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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 type tracking

Next, you’ll animate the appearance of the director’s name in the composition. This time, you’ll use a text animation tracking preset. By animating tracking you can make words appear to expand outward as they appear on-screen from a central point.

Customizing placeholder text

Currently, the director’s name is simply a layer with placeholder text—Your Name Here. Before you animate it, change it to your own name.

  1. Switch to the credits Timeline panel and select the Your Name Here layer.
  2. Using the Horizontal Type tool (horizontaltype.gif), replace Your Name Here in the Composition panel with your own name. Use a first, middle, and last name so that you have a nice long string of text to animate. Press Enter on the numeric keypad when you’re done.

Applying a tracking preset

Now you will animate the director’s name with a tracking preset so that it starts to appear on-screen shortly after the words directed by reach the center of the composition.

  1. Go to 7:10.
  2. Select the Your Name Here layer in the Timeline panel.
  3. Jump to Bridge and go to the Presets > Text > Tracking folder. Locate the Increase Tracking preset and double-click it to apply it to the Your Name Here layer in After Effects.
  4. Drag the current-time indicator across the time ruler between 7:10 and 9:10 to manually preview the tracking animation.

Customizing the tracking preset

The text expands on-screen, but you need the letters to initially be so close they’re that they’re on top of each other, and then expand to a reasonable, readable distance apart. You also want it the animation to occur faster. You can adjust the Tracking Amount to fix both of these problems.

  1. Select the Your Name Here layer in the Timeline panel and press UU to reveal the properties that were modified by the preset.
  2. Go to 7:10.
  3. Under Animator 1, change the Tracking Amount to –5 so that the letters are squeezed together.
  4. Click to select the Tracking Amount keyframe at 9:10, and then delete it. This leaves a second (final) Tracking Amount keyframe at 8:10, set to 0.
  5. Drag the current-time indicator across the time ruler between 7:10 and 9:10. The letters expand as they appear on-screen and stop animating at 8:10.
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