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Text has received a couple of improvements in After Effects CS5, primarily in the area of per-character 3D and how it orients towards the camera. Right here, I have some 3D text which flies in and lands in relationship to the camera. I am going to go ahead and select Enable Per-character 3D. This is what allows the characters to individually spin, move, etcetera in 3D space. And I want to play around now with the Auto-Orient parameter. By default, Layer > Transform > Auto-Orient defaults to off.
So basically the text does not care where the camera is. I can move the camera around; the text will not change to look at the camera. I'm going to right-click, bring up Transform > Auto-Orient again, and I'll choose the option Orient Towards Camera. When I do that, the entire line of text rotates as one unit towards the camera. As I move the camera around, you can see that the text is orienting towards that new camera position. The new option that they added in the After Effects CS5, Transform > Auto-Orient, is down here.
Orient Each Character Independently. If you have a text layer and if the Per -character 3D has been enabled, which it has, that's what the two little boxes mean, Per-character 3D, other than normal 3D. Now each individual character will orient itself towards the camera. And as I move the camera through the text, you can see now that the lines aren't orienting. It's the characters which are orienting. I'll back off to this position. Now when I animate it into position, you will see that each character continues to look at the camera.
So it's a nice little enhancement. You can use this in conjunction with other options you already had for text in After Effects. For example, I'm going to twirl open more options and look at Anchor Point Grouping. A layer or, in this case, a character rotates around its anchor point. Anchor Point Grouping says, do you want to group together multiple items and treat it as a one unit rather than treating each character individually? Right now, I've got an Anchor Point per Character but if I was to go to Anchor Point per Word, now you see each individual word is orienting towards the camera.
To pull that off, I have Per-character 3D enabled, I open up Auto-Orient and enabled each character independently. And then I change Anchor Point Grouping to per Word. And if you went as far as to saying Align, back to where we were, where the whole line of text is orienting towards the camera. That's just a nice little additional piece of flexibility they've put into CS5.
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