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Animating Text in Adobe After Effects 7.0

  • Sample Chapter is provided courtesy of Peachpit Press.
  • Date: May 4, 2006.

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 animator group

Next, you will animate part of the director’s name—the middle name. To do that, you’ll use a text animator group. Text animator groups let you animate individual letters within a block of text in a layer. Creating a text animator group will allow you to animate only the characters in your middle name without affecting the tracking and opacity animation of the other names in the layer.

  1. Go to 8:10.
  2. Click the triangle in the Label column of the Timeline panel to hide the Opacity property for the Your Name Here layer. Then, click the triangle again to see the layer’s Text property group name.
  3. Next to the Text property name, click the Animate pop-up menu and choose Skew. A property group named Animator 2 appears in the layer’s Text properties.

    Before continuing, rename this generic animator to something more intuitive.

  4. Select Animator 2, press Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac OS), and rename it Skew Animator. Then, press Enter or Return again to accept the new name.

    Now, you’re ready to define the range of letters that you want to skew.

  5. Expand the Skew Animator’s Range Selector 1 properties. Each animator group includes a default range selector. Range selectors let you constrain the animation to particular letters in the text layer. You can add additional selectors to an animator group, or apply multiple animator properties to the same range selector.
  6. While watching the Composition panel, drag the Skew Animator’s Range Selector 1 Start value up (to the right) until the left selector indicator (indicator.gif) is just before the first letter of your middle name (the letter B in Bender, in our example).
  7. Drag the Skew Animator’s Range Selector 1 End value down (to the left) until its indicator (indicator1.gif) is just after the last letter of your middle name (the r in Bender, in our example) in the Composition panel.

    Now, any properties that you animate with the Skew Animator will only affect the middle name that you selected (Bender, in our example).

Skewing the range of text

Now, make that middle name shake and shimmy by setting Skew keyframes.

  1. Drag the Skew Animator’s Skew value left and right, and notice that only the middle name (Bender, in our example) sways. The other names in the line of text remain steady.
  2. Set the Skew Animator’s Skew value to 0.0.
  3. Go to 8:05 and click the stopwatch icon (stopwatch.gif) for Skew to add a keyframe to the property.
  4. Go to 8:08 and set the Skew value to 50.0. After Effects adds a keyframe.
  5. Go to 8:15 and change the Skew value to –50.0. After Effects adds another keyframe.
  6. Go to 8:20 and change the Skew value to 0.0 to set the final keyframe.
  7. Click the Skew property name to select all of the Skew keyframes. Then, choose Animation > Keyframe Assistant > Easy Ease. This adds an Easy Ease to all keyframes. That’s it. Now, preview your work.
  8. Drag the current-time indicator across the time ruler from 7:10 to 8:20 to see how the director’s name fades in and expands on-screen, and the middle name rocks side to side while the other names are unaffected.
  9. Select the Your Name Here layer in the Timeline panel and press UU to hide its properties.

Preview the entire composition

Now is a good time to preview the entire composition so far.

  1. Switch to the Pond_Title_Sequence Timeline panel.
  2. Press Home to go to the beginning of the time ruler.
  3. Press 0 on the numeric keypad to watch a RAM preview.
  4. Press the spacebar when you’re done to stop playback.
  5. Choose File > Save to save your work.
13. Cleaning up the path animation | Next Section Previous Section

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