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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.

Creating and formatting point type

When you enter point text, each line of text is independent—the length of a line increases or decreases as you edit the text, but it doesn’t wrap to the next line. The text you enter appears in a new text layer. The small line through the I-beam marks the position of the text baseline.

  1. In the Tools panel, select the Horizontal Type tool (horizontaltype.gif ).
  2. Click anywhere in the Composition panel and type the Pond. Then, press Enter on the numeric keypad to exit text-editing mode and to select the text layer in the Composition panel.

Now, you can format the text.

Using the Character panel

The Character panel provides options for formatting characters. If text is highlighted, changes you make in the Character panel affect only the highlighted text. If no text is highlighted, changes you make in the Character panel affect the selected text layers and the text layers’ selected Source Text keyframes, if any exist. If no text is highlighted and no text layers are selected, the changes you make in the Character panel become the new defaults for the next text entry.

  1. Choose Window > Workspace > Text to open the Character and Paragraph panels and to close the Info and Audio panels, which you don’t need right now.
  2. In the Character panel, click the arrow to the right of the font name to see a pop-up menu of available fonts.
  3. Choose Myriad Pro from the Font Family pop-up menu. If you don’t have Myriad Pro, then choose another heavy sans serif typeface, such as Verdana.
  4. Make the Font Size 72 pixels.
  5. Set the Font Style to Bold or click the Faux Bold button (fauxbold.gif) in the lower-left corner of the panel. If you can’t see the Faux Bold button, expand the Character panel by dragging its bottom edge downward.
  6. Leave all other options at their default settings.

Using the Paragraph panel

You use the Paragraph panel to set options that apply to entire paragraphs, such as the alignment, indentation, and leading. For point text, each line is a separate paragraph. You can use the Paragraph panel to set formatting options for a single paragraph, multiple paragraphs, or all paragraphs in a text layer. You just need to make one adjustment in the Paragraph panel for this composition’s title text.

  1. In the Paragraph panel, click the Center Text button (center.gif). This aligns horizontal text to the center of the layer, not to the center of the composition.

Positioning the type

To precisely position layers, such as the text layer you’re working on now, you can display rulers in the Composition panel and use guides and grids for visual reference without having them appear in the final rendered movie.

  1. Select the The Pond text layer in the Timeline panel.
  2. Choose Layer > Transform > Fit To Comp Width. This scales the layer to fit it to the width of the composition.

    Now, you can position the text layer using a grid.

  3. Choose View > Show Grid and then View > Snap to Grid.
  4. Using the Selection tool (selection.jpg), drag the text vertically in the Composition panel until the base of the letters sits on the horizontal grid line in the center of the composition. Press Shift after you start dragging to constrain the movement and help you position the text.
  5. When the layer is in position, choose View > Hide Grid to turn off visibility of the grid.

    This project isn’t destined for broadcast TV, so it’s OK that the title and the lily pad extend beyond the title-safe and action-safe areas of the composition at the beginning of the animation.

  6. Choose Window > Workspace > Standard to close the Character and Paragraph panels, which you don’t need for the next exercise, and then Choose File > Save to save your project.
5. Using a text animation preset | Next Section Previous Section