Join Ian Robinson for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating type animators, part of After Effects CC Essential Training (2015).
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- Type animators give you the ability to add animation to your text objects on a line by line, word by word, or even character by character basis. Now the first time I ever worked with type animators, to be honest, I found them to be a little confusing, but don't worry. Over the years, I've developed a neat little method for explaining how they function. So let's jump in and get started. I want to start by looking at a reference project, so make sure you have the Lower 3rd Reference project active and I'll press the spacebar to play back. Notice I've already loaded up the frame, so everything plays back nice and smooth.
So I'll go ahead and press the spacebar to stop playback. And grab the current time indicator, and if we scrub through, you can see each individual letter is animating into our lower third, and they're doing scale rotation and an opacity fade. So we're actually going to create each animation just with one text animator. To do that, I want to go to the Type Animators composition. Just click on the tab on the timeline or double click on the Type Animators comp in your project panel.
So let's start by deciding where we want our letters to start animating. So if we scrub through, you can see the line starts to come in right around frame 15 or maybe even 16, but let's have our animation start around frame 15, and let's just focus on the name. So enable solo for layer one, hold down the z key to grab the zoom tool, and just draw a box around the name. Now if you didn't get up at 200% magnification, you can hover your mouse over the name and just use the comma or period key to zoom in and out.
Now even at 200, it looks jagged, but don't worry. When it renders, it'll be nice a smooth. We've just kind of over-magnified, but I really want you to see exactly what's going on. If we open up the options for layer one, notice I have my text options, but if you go over here to the right, under our switches and modes, you can see I've got an animate button. If we click on that, you can see all the different parameters we can animate. I want to start with the scale parameter. So notice nothing really has changed except we have these small x's underneath each individual letter.
By default, it's going to animate each character. Now if we look in the timeline, you can see I have Animator 1 and Range Selector 1 and the Scale parameter. Well let's start by changing the scale parameter to something like 50%. So here now, at 50%, you can see each character has been scaled and they're scaling around their anchor point at the bottom of each letter. If we open up the Range Selector, and then scrub the Start parameter to the right, just by clicking and dragging, let's change it to a percentage of about 25.
And we can do the same thing for the end. Let's click and drag and bring that across, and let's set that around 45. Okay, only the letters that are within this range will have this scale parameter adjustment applied. So that's the easiest way to think about working with animators. Whatever the selection is will have the parameter change that you specify. So let's change the start back to zero, and the end up to 100, and I want to add another parameter change to this, but before I do that, I want to actually create some kind of animation.
So I want the text to animate from small to large. So let's start by animating the start parameter. I'll click the stopwatch to add the first key frame, and let's move down the timeline to about 1:15, and then we'll change the start parameter up to 100%. Now as I move through, you can see this range selector moving through the timeline. You can actually move range selectors by hovering over the little triangle and clicking and dragging, but since I've already added key frames, that's going to add another key frame, so I'll just undo that really quickly.
And we can scrub through. So you can see the text is gonna start small and get large. So let's go back to the beginning here. I want to add rotation to this animation as well. So we'll click on the Add button, go to the Property, and choose Rotation. Let's change the rotation to a value of -66. So now when it animates, it's going to rotate and scale. So let's add a fade into this as well. I'll go to the Add button, go to the Property, and we'll go to Opacity. And here let's change the opacity to 0.
So now it's going to fade, rotate, and scale. And of course, if we want it to scale up from zero, we could go back and just change the scale parameter to 0. So here we go. Now we've got our animation somewhat complete. Now there are some other more advanced things I want to show you about how this works. Remember how I said we could animate character by character or even word by word? Well if we open up the Advanced option here, notice we have a setting here for units. Well if I look at my Range Selector, it's set at 60% and 100%.
That's based on percentage. If I go to index, it'll index each individual character. So here now I can see I've got nine characters in my animation and I know exactly which characters are selected based on this number. Now based on what? Characters. Well let's change that from characters to words, since we have two words. Now as we move through, you'll see each word is animating. One and the next. But notice how the characters are still spinning.
Well if you scroll up, under More Options, I have an Anchor Point Grouping option and by default, it's set to the character. So here, if I change that to word as well, now notice I only have one anchor point on each individual word. So if I scrub here, you can see each word is going to animate in. Okay, well what if I want the anchor point on the side? Well under Grouping Alignment, here, I can just click and drag to move the anchor point. So here I changed it to -94%.
Now each word is going to rotate in based on the lower lefthand corner. So you have a lot of control and the key to working with this is scrubbing in your timeline. If you're not sure what's going on, go ahead and scrub in the timeline. Now I'm going to change my anchor point grouping back to character and I'll go back down here, and under Advanced, I'll make sure my index units are based on characters. So now we've got our character animation. Now once you've applied a single animator, you can collapse that animator, and if you just deselect the layer, just by clicking anywhere else in the timeline, you can go back up to the Animate property, and when I click on that, and add another parameter.
Say the Fill Color. I could change that fill color to RGB, and by default, it'll choose red, which is really bright. So I'm gonna click on that and choose something that's kind of blue and click OK. So here, now, notice I have a completely separate animator, so if I scrub through, it's always going to be blue until I open up Animator 2's Range Selector and here I could go ahead and control the animation separately. So when you start layering animators on top of animators and animating each different animator's range selector, how many times can I say animator? You get the idea.
You can get a really complex animation. If you want to actually not see what an animator is doing, you can turn its visibility off here in the timeline, or if you want to delete the animator, you can just click on the word and just press delete. If you didn't quite understand how all this was working, please feel free to watch the video again, however I recommend that you wait a few minutes then try again to create your own project. Go through the steps again. If you're ever unsure as to what's going on, scrub any of the parameters in question just to see how things in your composition might change.
- Building graphics such as lower thirds, logos, and credit rolls
- Repairing and retiming video
- Keying green-screen footage
- Animating a 3D logo
- Motion tracking
Your guide, Ian Robinson, wraps up the course with some project management techniques that will help you merge projects from multiple editors, and get you in the habit of archiving completed work.