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I think you'll find you have rarely used Triangle, Round, or Smooth. After the Square shape, the most useful shape is Ramp Up. When I select Ramp Up, notice something completely different happens. Instead of the characters after End being normal, all of the characters after End are fully selected. And now the Start and End selectors create the transition between normal and fully selected. And just as before, all of the characters before Start are normal.
The opposite happens with the Ramp Down shape. Now all of the characters before Start are fully selected and then the characters transition to being normal. You can use this shape for animating off a title. So let's change the shape back to Ramp Up. Notice when I scrub the Offset, you can see the beginning of the cascading animation. Remember that the number of characters between Start and End is what's defining how many characters are cascading at the same time.
If I change the End parameter to say 25%, now only 25% of the characters are animating at once. I'll undo back to 50%. Now remember, there's one more ingredient we need to add. We need to make the characters after End disappear. And remember that adding Opacity is the easiest way to do that. So I'll add Opacity, change it to 0%, and now the characters will transition between the Start and End selectors from 100% Opacity to 0% Opacity.
So now that we have all the ingredients in place, the last thing we need to do is animate Offset. So at time 0, I'll turn on the stopwatch for Offset, and I have to decide what value to make it. As I scrub it to the left, I can see the characters disappear, but I really don't need to go all the way to -100%. All I need to do is place it just to the left of the Start and End selectors. So if I enter a value that's negative, the End value--which in this case is -50%--that will place the Start and End selectors immediately to the left of the title.
For my second keyframe, I'll go to 2 seconds and I'll scrub Offset all the way to 100%, its maximum value. Remember, at this point Start and End are now to the right of the title, so no characters are selected. Now when I RAM Preview, I now have the basis of a cascading animation. Now remember, you can add as many other properties as you like to this animation. For instance, I could add Property > Blur, increase the Blur value, and the characters will be progressively more blurred between the Start and the End selectors, and so on, with other properties like Rotation and Scale.
Now I mentioned earlier that Ramp Down can be used to transition off type. When I select it and RAM preview, the title now moves off the screen. Now if you want to transition off a title, you'll want to move the keyframes to the end of the comp. I'll RAM preview, and I think it might look more natural if the Position offset was lower in the comp, let's say 150 positive. Now, the title folds down the screen.
And obviously, there are lots of variations on this cascading recipe. So long as you understand that you animate Offset, set the Shape pop-up to Ramp Up, and add the Opacity parameter, you can do almost anything with this basic recipe. Now if you apply any of the text animation presets that come bundled with After Effects and you notice that the only keyframes are for the Offset parameter, there's a pretty good chance it's a cascading animation, and you can confirm that by twirling down the Advanced section and checking that the Shape pop-up is set to Ramp Up.
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