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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.

Getting started

Make sure the following files are in the AE7_CIB > Lessons > Lesson03 folder on your hard disk, or copy them from the Adobe After Effects 7.0 Classroom in a Book DVD now:

  • In the Assets folder: credits.psd, dragonfly.ai, Lilypad.mov, pondbackground.mov
  • In the Sample_Movie folder: Lesson03.mov
  1. Open and play the Lesson03.mov sample movie to see what you will create in this lesson. When you are done, quit the QuickTime player. You may delete this sample movie from your hard disk if you have limited storage space.

Setting up the project

When you begin this lesson, restore the default application settings for After Effects. See “Restoring default preferences”.

  1. Press Ctrl+Alt+Shift (Windows) or Command+Option+Shift (Mac OS) while starting After Effects. When asked whether you want to delete your preferences file, click OK.

    After Effects opens to display a blank, untitled project.

  2. Choose File > Save As or press Ctrl+Shift+S (Windows) or Command+Shift+S (Mac OS).
  3. In the Save Project As dialog box, navigate to the AE7_CIB > Lessons > Lesson03 > Finished_Project folder.
  4. Name the project Lesson03_Finished.aep, and then click Save.

Importing the footage

You need to import two footage items to begin this exercise.

  1. Double-click an empty area of the Project panel to open the Import File dialog box.
  2. Navigate to the AE7_CIB > Lessons > Lesson03 > Assets folder on your hard disk, Ctrl-click (Windows) or Command-click (Mac OS) to select the Lilypad.mov and pondbackground.mov files, and then click Open.

Creating the composition

Now, you’ll create the composition.

  1. Press Ctrl+N or Command+N to open the New Composition dialog box.
  2. In the Composition Settings dialog box, name the composition Pond_Title_Sequence, make sure the NTSC DV preset is selected, and set duration to 10:00, which is the length of the pond background movie.
  3. Click OK.
  4. Drag the Pondbackground.mov and Lilypad.mov files from the Project panel to the Timeline panel, making sure that Lilypad is above Pondbackground in the layer stack.

    Now, position the Lilypad layer in the composition.

  5. With the Lilypad layer selected in the Timeline panel, press the P key reveals its Position property.
  6. Change the Position values to 170.0, 480.0 to move the lily pad to the lower-left corner of the composition.
  7. Select the Lilypad layer again and press U to hide its Position property, and then choose File > Save.

    Now you’re ready to add the title text to the composition.

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