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After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics with Ian Robinson covers some of the core principles used to create motion graphics, breaking them down into smaller groups of applied techniques in After Effects. The course explores everything from gathering inspiration to integrating traditional typography, transitional elements, animated textures, color, and more into motion graphics. Instructions for building a toolkit with templates and a style guide for future projects are also included. Exercise files accompany the course.
Animating paragraph type is very much like animating point type. The power of paragraph type lies with the paragraph type layout tools, like Every-line Composer or Roman Hanging Punctuation. Now if you don't know what either of those terms mean, don't worry about it; we're definitely going to cover that in this video. But we're also going to cover some basic techniques that I like to use to manipulate large blocks of type. So to see what's going on in the project, let's go ahead and load up a RAM preview.
And as you can, see about every couple of seconds the background changes. So let's select layer 2 and press U to open up all the keyframes on the layer. As you can see, we just have some position keyframes that are set to hold, and that creates this kind of interesting paper animation. Now this crinkled-up paper was pretty easy to create because all I did was used my digital camera and imported the photograph into After Effects. Now since Paper1 is all set up, let's go ahead and just lock that off, and what we want to do is manipulate the text layer.
If your interface doesn't look like this right now, I want you to go up to the Workspace and make sure that Text is selected. Then you should be able to see the Character panel and the Paragraph panel on the right-hand side. So, first things first. Let's divide up this paragraph into two separate sections. I just want to give it a little bit more visual interest. Press Command+T to grab your Type tool and click right at the end of the sentence where it says "morning." Now to make sure there's no space, go ahead and keep deleting until you see a character disappear.
I'll make sure that period reappears. And now we can press Return. Whenever you add a return in paragraph type, it's telling the software that you want a new paragraph. I can't really see that many visual cues letting me know that this is a paragraph. So what I'm going to do is just grab my Selection tool, making sure my Type layer is selected, I'm going to look at some of the options in the Paragraph panel. First thing, I want to adjust the space between the paragraphs, and you can do that by clicking and dragging on this parameter right here.
So we'll just add a little bit of space. Let's drag it out to around 20. Now if we open up our text layer, under the Text options, notice Source Text has been highlighted. What this is telling me is that anytime I change any of these parameters, it's going to allow me to add a keyframe under Source Text. Now it is interesting. Source Text will keyframe all of these individual parameters as one keyframe. So if I keyframe Source Text right now and move my playhead a little further down the Timeline and the adjust another parameter like the one to the right here, this Indent parameter, now notice as I drag that to the right, I have got a second keyframe.
So if we move my playhead back to the beginning and scrub through, you notice I have the line kind of bouncing back and forth. We could sit here and keep tweaking till the cows come home, but I want to cover a few more things in the Paragraph panel, and then we'll actually get to animating the appearance of the type and flying things around the screen. So move your playhead down the Timeline to around two seconds, and let's open up the flyout options in the Paragraph panel. First thing I want you to look at is this Adobe Single-line Composer versus Every-line Composer.
Click on Every-line Composer, and as you can see, not much changed in the scene. But what I want to tell you is the Single-line Composer and the Every-line Composer analyzes the paragraph slightly differently, and basically when you choose Every-line Composer, it's a little more processor-intensive because the software is analyzing character by character and trying to help decide exactly how the text is to wrap through the specific bounding box. So a lot of times, if I'm not getting a layout I like, I'll go in and adjust this composer first.
Now another thing I want you to pay attention to is this Roman Hanging Punctuation. Now to really see Roman Hanging Punctuation, I am going to select all my keyframes and drag them way over to the right, just so my text is the way it was originally, left justified. Now if we go in and select Roman Hanging Punctuation, look at the quotes in front of the first line. Notice they jumped to the outside here.
If I zoom in on the canvas--I'm just using my scroll wheel and I pan over pressing the Spacebar to grab my Hand tool-- you'll notice the quotes are now outside of the bounding box. That's a really nice option, especially when you're doing animation of quotes, because then you can lay out the type very specifically and just really have the quotes frame the type, as opposed to being an integral part of the layout. If you go through and make all these adjustments and really don't like what's going on, you can always click on the flyout menu and choose Reset Paragraph.
But I sort of like what's going on in the scene, so I'm going to leave this alone. Now it's time to actually animate the appearance of this type, so before we do that, I am just going to move this one keyframe down the Timeline because basically, I want to have a very organized animation of the type appearing on the screen, and then towards the end of the animation, I want the text layer to actually kind of freak out and do some different changes. So let's move our playhead back to the beginning by pressing Home and select our Type layer.
Since I want this type to appear on the screen like it is being typed by a typewriter, I am just going to go up under Animation and choose Browse Presets. Under Browse Presets, let's go to Text and Animate In and look for the Type option. Typewriter. Sure enough, that's exactly what I am looking for, so let's double-click it and now I'll apply to the overall paragraph. If I open up Animator 1 and open up the Range Selector, you can see here, I have two keyframes, and if I drag, the entire paragraph is typing on within two seconds.
Well, I don't really want to do that. What I want to do is have a little bit of the Text type on and then pause for a minute and then a little more and then pause for a minute. So the easiest way to do that is decide the overall length of the Type animation. Let's drag the second keyframe down the Timeline until just before our set of freak-out keyframes appear. So now, if I scrub through, you'll notice the text is typing on the screen, and let me go ahead and refit the canvas.
You'll notice the text is typing on the screen and it will type on over about seven seconds. Now, in order to get the pauses in here, go ahead and scrub your playhead in the Timeline until you get to a place where you want to actually stop. Then if you want the typing to stop, go ahead and click this keyframe, Add keyframe button right here on the left-hand side of your Timeline. Now, we have a keyframe for this specific point in time. Now, if I move my playhead, it's just going to keep typing.
If you want it to pause, with this second keyframe highlighted, all you have to do is just Command+C to copy, Command+V to paste. And now when the type types on the page, it'll type and then pause, and then it won't continue until it hits the next keyframe. So let's go ahead and make the pause a little longer, and we'll have the type appear all the way to the end of this sentence, earth. Now, if you're having a hard time with specific characters appearing, just get up relatively close and then scrub the actual parameter. So here, I'll scrub this.
It's between 26 and 27. So let's say 26. No, it's between 25 and 26, so 25. Okay, 25.6. And yes, this is not an exact science, even though it is kind of exacting. All right, so here we've got it typing and then going to the next one and again we want this to pause, so we'll copy and paste. Sure enough, there we go. So that looks pretty good.
Now it's time to actually position the text layer around the screen as these lines type on. So to do that, let's move our playhead back to the beginning, and I want to add a null object to the scene. To do that, go up under Layer and choose Null Object. Now if you are unfamiliar with null objects, it's a great way to add more control to your animations because you can add keyframes to the null objects and you're technically not adding anything to the scene that you're going to see in the actual render.
You're just adding, in essence, a controller. So this null object I want to control the Type layer. So I need to select the Type layer and make sure the Parent panel is visible. If you're not seeing it, right-click right next to the source name and under Columns, make sure Parent is selected. With the Type layer selected, go ahead and click on the parent pick whip and choose Null 1. With Null 1 selected, as I move Null 1 around the page, the type will move around the page.
I am not seeing that because the type hasn't started typing it. So let's go ahead and get to our first pause. To zoom in on a specific area, what I am actually going to do is unparent the null object and reposition it. I'll just click position here, so we can see what's going on. Move the null object right up to where your type is that's on the page. That way when you go ahead and parent the text to it, you'll actually be moving the text right next to the null object.
So with the null object selected right here, what I want to do is position it in the screen and add a keyframe, and just so I know in reference to the typing, let's go ahead and select the Type layer and press U, and that way we can see the typing that's actually happening. So okay, I'm set for position, but what I want to do is actually add a Scale parameter to the null. So let's select the null object, Shift+ S to open up scale, while keeping the position open, and now we can scale this up.
If I really wanted to get precise, I could scale this up and then keyframe the position sliding back and forth as the type appears, but we're not going to get that crazy right now. Let's just go ahead and zoom in a little bit, so we have a little bit larger type on the screen. So now the type starts appearing and then it pauses, and then just as the type starts typing again, let's go ahead and start moving the type up the screen. So to add another keyframe to the position data, just click right here between the navigation markers, and now we've added a new position keyframe, and let's move down to when the type has stopped typing and just move the null object up on the page.
As you click and drag, if you hold Shift as you start dragging, you can make sure that the object is snapping on a particular axis, in this case the Y axis. So now you'll notice the type comes on the screen, and then when it starts typing again, we have it moving up the screen. We can do the same exact thing again once the type starts typing the rest of the way, by just adding another position keyframe as well as adding another scale keyframe, and let's move down the Timeline till we get to our last keyframe for the type effect. And let's scale this down and reposition our type on the page.
It's important not to forget: whenever you have type on the screen, make sure your Title/Action Safe guidelines are open. So now with the guides up, I can go ahead and scale this down and reposition this layer just a little bit, so I know that all the text is inside of Title/Safe. Now if we move our playhead back to the beginning and do a RAM preview, we've got some pretty cool type animation, as well as a little bit of some paragraph animation happening at the end of our composition.
But all in all, I hope you learned a little bit about parenting and controlling type and more importantly, some of the neat options available to you in the Paragraph panel.
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