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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 imported Photoshop text

If all text animations involved just two short words, such as the Pond, life would be easy. But in the real world, you must often work with longer blocks of text, and they can be tedious to enter manually. That’s why After Effects let’s you work with imported text from Photoshop or Illustrator. Just as with imported graphics or images, you can preserve text layers and edit and animate them in After Effects.

In the following exercise, you will import more text for this title sequence from Photoshop and continue to animate it.

Importing the credits

Some of the remaining text for this composition is in a layered Photoshop file, which you’ll import now.

  1. Double-click an empty area in the Project panel to open the Import File dialog box.
  2. Select the credits.psd file in the AE7_CIB > Lessons > Lesson03 > Assets folder. Choose Import As > Composition – Cropped Layers, and then click Open.
  3. Drag the Credits composition from the Project panel into the Timeline panel, placing it at the top of the layer stack.

    Because you imported the credits.psd file as a composition with layers intact, you can work on it in its own Timeline panel, editing and animating the various layers independently.

Editing imported text

Once you’ve imported text from Photoshop, you need to make it editable in After Effects so that you can control the type and apply animations. And if you have a sharp eye, you’ve noticed some typos in the imported text. So, first clean up the type.

  1. Double-click the Credits composition in the Project panel to open it in its own Timeline panel.
  2. Shift-click to select both of the layers in the Credits Timeline panel, and choose Layer > Convert To Editable Text. (Click OK if you get a missing-font warning.) Now the text layers can be edited, and you can fix the typos.
  3. Select layer 2 in the Timeline panel.
  4. Using the Horizontal Type tool (horizontaltype.gif), click in the Composition panel and type an e between the t and d in the word animated. Then, change the k to a c in documentary.
  5. Switch to the Selection tool (selection.jpg) to exit text-editing mode. Now, make sure the text uses the same font family as you used for the title text.
  6. Shift-click to select both layer 2 and the Your Name Here layer in the Timeline panel.
  7. Choose Window > Character to open the Character panel.
  8. Set the Font Family to the same typeface you used for the words the Pond. Leave all other settings as they are.
  9. Close the Character panel.

Animating the subtitle

You want the letters of the subtitle, “an animated documentary,” to fade on-screen from left to right under the movie title. The easiest way to do this is to use another text animation preset.

  1. Go to 5:00. You will start the animation at this time, which is when the title and lily pad have finished scaling to their final size.
  2. Select the subtitle’s layer in the Timeline panel.
  3. Press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+O (Windows) or Command+Option+Shift+O (Mac OS) to jump to Bridge.
  4. Navigate to the Presets > Text > Animate In folder.
  5. Select the Fade Up Characters preset and watch it in the Preview panel. This will work nicely.
  6. Double-click the Fade Up Characters preset to apply it to the subtitle layer in After Effects.
  7. With the an subtitle layer selected in the Credits Timeline panel, press UU to see the properties modified by the preset. You should see two keyframes for Range Selector 1: one at 5:00, and one at 7:00. You still have a lot of animation to do in this composition, so you will speed up the effect by 1 second.
  8. Go to 6:00, and then drag the second Start keyframe to 6:00, too.

    Preview this new animation quickly.

  9. Drag the current-time indicator across the time ruler between 5:00 and 6:00 to see the letters fade in.
  10. When you’re done, select the subtitle layer and press U to hide the modified properties. Then, choose File > Save to save your work.
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