Adobe After Effects CC Classroom in a Book (2017 release) (2017)
3. Animating Text
In this lesson, you’ll learn how to do the following:
• Create and animate text layers.
• Stylize text using the Character and Paragraph panels.
• Apply and customize text animation presets.
• Preview animation presets in Adobe Bridge.
• Install fonts using Adobe Typekit.
• Animate text using keyframes.
• Animate layers using parenting.
• Edit and animate imported Adobe Photoshop text.
• Use a text animator group to animate selected characters on a layer.
This lesson will take approximately two hours to complete. Download the project files for this lesson, following the instructions in the Getting Started section under “Accessing the lesson files and Web Edition,” if you haven’t already done so. As you work on this lesson, you’ll preserve the start files. If you need to restore the start files, download them from your Account page.
PROJECT: MOVIE TITLE SEQUENCE
Your type doesn’t need to sit still while your audience is reading it. In this lesson, you’ll learn several ways to animate type in After Effects, including timesaving methods unique to text layers.
Adobe After Effects offers many ways to animate text. You can animate text layers by manually creating keyframes in the Timeline panel, using animation presets, or using expressions. You can even animate individual characters or words in a text layer. In this lesson, you’ll employ several different animation techniques, including some that are unique to text, while you design the opening title credits for an animated documentary called Road Trip. You’ll also take advantage of Adobe Typekit to install a font for use in your project.
As in other projects, you’ll begin by previewing the movie you’re creating, and then you’ll open After Effects.
1. Make sure the following files are in the Lessons/Lesson03 folder on your hard disk, or download them from your Account page at www.peachpit.com now:
• In the Assets folder: background_movie.mov, car.ai, compass.swf, credits.psd
• In the Sample_Movies folder: Lesson03.mov, Lesson03.avi
2. Open and play the Lesson03.avi sample movie in Windows Media Player or the Lesson03.mov sample movie in QuickTime Player to see what you will create in this lesson. When you are done, close Windows Media Player or QuickTime Player. You may delete the sample movies from your hard disk if you have limited storage space.
As you start the application, restore the default settings for After Effects. See “Restoring default preferences” on page 2.
3. Start After Effects, and then immediately hold down Ctrl+Alt+Shift (Windows) or Command+Option+Shift (Mac OS) to restore default preferences settings. When prompted, click OK to delete your preferences.
4. Close the Start window.
After Effects opens to display a blank, untitled project.
5. Choose File > Save As > Save As, and navigate to the Lessons/Lesson03/Finished_Project folder.
6. Name the project Lesson03_Finished.aep, and then click Save.
Importing the footage
You need to import two footage items to begin this lesson.
1. Double-click an empty area of the Project panel to open the Import File dialog box.
2. Navigate to the Lessons/Lesson03/Assets folder on your hard disk, Ctrl-click (Windows) or Command-click (Mac OS) to select both the background_movie.mov and compass.swf files, and then click Import or Open.
After Effects can import several file formats including Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator files, as well as QuickTime and AVI movies. This makes After Effects an incredibly powerful application for compositing and motion graphics work.
Creating the composition
Now, you’ll create the composition.
1. Press Ctrl+N (Windows) or Command+N (Mac OS) to create a new composition.
2. In the Composition Settings dialog box, name the composition Title_Sequence, choose NTSC DV from the Preset menu, and set the Duration to 10:00, which is the length of the background movie. Then click OK.
3. Drag the background_movie.mov and compass.swf footage items from the Project panel to the Timeline panel. Arrange the layers so that compass.swf is above background_movie.mov in the layer stack.
4. Choose File > Save.
You’re ready to add the title text to the composition.
About text layers
In After Effects, you can add text with flexibility and precision. The Tools, Character, and Paragraph panels contain a wide range of text controls. You can create and edit horizontal or vertical text directly on the screen in the Composition panel, and quickly change the font, style, size, and color of the text. You can apply changes to individual characters and set formatting options for entire paragraphs, including alignment, justification, and word-wrapping. In addition to all of these style features, After Effects provides tools for easily animating specific characters and properties, such as text opacity and hue.
After Effects uses two types of text: point text and paragraph text. Use point text to enter a single word or line of characters; use paragraph text to enter and format text as one or more paragraphs.
In many ways, text layers are just like any other layers in After Effects. You can apply effects and expressions to text layers, animate them, designate them as 3D layers, and edit the 3D text while viewing from multiple angles. As with layers imported from Illustrator, text layers are continuously rasterized, so when you scale the layer or resize the text, it retains crisp, resolution-independent edges. The two main differences between text layers and other layers are that you cannot open a text layer in its own Layer panel and you can animate the text in a text layer using special text-animator properties and selectors.
Installing a font using Typekit
Hundreds of fonts are available through Adobe Typekit, which is included with an Adobe Creative Cloud membership. You’ll use Typekit to install a font that will work well for the title text. When you install a Typekit font on your system, it’s available in any application.
1. Choose File > Add Fonts From Typekit.
After Effects opens the Adobe Typekit page in your default browser.
2. Make sure you’re signed in to Creative Cloud. If not, click Sign In at the top of the screen, and then enter your Adobe ID.
You can browse fonts on the Adobe Typekit website, but because there are so many, it’s often more efficient to filter them or to search for a specific font. You’ll filter fonts to see those that meet your requirements.
3. Make sure the My Library tab is selected so you’ll see all the fonts.
4. Choose Sort By Name from the pop-up menu in the upper right corner, and deselect Include Web Only Families. Then, on the right side of the page, click the Sans Serif button in the Classification area. In the Properties area, select the buttons for medium weight, medium width, low contrast, and standard capitalization.
Typekit displays several fonts that meet the requirements you specified. You’ll preview the fonts to see which one looks best.
5. Type Road Trip in the sample text field, and move the slider to decrease the sample text size so you can see the full title.
If you haven’t signed in to Creative Cloud, you’ll see the Full Library and Limited Library tabs instead.
Using your own text as the sample text lets you get a feel for how a font will work in your project. Calluna Sans will work nicely.
6. Hover your mouse over Calluna Sans until you see a green overlay, and then click it. (If you don’t see Calluna Sans, click Next Page until you do, or choose a different font family.)
Typekit displays sample text for all the fonts in the selected family, as well as additional information about the font.
7. Click Sync next to the Regular and Bold versions of the font.
Depending on your system and your Internet connection, it may take a few minutes for Typekit to sync your fonts.
The selected fonts are automatically added to your system and are then available in any application, including After Effects. After you’ve synced your fonts, you can close Typekit and your browser.
Creating and formatting point text
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 ().
2. Click anywhere in the Composition panel, and type Road Trip. Then press Enter on the numeric keypad to exit text-editing mode and to select the text layer in the Composition panel. Or, you can select the layer name to exit text-editing mode.
If you press Enter or Return on the regular keyboard instead of on the numeric keypad, you’ll begin a new paragraph.
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, changes you make in the Character panel become the defaults for the next text entry.
1. Choose Window > Workspace > Text to display only those panels you need while working with text.
2. Select the Road Trip text layer in the Timeline panel.
3. In the Character panel, choose Calluna Sans from the Font Family menu.
4. Choose Bold from the Font Style menu.
5. Set the Font Size to 90 pixels.
6. Leave all other options at their default settings.
To open the panels individually, choose Window > Character or Window > Paragraph. To open both panels, select the Horizontal Type tool, and then click the Toggle The Character And Paragraph Panels button in the Tools panel.
To select a font quickly, begin typing its name in the Font Family box. The Font Family menu jumps to the first font on your system that matches the letters you’ve typed. If a type layer is selected, the text in the Composition panel takes on the newly selected font.
Using the Paragraph panel
Use the Paragraph panel to set options that apply to an entire paragraph, such as 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. This aligns horizontal text to the center of the layer, not to the center of the composition.
2. Leave all other options at their default settings.
Your screen may look different, depending on where you started typing.
Positioning the type
To precisely position layers, such as the text layer you’re working on now, you can display rulers, guides, and grids in the Composition panel. These visual reference tools don’t appear in the final rendered movie.
1. Make sure the Road Trip text layer is selected in the Timeline panel.
2. Choose Layer > Transform > Fit To Comp Width. This scales the layer to fit 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 (), drag the text up in the Composition panel until the base of the letters sits on the horizontal gridline 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 > Show Grid again to hide the grid.
This project isn’t destined for broadcast TV, so it’s okay that the title extends beyond the title-safe and action-safe areas of the composition at the beginning of the animation.
6. Click Essentials in the Workspace bar at the top of the application window to return to the Essentials workspace. (Click the double arrows to see Essentials if it doesn’t fit in the Workspace bar.)
7. Choose File > Save to save your project.
Using a text animation preset
Now you’re ready to animate the title. The easiest way to do that is to use one of the many animation presets that come with After Effects. After applying an animation preset, you can customize it and save it to use again in other projects.
1. Press the Home key or go to 0:00 to make sure the current-time indicator is at the beginning of the time ruler.
After Effects applies animation presets from the current time.
2. Select the Road Trip text layer.
Browsing animation presets
You already applied an animation preset using the Effects & Presets panel in Lesson 2, “Creating a Basic Animation Using Effects and Presets.” But what if you’re not sure which animation preset you want to use? To help you choose the right animation preset for your projects, you can preview them in Adobe Bridge.
If Bridge isn’t installed, you’ll be prompted to install it when you choose Browse In Bridge. For more information, see page 2.
1. Choose Animation > Browse Presets. Adobe Bridge opens, displaying the contents of the After Effects Presets folder.
2. In the Content panel, double-click the Text folder, and then the Blurs folder.
3. Click to select the first preset, Blur By Word. Adobe Bridge plays a sample of the animation in the Preview panel.
4. Select a few other presets, and watch them in the Preview panel.
5. Preview the Evaporate preset, and then double-click its thumbnail preview. Alternatively, you can right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) the thumbnail and choose Place In Adobe After Effects CC 2017.
With some installations of Bridge, the effect may not be applied from Bridge. In that case, double-click the preset in the Effects & Presets panel to apply it.
After Effects applies the preset to the selected layer, which is the Road Trip layer, but nothing appears to change in the composition. This is because at 0:00, the first frame of the animation, the letters haven’t yet evaporated.
Leave Adobe Bridge open in the background. You’ll use it again later in the lesson.
Previewing a range of frames
Now, you’ll preview the animation. Although the composition is 10 seconds long, you need to preview only the first few seconds, since that is where the text animation occurs.
1. In the Timeline panel, move the current-time indicator to 3:00, and press N to set the end bracket of the work area.
2. Press the spacebar to watch a preview of the animation.
The letters appear to evaporate into the background. It looks great—but you want the letters to fade in and remain onscreen, not disappear. You’ll customize the preset to suit your needs.
3. Press the spacebar to stop the preview, and then press the Home key to move the current-time indicator back to 0:00.
Customizing an animation preset
After you apply an animation preset to a layer, all of its properties and keyframes are listed in the Timeline panel. You’ll use those properties to customize the preset.
1. Select the Road Trip text layer in the Timeline panel, and press U.
The U key, sometimes referred to as the Überkey, is a valuable keyboard shortcut that reveals all the animated properties of a layer.
2. Click the Offset property name to select both of its keyframes.
If you press U twice (UU), After Effects displays all modified properties for the layer, instead of only the animated properties. Press the U key again to hide all the layer’s properties.
The Offset property specifies how much to offset the start and end of the selection.
3. Choose Animation > Keyframe Assistant > Time-Reverse Keyframes.
The Time-Reverse Keyframes command switches the order of the two Offset keyframes so that the letters are invisible at the beginning of the composition, and then emerge into view.
4. Drag the current-time indicator from 0:00 to 3:00 to manually preview the animation you edited.
The letters now fade into, rather than disappear from, the composition.
5. Press U to hide the layer’s properties.
6. Press the End key to move the current-time indicator to the end of the time ruler, and then press N to set the end bracket of the work area.
7. Choose File > Save to save your project.
Animating with scale keyframes
The text layer was scaled to nearly 200% when you applied the Fit To Comp Width command to it earlier in this lesson. Now, you’ll animate the layer’s scale so that the type gradually shrinks down to its original size.
1. In the Timeline panel, move the current-time indicator to 3:00.
2. Select the Road Trip text layer, and press the S key to reveal its Scale property.
3. Click the stopwatch icon () to add a Scale keyframe at the current time (3:00).
4. Move the current-time indicator to 5:00.
5. Reduce the layer’s Scale values to 100, 100%. After Effects adds a new Scale keyframe at the current time.
Previewing the scale animation
Now you’ll preview the change.
1. Move the current-time indicator to 5:10, and press N to set the end of the work area. The scale animation ends shortly before 5:10.
2. Press the spacebar to preview the animation from 0:00 to 5:10. The movie title fades in and then scales to a smaller size.
3. Press the spacebar to stop playback after you’ve viewed the animation.
Adding Easy Ease
The beginning and end of the scale animation are rather abrupt. In nature, nothing comes to an absolute stop. Instead, objects ease into and out of starting and stopping points.
1. Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) the Scale keyframe at 3:00, and choose Keyframe Assistant > Easy Ease Out. The keyframe becomes a left-pointing icon.
2. Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) the Scale keyframe at 5:00, and choose Keyframe Assistant > Easy Ease In. The keyframe becomes a right-pointing icon.
3. Watch another preview. Press the spacebar to stop it when you’re done.
4. Choose File > Save.
Animating using parenting
The next task is to make it appear as if the virtual camera is zooming away from the composition. The text scale animation you just applied gets you halfway there, but you need to animate the scale of the compass as well. You could manually animate the compass layer, but it’s easier to take advantage of parenting relationships in After Effects.
1. Press the Home key, or drag the current-time indicator to the beginning of the time ruler.
2. In the Timeline panel, click the Parent pop-up menu for the compass layer, and choose 1. Road Trip.
This sets the Road Trip text layer as the parent of the compass layer, which in turn becomes the child layer.
As the child layer, the compass layer inherits the Scale keyframes of its parent layer (Road Trip). Not only is this a quick way to animate the compass, but it also ensures that the compass scales at the same rate and by the same amount as the text layer.
3. In the Timeline panel, move the compass layer above the Road Trip text layer.
When you move the compass layer, its parent becomes 2. Road Trip, because Road Trip is now the second layer.
4. Move the current-time indicator to 9:29, so you can clearly see the compass in the Composition panel.
5. In the Composition panel, drag the compass so that its anchor point is over the dot in the letter i in the word trip. Alternatively, you can select the compass layer in the Timeline panel, press P to reveal its Position property, and then enter 124, –62.
6. Move the current-time indicator from 3:00 to 5:00 to manually preview the scaling. Both the text and the compass scale down in size, so that it appears that the camera is moving away from the scene.
7. Press the Home key to return to 0:00, and drag the work area end bracket to the end of the time ruler.
8. Select the Road Trip layer in the Timeline panel, and press S to hide its Scale property. If you entered Position values for the compass, select the compass layer, and press P to hide the Position property, too. Then choose File > Save.
About parent and child layers
Parenting assigns one layer’s transformations to another layer, called a child layer. Creating a parenting relationship between layers synchronizes the changes in the parent layer with the corresponding transformation values of the child layers, except opacity. For example, if a parent layer moves 5 pixels to the right of its starting position, then the child layer also moves 5 pixels to the right of its starting position. A layer can have only one parent, but a layer can be a parent to any number of 2D or 3D layers within the same composition. Parenting layers is useful for creating complex animations, such as linking the movements of a marionette or depicting the orbits of planets in the solar system.
For more on parent and child layers, see After Effects Help.
Animating imported Photoshop text
If all text animations involved just two short words, such as road trip, life would be easy. But in the real world, you may often have to work with longer blocks of text, and they can be tedious to enter manually. Fortunately, you can import text from Photoshop or Illustrator. You can preserve text layers, edit them, and animate them in After Effects.
Some of the remaining text for this composition is in a layered Photoshop file, which you’ll import now.
1. Click the Project tab to bring the Project panel forward, and then double-click an empty area in the Project panel to open the Import File dialog box.
2. Select the credits.psd file in the Lessons/Lesson03/Assets folder. Choose Composition – Retain Layer Sizes from the Import As menu. (In Mac OS, you may need to click Options to see the Import As menu.) Then click Import or Open.
3. In the Credits.psd dialog box, select Editable Layer Styles, and click OK.
After Effects can import Photoshop layer styles, retaining the appearance of the layers you’re importing. The imported file is added as a composition to the Project panel; its layers are added in a separate folder.
4. 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 its layers independently.
Editing imported text
The text you imported isn’t currently editable in After Effects. You’ll change that 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 you’ll 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 layers in the credits Timeline panel, and choose Layer > Convert To Editable Text. (Click OK if you see a warning about missing fonts.)
Now the text layers can be edited, and you can fix the typos.
3. Deselect both layers, and then double-click layer 2 in the Timeline panel to select the text and automatically switch to the Horizontal Type tool ().
4. 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 () to exit text-editing mode.
6. Shift-click to select both layers in the Timeline panel.
7. If the Character panel isn’t open, choose Window > Character to open it.
The layer name does not change in the Timeline panel when you correct the spelling in the layer. This is because the original layer name was created in Photoshop. To change a layer’s name, select it in the Timeline panel, press Enter or Return, type the new name, and press Enter or Return again.
8. Choose the same typeface you used for the words Road Trip: Calluna Sans. Leave all other settings as they are.
9. Click an empty area of the Timeline panel to deselect both layers. Then select layer 2 again.
10. In the Character panel, click the Fill Color box. Then, in the Text Color dialog box, select a shade of green, and click OK. We used R=66, G=82, B=42.
Animating the subtitle
You want the letters of the subtitle—an animated documentary—to fade onscreen 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 in the timeline. At that point, the title and the compass have finished scaling to their final size.
2. Select the subtitle layer (layer 2) in the Timeline panel.
3. Press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+O (Windows) or Command+Option+Shift+O (Mac OS) to jump to Adobe Bridge.
4. Navigate to the Presets/Text/Animate In folder.
5. Select the Fade Up Characters animation preset, and watch it in the Preview panel. This effect works well to reveal the text gradually.
6. Double-click the Fade Up Characters preset to apply it to the subtitle layer in After Effects.
With some installations of Bridge, the effect may not be applied from Bridge. In that case, double-click the preset in the Effects & Presets panel to apply it.
7. With the subtitle layer selected in the Timeline panel, press UU to see the properties modified by the animation preset. You should see two keyframes for Range Selector 1 Start: 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 Range Selector 1 Start keyframe to 6:00.
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.
Animating type tracking
Next, you’ll animate the appearance of the director’s name in the composition using a text animation tracking preset. By animating tracking, you can make words seem to expand outward as they appear onscreen 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.
It doesn’t matter where the current-time indicator is located when you edit the text of this layer. Currently, the text is onscreen for the duration of the composition. That will change once you animate it.
1. Still working in the credits timeline in the Timeline panel, select the Your Name Here layer.
2. Select the Horizontal Type tool (), and then 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. Click the layer name when you’re done. The layer name doesn’t change, because it was named in Photoshop.
Applying a tracking preset
Now you will animate the director’s name with a tracking preset so that it starts to appear onscreen shortly after the words an animated documentary are fully visible in the composition.
1. Go to 7:10.
2. Select the Your Name Here layer in the Timeline panel.
3. Typee Increase Tracking in the search box of the Effects & Presets panel. Then double-click the preset to apply it to the Your Name Here layer.
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 animation preset
The text expands, but you want the letters to be so close initially that they’re on top of each other, and then to expand to a reasonable, readable distance apart. The animation should also occur more quickly. You’ll adjust the Tracking Amount to achieve both goals.
1. Select the Your Name Here layer in the Timeline panel, and press UU to reveal the properties that were modified.
2. Go to 7:10.
3. Under Animator 1, change the Tracking Amount to –5 so that the letters are squeezed together.
4. Click the Go To Next Keyframe arrow () for the Tracking Amount property, and then change the value to 0.
5. Drag the current-time indicator across the time ruler between 7:10 and 8:10. The letters expand as they appear onscreen, and stop animating at the last keyframe.
Animating text opacity
You’ll take the animation of the director’s name a little further by having it fade onscreen as the letters expand. To do this, you’ll animate the layer’s Opacity property.
1. Make sure the Your Name Here layer is selected in the credits timeline.
2. Press T to reveal only the layer’s Opacity property.
3. Go to 7:10, and set the Opacity to 0%. Then click the stopwatch icon () to set an Opacity keyframe.
4. Go to 7:20, and set the Opacity to 100%. After Effects adds a second keyframe.
Now the letters of the director’s name will fade in as they expand onscreen.
5. Drag the current-time indicator across the time ruler between 7:10 and 8:10 to see the letters of the director’s name fade in as they spread out.
6. Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) the ending Opacity keyframe, and choose Keyframe Assistant > Easy Ease In.
7. Choose File > Save.
Using a text animator group
Text animator groups let you animate individual letters within a block of text in a layer. You’ll use a text animator group to animate only the characters in your middle name without affecting the tracking and opacity animation of the other names in the layer.
1. In the Timeline panel, go to 8:10.
2. Hide the Opacity property for the Your Name Here layer. Then expand the layer to see its 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.
4. Select Animator 2, press Enter or Return, 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 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 () is just before the first letter of your middle name (the B in Bender, in this example).
7. Drag the Skew Animator’s Range Selector 1 End value down (to the left) until its indicator () is just after the last letter of your middle name (the r in Bender, in this example) in the Composition panel.
Now, any properties that you animate with the Skew Animator will affect only the middle name that you selected.
About text animator groups
A text animator group includes one or more selectors and one or more animator properties. A selector is like a mask—it specifies which characters or section of a text layer you want an animator property to affect. Using a selector, you can define a percentage of the text, specific characters in the text, or a specific range of text.
Using a combination of animator properties and selectors, you can create complex text animations that would otherwise require painstaking keyframing. Most text animations require you to animate only the selector values—not the property values. Consequently, text animators use a small number of keyframes even for complex animations.
For more about text animator groups, see After Effects Help.
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 sways. The other names in the line of text remain steady.
2. Set the Skew Animator’s Skew value to 0.
3. Go to 8:05, and click the stopwatch icon () for Skew to add a keyframe to the property.
4. Go to 8:08, and set the Skew value to 50. After Effects adds a keyframe.
5. Go to 8:15, and change the Skew value to –50. After Effects adds another keyframe.
6. Go to 8:20, and change the Skew value to 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 to add an Easy Ease to all keyframes.
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 onscreen, and the middle name rocks side to side while the other names are unaffected.
9. Hide the properties for the Your Name Here layer in the Timeline panel.
10. Select the Title_Sequence tab to open its timeline.
11. Press Home, or go to 0:00, and then preview the entire composition.
12. Press the spacebar to stop playback, and then choose File > Save to save your work.
To quickly remove all text animators from a text layer, select the layer in the Timeline panel, and choose Animation > Remove All Text Animators. To remove only one animator, select its name in the Timeline panel, and press Delete.
Animating a layer’s position
You’ve used several text animation presets to dazzle your audience. But for a simpler effect, you can animate the Transform properties for a text layer, just as you can any other layer.
Currently, your name appears onscreen, but there’s no context for it. You’ll add the words “directed by,” animating them so that they move into position as your name is appearing onscreen.
1. In the Title_Sequence Timeline panel, go to 9:29, the end of the project.
At this point, all the other text is onscreen, so you can position the “directed by” line accurately.
2. Select the Horizontal Type tool.
3. Make sure no layers are selected, and then click in the Composition panel. Make sure you’re clicking in an area that doesn’t overlap an existing text layer.
To make sure no layers are deselected, click an empty area in the Timeline panel, press F2, or choose Edit > Deselect All.
4. Type directed by.
5. Select the directed by layer. Then, in the Character panel, choose Minion Pro from the Font Family menu.
6. Choose Regular for the Font Style, and set the Font Size to 20 pixels.
7. In the Character panel, click the Fill Color box. Then, in the Text Color dialog box, select white, and click OK. Leave all other options at their default settings.
8. Select the Selection tool, and then drag the directed by layer so that the text is centered over your name.
9. Press P to display the layer’s Position property. Click the stopwatch icon to create an initial keyframe for the layer.
10. Go to 7:00, the point where “documentary” has just finished appearing and your name hasn’t yet started to appear.
11. Drag the directed by layer off the left edge of the Composition window. Press the Shift key as you drag to create a straight path.
12. Preview the animation, and then hide the Position property.
It’s simple, but effective. The text moves in from the left side and stops in its final position above your name. To make the text’s entrance a little more interesting, you’ll add a car graphic that will appear to be dragging the text onscreen.
Timing layer animations
You’ll animate a simple car graphic so that the text appears to trail behind the car onscreen. The words should follow the car and come to rest above your name, while the car continues to fly off screen. The timing will require some adjustment, in order to keep the text and the car in sync.
First, you’ll import the car graphic and add it to your composition.
1. Double-click an empty area in the Project panel to open the Import File dialog box.
2. In the Lessons/Lesson03/Assets folder, select the car.ai file, choose Composition – Retain Layer Sizes from the Import As menu, and then click Import or Open.
3. Drag the car composition from the Project panel to the top of the layer stack in the Title_Sequence Timeline panel.
4. Go to 6:25, just before the directed by text begins moving.
5. Select the car layer, and press P to reveal its Position property.
6. Drag the car off the left of the Composition window, so that it overlaps the directed by text.
7. Click the stopwatch icon for the layer’s Position property to create an initial keyframe.
8. Go to 9:29, the end of the composition.
9. Drag the car off the right side of the Composition window. The car shouldn’t be visible on the screen. Hold down the Shift key as you drag to create a straight path.
10. Manually preview the animation from 6:25 to 9:29.
The text trails the car, but the car picks up speed too quickly so it’s not obvious that it’s dragging the text. You’ll need to make an adjustment to its timing to slow the car down until the text is in place.
11. Go to 8:29.
12. Move the car immediately to the right of the text.
13. Preview the animation again.
The timing is better, but now the car overlaps the text at the beginning. One more adjustment should do the trick.
14. Go to 7:19.
15. Pull the car forward, just ahead of the text.
16. Preview the animation again.
Now the car is clearly pulling the text, and it speeds up to roll off the screen before the composition finishes. If you’d like to more precisely control the animation, you can add more keyframes.
17. Hide the properties for all layers, and then choose File > Save to save your work.
Adding motion blur
Motion blur is the blur that occurs as an object moves. You’ll apply motion blur to finesse the composition and make the movement look more natural.
1. In the Timeline panel, click the Motion Blur switch () for each layer except the background_movie and credits layers.
Now you’ll apply motion blur to the layers in the credits composition.
2. Switch to the credits Timeline panel, and enable motion blur for both layers.
3. Switch back to the Title_Sequence Timeline panel, and select the Motion Blur switch for the credits layer. Then click the Enable Motion Blur button () at the top of the Timeline panel so that you can see the motion blur in the Composition panel.
4. Preview the entire, completed animation.
5. Choose File > Save.
Give yourself a pat on the back. You just completed some hard-core text animations. If you’d like to export the composition as a movie file, see Lesson 14, “Rendering and Outputting,” for instructions.
1. What are some similarities and differences between text layers and other types of layers in After Effects?
2. How can you preview a text animation preset?
3. How can you assign one layer’s transformations to another layer?
4. What are text animator groups?
1. In many ways, a text layer is just like any other layer in After Effects. You can apply effects and expressions to text layers, animate them, designate them as 3D layers, and edit the 3D text while viewing it in multiple views. However, text layers are like shape layers in that you can’t open them in their own Layer panels, and in that they are synthetic layers that consist entirely of vector graphics. You can animate the text in a text layer using special text animator properties and selectors.
2. You can preview text animation presets in Adobe Bridge by choosing Animation > Browse Presets. Adobe Bridge opens and displays the contents of the After Effects Presets folder. Navigate to folders containing categories of text animation presets, such as Blurs or Paths, and watch samples in the Preview panel.
3. You can use parenting relationships in After Effects to assign one layer’s transformations to another layer (except opacity transformations). When a layer is made a parent to another layer, the other layer is called the child layer. Creating a parenting relationship between layers synchronizes the changes in the parent layer with corresponding transformation values of the child layers.
4. Text animator groups enable you to animate the properties of individual characters in a text layer over time. Text animator groups contain one or more selectors, which are like masks: They let you specify which characters or section of a text layer you want an animator property to affect. Using a selector, you can define a percentage of the text, specific characters in the text, or a specific range of text.