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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®.
- 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
Skill Level Beginner
In this movie, I'll show you how to use the Buzz Words animation preset to cycle a long list of words. I will also show you how to save time by formatting your list in a word processor. To get started, I will open my second composition, Cycling Text 2 - Buzzwords. I have one layer in this comp, and I have typed 'Countries Here' to remind me that I have to paste in a list of countries that my client has provided in an email. But first, I'll show you how this Cycling Text is going to work.
Select the layer. Then in the Effects & Presets panel twirl down the Animation Presets folder, twirl down Text, and then twirl down the Expressions folder. The animation preset you are looking for is Buzz Words. I can just double-click to apply it to my selected layer and RAM preview. As you can see, this is automatically cycling between One and Ten. How is this magic happening? After all, I don't see any keyframes applied to Source Text. But now I have an arrow to the left of the word Source Text.
If I click it, I can see that there's an expression applied. Now I'm not seeing the entire expression right now, so I am going to hover my cursor right below the text until I see the cursor change, and then I'm going to click and drag it open. Now I can see all the lines in the expression. Not that I'm going to be actually editing these lines, but actually only interested in the first line. Here you can see One, Two, Three, all the way to Ten, and in between each word is a straight line.
I am sure there is a name for this symbol, but I am just going to call it the straight line. Now when I applied Buzz Words, I not only got this expression, I also got a nice handy-dandy effect. It's called Buzz Frame Rate, and it has one parameter called slider. So when I RAM previewed and I saw this tempo, if I don't like that tempo, I can speed it up or slow it down simply by scrubbing the slider. Now, just like we had in the last example, you might not want to have fractional frame rates; so maybe I will just type 6, and that way I'll have a nice even tempo.
And of course, if you are animating to music, you might be able to analyze the music, find out how many frames there are per beat and see if you can find a frame rate that locks in with those beats. The next thing I need to address is that my client didn't want to cycle between One and Ten. They gave me a list of countries, maybe countries that they're doing business in, and they want me to use that list. So let's go get that text. Well, I have my text in Microsoft Word. I will bring that forward. Remember, we have to format it in a special way, so that I have the list of countries with that straight line in between.
Of course, that's not the way my client emailed me the words. So let me show you how I got to this point. Here is the list of words I got in my email. You can see they are all in uppercase, or capital letters, and each line has a hard return at the end. Now it's not important that you can see that hard return. It's just important that I know that it's there, because I need to be able to search for this symbol and then replace it with the straight line. The first thing I am going to do is change all of the words so that only the first letter is a capital. With all the text selected, under the Format menu, I will select Change Case.
Title Case is the option I am looking for, and I will click OK. Well, that just saved me a lot of typing. The next thing I am going to do is I am going to search for all of these hard returns and replace them with the straight line. I am on a Mac so I will press Command+Shift+H to bring up the Find and Replace dialog. Since I just used it a few minutes ago to create this text, it's remembering what it was searching for before. What's important to remember is that you can't search for a hard return. You have to know the symbol that Microsoft is using to indicate a hard return.
In this case it's this little symbol followed by a p, and you find that by pressing Shift+6 and a p. Shift+6+P is a hard return. By the way, if you're looking for a tab, it's Shift+6 and a T. I will just throw that in there, but I only need to find one hard return, and I'm going to a replace it with that straight-line symbol. Now depending on what keyboard you are using, you should find it pretty easily. I can do Find Next, and it will find each one and replace it, or I could just Replace All, and it will tell me how many changes it made.
Close. And there is my text all nicely formatted, so now all I need to do is select it, copy it, go back to After Effects, and then very carefully select these words. There is a quote right before the word One and a close quote after Ten. Don't select those. You only want to select One through Ten, and then I paste, and I will press Delete because I don't really need that hard return there. When I'm done, I will press Enter to accept the changes.
Oh, look it's on Ireland. I didn't plan that, honestly. I will RAM preview. Now I have got quite a number of words, and this is only a five second animation. So I will press End and I can see the word Afghanistan, which is actually the first word that you see at the beginning of the composition. So at the end of the comp, I will back up a few frames just to see how many words I am getting. Now I seem to have a few blank frames.
That's because at the end of the last word there was this straight line. So I need to just edit my script and take out that straight line, press Enter again, and now it will go directly from the last word, the United States, and then cycle back to Afghanistan. So in my five-second animation, I am actually spending a few extra frames on the word Afghanistan, so I might want to tweak my frame rate very slightly to get rid of that. Another advantage of using the Buzz Words expression is that when I select the layer I don't have a whole bunch of source keyframes to worry about; in fact, there is no source keyframes.
So any change I make to the Character panel, such as changing the color, changing the size, and so on, I don't have to be concerned that all of the keyframes are going to update. So I think this is a great technique when you need to cycle words, and they don't necessarily have to be in the foreground. Quite often, when you're creating an animated background, you just need stuff, as we call it, floating there in the background, creating a little interesting animation.
You could also use this to cycle numbers, or even just strange symbols.