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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.

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 or go to 0:00 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 Road Trip text layer.

Browsing animation presets

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

  1. Choose Animation > Browse Presets. Adobe Bridge opens, displaying the contents of the After Effects Presets folder.
  2. In the Content panel, double-click the Text folder, and then the Blurs folder.
  3. Click to select the first preset, Blur By Word. Adobe 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. Alternatively, you can right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) the thumbnail and choose Place > In After Effects.

After Effects applies the preset to the selected layer, which is the Road Trip layer, but nothing appears to change in the composition. This is because at 0:00, the first frame of the animation, the letters haven’t yet evaporated.

Previewing a range of frames

Now, preview the animation. Although the composition is 10 seconds long, you need to preview only the first few seconds, since that is where the text animation occurs.

  1. In the Timeline panel, move the current-time indicator to 3:00, and press N to set the end bracket of the work area.

  2. Press 0 on the numeric keypad, or click the RAM Preview button (ram_preview.jpg) in the Preview 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 onscreen, not disappear. 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 move the current-time indicator back to 0:00.

Customizing an animation preset

After you apply an animation preset to a layer, all of its properties and keyframes are listed in the Timeline panel. You’ll use those properties to customize the preset.

  1. Select the Road Trip text layer in the Timeline panel, and press U.

    The U key, sometimes referred to as the Überkey, is a valuable keyboard shortcut that reveals all the animated properties of a layer.

  2. Click the Offset property name to select both of its keyframes.

    The Offset property specifies how much to offset the start and end of the selection.

  3. Choose Animation > Keyframe Assistant > Time-Reverse Keyframes.

    The Time-Reverse Keyframes command 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 animation you edited.

    The letters now fade into, rather than disappear from, the composition.

  5. Press U to hide the layer’s properties.
  6. Press the End key to move the current-time indicator to the end of the time ruler, and then press N to set the end bracket of the work area.
  7. Choose File > Save to save your project.
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