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

Working with text on a path


From:

After Effects Apprentice 06: Type and Music

with Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer

Video: Working with text on a path

The final look we're going for is for animated text to flow along a path. In this case, I have one mask path at the beginning that's inspired by the movement in the background movie. I'll press End to see the second keyframe for the mask path. I'll bring my starter comp forward again, where I have my text, and at this point, the blur is animating, along with tracking. Just so we can see things clearly, I'll turn off the eyeballs for both animators, so now we just have some plain text.
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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

Working with text on a path

The final look we're going for is for animated text to flow along a path. In this case, I have one mask path at the beginning that's inspired by the movement in the background movie. I'll press End to see the second keyframe for the mask path. I'll bring my starter comp forward again, where I have my text, and at this point, the blur is animating, along with tracking. Just so we can see things clearly, I'll turn off the eyeballs for both animators, so now we just have some plain text.

I'll make sure the text layer is selected. This is very important. You can only apply text on a path if the path is actually on the text layer; the path cannot be on the background layer. But I will turn on the background, just so I can be inspired by the movement in the animation. If you don't have the exercise files, see if you can find a similar background with some nice animated shapes. So with the text layer selected, I'll select the Pen tool, and then I'll also make sure that the RotoBezier option is enabled on the right-hand side of the Tools panel.

To create the path, I'll simply click anywhere and just flow along these lines. I can return to a point, press the Option key, and adjust its tension. I'll return to the Selection tool and move some of the points around until I get just the line I'm looking for--and I prefer to have a nice smooth line with no hard edges. Next, in the timeline, we'll twirl down Path Options and change the Path menu from None to using Mask 1.

As soon as I do that, now I'll see the Path options. By all means, play with all of these options, just to check out what they do. Reverse Path will change the negative/positive side of the path. This is very useful for text on a circle, where you might want to text to be inside the circle. We'll change it back the other way. Perpendicular To Path changes how the text sits on the path, whether it automatically orients along the path or whether it sits upright in the composition.

Now, the path does have a start and an end, so when you turn on Force Alignment, it forces the first character to the beginning of the line and the last character to the end of the line. What's actually going on is that the text is justifying between the first margin, which happens to be at the beginning of the path, and the last margin, which happens to be at the end of the path. But in the timeline you have controls for where the first and last margins are, so you can adjust that.

But what we want to do is animate the text along the path, and you won't be able to do that so long as Force Alignment is enabled. So I'll turn off Force Alignment and I'll set First Margin back to 0 for now, and I'll change the Last Margin back to 0 as well. So with Force Alignment turned off, when I scrub the value for First Margin, the text will move along the curve, and the same thing will happen when I scrub Last Margin. So it's probably best to just pick one of the other. So I'll Undo.

So in this case, I'm going to animate First Margin. So at time 0, I'll turn on the stopwatch for First Margin and move the text back towards the beginning of the path. Now, at this point, I'll want to enable Animator 2, which adds tracking. That way I'll able to see what's happening to my title at the beginning of the animation when tracking is set to 10. Now I can adjust the First Margin, or I can also adjust the tracking value. I'll go to the end of the comp by pressing End, and I'll scrub the First Margin value and place the title where I'd like it to be, at the end of the animation.

I'll RAM preview, and that's how the text looks moving along a static mask path. Now, remember, you can animate the mask path. I'll twirl down Masks in the timeline, return to time 0, and Mask Path is the property I need to animate, so I'll turn on the stopwatch for Mask Path and that will remember the position of the mask path at this point in time. I'll press End, I'll click off and back on, so that just one point is selected.

And we can choose how we like this to look. I'll make a few little changes. Maybe something like that. I'll RAM preview, and now the mask is animating as well as the tracking. If you move the Current Time Indicator or press Play to do a standard preview, you'll see the mask animating in the compile. Now all I need to do is turn back on Animator 1, so I can see my Blur effect as well.

And of course at this point you can do some tweaking, press U to see all of my keyframes, and I can decide which keyframes I'd like to ease into. I think the Tracking amount could do with some ease. I'll select it and press F9. And you can also choose to ease into the Offset keyframe if you'd like. I'll bring the final comp forward again and point out that I did add a Radial Shadow effect, and you can find that under Effect > Perspective > Radial Shadow.

In the next movie, we'll look at how to animate text in 3D space, and that will use the Enable Per-character 3D option, which, by the way, you can add to any animation. So after you do the next chapter, feel free to return to any of the animations you've done so far and see how they look animating in 3D space.

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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