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If you need to cycle a list of words in place, you don't need to create each word on a separate layer. It's much easier to animate the Source Text property, and there are two different approaches you can use. In this movie, we will animate source text using keyframes. In the next movie, we will apply an animation preset that uses an expression. To get started, if you have the exercise files, I'm using the first composition, Cycling Text 1. And in this example, we will be using keyframes. If you don't have the exercise files, just follow along. It's a pretty easy concept.
First, I will twirl down the Text layer and we are going to focus on the Source Text parameter, so I will just hide everything else. If I turn on the stopwatch for Source Text, you will notice it makes a square keyframe. This is a hold keyframe. What a hold keyframe is indicating here is that while I can go to another point in time and change the Source Text-- let's pick another city like Chicago-- it will not interpolate between those two values. But that's fine.
I will go 10 frames later, Shift+Page Down, and we will just pick one more. So I think you get the idea. I could continue making lots more keyframes, but I will press N to end the work area and RAM preview. It's very straightforward to cycle text in this manner, but it does mean that you have to type in, or paste in, every single word, and that getting up very tiresome if you have hundreds of words. So in the next example, I'll show a shortcut.
It's also a little more difficult to change the timing of the keyframes. I'll copy those keyframes, we'll go to one second, and I'll paste them, and we'll go over here and paste a few more. That's just to have a few more keyframes to work with. Now if I want to adjust the timing of these keyframes, I need to click on the word Source Text so all the keyframes are selected. Then I'd press the Option key on Mac, Alt key on Windows, and then I can change the timing.
However, there is one drawback with using this technique. I'll press the Semicolon key, and that will zoom the timeline to show me one frame at a time. You can see that the keyframes are not lining up exactly with whole frames. There is sort of on a half frame. I will press Semicolon again to zoom back out. Another problem is that if I want to change the color, the font, the size, and so on, I have to make sure that all the keyframes are selected and then kind of cross my fingers and hope it takes for all of the keyframes.
I usually check just to make sure. Since I have a combination of names, I'm going to change the name of the layer to list of cities. Otherwise, the layer is named after the first word you type. On the other hand, there are advantages to working with keyframes. For instance, every single time I see New York, I could change this keyframe to be a different color. Let's just pick a different color, maybe make it orange. And we will change a second keyframe as well, and now only New York will be orange. And I could continue and update all of the New Yorks.
Unfortunately, now I see another problem. If I zoom in, I have two keyframes side by side. When you are moving the Current Time Indicator and a keyframe is between two frames, when I try to edit that keyframe, it will just make a new keyframe for me. On the one hand, creating keyframes for Source Text is very easy, and you can also change the style for individual words. On the other hand, it's tricky to change the frame rate, and it's only easy when you have a short list of words.
If you have hundreds of words that you want to cycle and you just want to paste them into After Effects, the Buzz Words animation preset is your best bet, and that's what we'll be covering in the next movie.
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