when you’re done. After Effects updates the Timeline panel with the new layer name.

    Now, format the text.

  3. Open the Character panel, and do the following:
    • Set the Font Family to Minion Pro or other serif typeface.
    • Set the Font Style to Regular.
    • Set the Font Size to 20 pixels.
    • Leave all other settings at their defaults.

    There, that’s better.

  4. Close the Character panel.

    Preview the path animation quickly.

  5. Drag the current-time indicator across the time ruler between 5:00 and 8:00 to see how the words directed by move on-screen—and then off-screen. You’ll fix the text so that it stays on-screen, but now is a good time to adjust the position of the path in the composition so that it doesn’t interfere with the movie title.
  6. Using the Selection tool (selection.jpg), double-click the yellow motion path in the Composition panel to select it.
  7. Drag the path down until the words the Pond are centered in the top curve and the lily pad is centered in the lower curve.
  8. Press Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac OS) to accept the change.

    You will be working with this animated path again later in the lesson, attaching a dragonfly graphic to it so it appears to be pulling the text on-screen. But first, finish animating the credits.

  9. Select the Directed By layer in the Timeline panel and hide its properties. Then, choose File > Save to save your work.
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