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After Effects Apprentice 06: Type and Music
Illustration by John Hersey

Creating a text animator


From:

After Effects Apprentice 06: Type and Music

with Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer

Video: Creating a text animator

In this movie, we're going to add a text animator and explore the concept behind how they work. I encourage you to have a composition open with some simple text, and if you are using our exercise files and following along, you should have already created the Just Dropping In title in the previous movie. Now, the After Effects text engine was originally based on the Photoshop text engine, but Photoshop doesn't know how to animate text, so After Effects has added text animators. To apply a text animator, select your text, but don't actually pre-select the characters like this.
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  1. 3m 35s
    1. Overview
      1m 35s
    2. Using the exercise files
      2m 0s
  2. 14m 51s
    1. Setting up
      2m 20s
    2. Entering, editing, and styling type
      5m 49s
    3. Using strokes
      3m 6s
    4. Working with paragraph text
      3m 36s
  3. 23m 21s
    1. Setting a title
      2m 31s
    2. Creating a text animator
      6m 54s
    3. Selecting by character vs. percent
      3m 0s
    4. Animating position
      2m 4s
    5. Animating more properties
      3m 31s
    6. Exploring text transitions
      2m 47s
    7. Randomizing order
      2m 34s
  4. 22m 49s
    1. The Cascade recipe
      2m 15s
    2. Exploring offset plus selection shapes
      4m 16s
    3. Working with ramp selection shapes
      4m 26s
    4. Using character anchor points
      4m 40s
    5. Further refinements
      7m 12s
  5. 9m 0s
    1. Working with selections based on words
      4m 16s
    2. Anchor point grouping
      4m 44s
  6. 15m 46s
    1. Using a vertical blur treatment
      3m 58s
    2. Animated tracking
      5m 46s
    3. Working with text on a path
      6m 2s
  7. 14m 56s
    1. Per-character 3D overview
      5m 45s
    2. Enabling per-character 3D
      4m 4s
    3. Exploring per-character 3D rotation
      5m 7s
  8. 18m 37s
    1. Separating fields
      3m 48s
    2. Exploring wiggly options
      4m 28s
    3. Animating wiggles
      3m 18s
    4. Rendering with alpha channels
      7m 3s
  9. 45m 29s
    1. Adding audio
      4m 8s
    2. Audio levels
      4m 27s
    3. Spotting hit points
      5m 33s
    4. Timing to audio
      5m 25s
    5. Spotting dialogue
      7m 32s
    6. Timing dialogue to music
      6m 45s
    7. Mixing audio
      7m 53s
    8. Exploring audio refinements
      3m 46s
  10. 23m 9s
    1. Applying text presets
      5m 50s
    2. Browsing presets in Bridge
      4m 35s
    3. Editing presets
      6m 49s
    4. Saving presets
      5m 55s
  11. 16m 27s
    1. Working with Photoshop text
      4m 58s
    2. Keyframing source text
      4m 21s
    3. The Buzz Words preset
      7m 8s
  12. 20m 43s
    1. Exploring faux styling options
      7m 42s
    2. Tracking and kerning
      4m 56s
    3. Using smart quotes
      4m 8s
    4. Using hyphens and dashes
      3m 57s

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After Effects Apprentice 06: Type and Music
3h 48m Beginner Apr 28, 2011 Updated Nov 20, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

One of the cornerstones of motion graphics is creating and animating type. In this course, Trish Meyer shows how to typeset titles professionally and create custom animations, as well as apply and modify the hundreds of text animation presets that After Effects ships with. Additionally, Chris Meyer shows how to add audio to projects, including spotting "hit points" to align keyframes and video action.

The After Effects Apprentice videos on lynda.com were created by Trish and Chris Meyer and are designed to be used on their own and as a companion to their book After Effects Apprentice. We are honored to host these tutorials in the lynda.com Online Training Library®.

Topics include:
  • The core text animation recipes
  • Animating text along a path
  • Working with text animation presets
  • Timing animation to audio
  • Per-character 3D type
  • Rendering with an alpha channel
  • Making Photoshop type editable in After Effects
  • Professional typesetting tips
Subjects:
Video Motion Graphics Visual Effects
Software:
After Effects
Authors:
Chris Meyer Trish Meyer

Creating a text animator

In this movie, we're going to add a text animator and explore the concept behind how they work. I encourage you to have a composition open with some simple text, and if you are using our exercise files and following along, you should have already created the Just Dropping In title in the previous movie. Now, the After Effects text engine was originally based on the Photoshop text engine, but Photoshop doesn't know how to animate text, so After Effects has added text animators. To apply a text animator, select your text, but don't actually pre-select the characters like this.

If you have, press the Enter key, so just the layer is selected and not the individual characters. I'll explain the significance of this in the next movie. In the timeline, we'll twirl down the Text layer, and you'll see two sections: Text and Transform. Now Transform are the original transformations, and there is obviously no reason why you couldn't animate these. You should already know how to animate positions, scale, rotation, and so on. But any changes I make to regular transformations apply to the entire layer.

So I'm going to click the Reset button, and I'm going to ignore the Transformation section for now. I want to animate one character at a time, and I can only do that in the Text section. When I twirl down Text, I see Source Text, Path Options, and More Options. I'm going to cover all of these in later movies, so for now, I'm going to hide all of the properties you see here so that it doesn't confuse you. I'll press Option+Shift.

Now, we can focus on the Animate button. To add a text animator, click on the button to the right of the word Animate. This pops up a menu of all the properties you can add to the text animator. At the top, Enable Per-character 3D is very exciting, and we'll cover that later once we get the basics down. The next section are all the transformation properties, and these look very familiar, with the addition of Skew. You can also select All Transform Properties and this will add all of them at once.

Below that are Fill Color and Stroke Color, options for Tracking and Line Spacing, some oddball ones like Character Offset and Value for special effects and at the bottom, Blur is actually one of the more useful properties--and you can add it to any animation, including all of the presets that come from Adobe. Now to explore the basics, I'm going to keep it very simple and just add Position. When you do so, Animator 1 is applied automatically, a range selector is added, and the property that you've selected.

Twirl down Range Selector 1 and inside it you find Start, End, Offset, and Advanced. In this movie, we'll just focus on Start and End, but later, when we create another style of animation, we'll use the Offset property. The default for Start is 0%, and End is 100%. What that means is that all of the characters are selected. There are also indicators in the Comp panel showing you where the Start and the End values are. For instance, the Start value is at 0%, and that's indicated by this line with a small arrow.

End is at the end of our title, at 100%. As you change the value for Start, notice that indicator moves across the type, until it gets to 100%, and then it won't go any further. So when Start is at 0 and End is at 100, all of the characters are selected. Our Start moves across the 100%, none of the characters are selected. So what's the significance of this? Well, if we look at the value for position, you will see that it defaults to 0.0, 0.0.

This is an offset from its original position. You might have thought it had something to do with the top left-hand corner of the composition. That's what 0.0, 0.0 means in regular transformations. But what the Position value in a text animator means is that wherever the original position of the title is, two selected characters have an offset from there. Now at the moment, all of my letters are selected. So when I scrub the value for position in the text animator, all of the characters move right and left-- that's the x value, the first value, undo-- and all of the characters move up and down when I scrub the y value, the second value.

So let's say our position my text 140 pixels lower on the y axis. Because all of the characters are selected, all of the characters get that position offset. But look what happens when I change the value for Start. As start moves across the title, some of the characters are no longer selected, so they return to their original position. The characters that are still selected inside Start and End continue to get that offset.

So when I increase Start to 100%-- remember at this point, none of the characters are selected-- all of the characters are now returned to their original position. So let's review. Notice that all I did was increase the value for Start from 0 to 100%, and I set an offset value for Position. But notice I didn't turn on the stopwatch for Position. This is counterintuitive because when you see an animation where the characters appear to be changing their position values, you might think I need to turn on the stopwatch for Position, but you don't.

What you are actually animating is the value for Start. By the way, you can also change the value for End, and that can come in handy for certain types of animation. One more thing I wanted to point out is that as the Start value moves across the Type, characters can end up being partially selected. This is actually a good thing. If After Effects couldn't partially select them, they would simply jump from one position to another. Now I pointed out earlier that this style of animation will animate one character at a time.

Until each character is finished its animation, the next character cannot start. I call this the Typing On recipe. It's one of the easiest recipes to learn, but it's somewhat limiting. Later on, I'll show you how to create a cascade of characters.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about After Effects Apprentice 06: Type and Music.


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Q: This course was updated on 11/20/2012. What changed?
A: We have added four new movies to the end of Chapter 8, "Working With Audio." All four of these movies (Spotting dialog, Timing dialog to music, Mixing audio, and Refinements) apply to all versions covered by the course. In addition, there are new sets of exercise files designed for After Effects CS5.5 and After Effects CS6 and a companion movie that shows our premium subscribers how to use the exercise files.
 
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