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  • alexandru simion
    mai 24, 2011
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Animating text

Animating text

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to animate text in Adobe After Effects CS3 and use Per-Character 3D, one of the most powerful new features in this program.

Requirements

To follow along with this article, you will need the following software and files:

  • After Effects CS3
  • Sample File

Watch this tutorial in the Adobe Creative Suite 3 Video Workshop.

Animating text

  1. In After Effects, choose File > Open Project and open vid0226-Text in 3D-CS3.aep.
  2. Choose the Text Animation tab in the Timeline. This composition contains a text layer that was imported from a layered Photoshop file.
  3. Choose Text from the Workspace pop-up menu in the upper-right corner of the interface. This converts the workspace layout to one more conducive to working with type. The Character and Paragraph panels open on the right side of the workspace.
  4. Select the Text From A-Z layer.
  5. Choose Layer > Convert To Editable Text so that you can edit and animate the text.

    This transforms the layer into an After Effects text layer, indicated by the T icon next to the layer name in the Timeline panel. If the text extends beyond the boundaries of the background, as shown here, it probably means you are missing a font. In this case, choose the Character panel and choose an alternative font from the first pop-up menu.

Figure 1
Figure 1: Select the Text From A-Z layer and choose Layer > Convert To Editable Text so that you can animate the text.

Figure 2
Figure 2: Select an alternative font from the Font Set pop-up menu.

  1. Now that the text is editable, you can change words or even individual characters.  Choose the Text tool from the Tools panel, and then insert your cursor after the word Animation. Delete the last three characters and type or to change the word to Animator.

Figure 3
Figure 3: Choose the Text tool from the Tools panel and insert you cursor anywhere in the text to delete and change individual characters.

  1. Insert your cursor after the word Text and click and drag backwards to select the word, or press Shift and use the left arrow to select the characters one by one.
  2. Choose the Character panel. Click the Foreground Color box and select a pale orange color from the Text Color dialog box. Click OK to change the color of the selected word and close the dialog box.

Figure 4
Figure 4: Change the properties of selected text by changing the settings in the Character panel.

  1. Deselect the word Text, and then press Enter to select the entire text layer.
  2. Text animation doesn’t happen in the Character or Paragraph panels; as with most After Effects animations, it happens in the Timeline panel. Click the triangle next to the Text From A-Z layer name to reveal the Text, Transform, and Layer Styles properties. Click the triangle next to Text to expand it further. An Animate option appears next to the expanded Text property.

Figure 5
Figure 5: Expand the properties underneath the Text From A-Z layer to reveal the Animate pop-up menu.

  1. To better concentrate on the Text layer, hide the rest of the layers by pressing Shift+Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) and clicking the Transform and Layer Styles properties, as well as the Path Options, Source Options, and Source Text properties that are under Text.
  2. Click the Animate pop-up menu to preview all of the properties that you can animate, as shown in the following illustration. Choose Position to start.

Figure 6
Figure 6: Click the Animate pop-up menu to preview the list of text properties that you can animate.

  1. As soon as you select Position, Animator 1 appears in the Timeline. The animator contains Range Selector 1 and the selected property (Position). Two values are listed next to Position; one represents the object position on the x axis and one represents the position on the y axis. These values are the distance the object is offset from its original position, not exact coordinates. Click and drag the x axis back and forth to watch the position of the text move back and forth in the Composition panel. Click and drag the y axis and watch the text move up and down.

Figure 7
Figure 7: Change the Position property values to move the text up and down or right and left.

  1. Return the x axis position to 0 and change the y axis position to -150.
  2. Click the triangle next to Range Selector 1 to display more properties, including the Start and End positions and an Offset setting. The Start and End positions are also visible in the Composition panel, as indicated by the vertical lines at the beginning and end of the text path. By default, the Start position is set at 0% and the End is set at 100%. When you change the Position values, the entire path moves. Leave the default values for now.
  3. Click the stopwatch icon next to the Start property to set an initial keyframe.
  4. Move the current-time indicator (CTI) to 0:00:03:00 and click the stopwatch again to set a second keyframe.
  5. Change the Start position to 100%.

Figure 8
Figure 8: Move the CTI to 03:00 and change the Start property to 100%

  1. Press 0 to preview the animation. Press 0 again to stop the animation.
  2. To add more properties to an animation, click the Add pop-up menu next to Animator 1 and choose Property > Opacity.
  3. Change the Opacity value to 0%.
  4. Press 0 to preview the animation.  Notice that the text becomes opaque as it drops into position. Press 0 again to stop the animation.

Figure 9
Figure 9: Add an Opacity property of 0% to make it look like the text is dropping invisibly into the composition.

  1. To fine-tune your animation, click the triangle next to the Advanced Section under Range Selector 1. To turn this property on, click Off next to Randomize Order.
  2. Press 0 to preview the animation. Notice that the text animates in the same way, but the characters drop down in a random order. Press 0 again to stop the animation.

Per-Character 3D

In this section, you’ll learn about a great new feature in After Effects CS3, Per-Character 3D.

  1. Choose the Cascade composition in the Timeline. To animate this text, first expand the Natural Energy Drink layer to reveal the Text section.

Figure 10
Figure 10: Click the triangle next to the Natural Energy Drink layer to expand the layer properties.

  1. Click the Animate pop-up menu and choose Rotation.
  2. Change the degree value to watch the text rotate. Because this is a normal, 2D layer, the text rotates on a single axis. However, After Effects CS3 has a new feature that allows you to do much more.

Figure 11
Figure 11: Change the second value of the Rotation property to watch the text rotate in the Composition panel.

  1. Click the Add pop-up menu and choose Property > Enable Per-Character 3D. Notice that as soon as you select this option, the rotation changes to separate X, Y, and Z Rotation properties. The value that you added while in 2D mode should appear next to the Z Rotation.

Figure 12
Figure 12: Enabling Per-Character 3D adds two more rotation properties to Range Selector 1.

  1. Return the Z Rotation to 0. Try experimenting with the new X and Y Rotations to see how they affect the text.
  2. When you are done, change the X Rotation to 180 degrees. Return the Y Rotation to 0. Now you’ll set up an animation using these properties.
  3. Click the triangle next to Range Selector 1 to expand it, and then expand the Advanced section. Choose Ramp Up from the Shape pop-up menu.

    Ramp Up uses the Start and End parameters to affect where the X Rotation starts and stops. The Offset value affects how many characters rotate at a time.

Figure 13
Figure 13: Choose Ramp Up from the Shape pop-up menu.

  1. Set Start to 0%, End to 40%, and Offset to -40% (the inverse of the End value). Click the stopwatch next to Offset to set the first keyframe.
  2. Move the current-time indicator (CTI) to 0:00:01:29 and change the Offset value to 100%. Click the stopwatch next to Offset to set the second keyframe.
  3. Press 0 to preview the animation. Press 0 again to stop the animation.
  4. This is 3D text, although it is kind of hard to tell from the current angle. To get a better view of the animation, choose Custom View 1 from the 3D View pop-up menu at the bottom of the Composition panel. Press 0 to preview the animation. Press 0 again to stop the animation.

Figure 14
Figure 14: Choose Custom View 1 from the 3D View pop-up menu for a better angle on the animation.

  1. Click the Add pop-up menu next to Animator 1 and choose Property > Position. A Position property is added above the Rotation properties and because this is a 3D animation, Position now has three values: X, Y, and Z.
  2. Change the Z Position to -300 and press 0 to watch the characters rotate while they move from the front of the stage to the text’s original position. Providing a positive Z Position value would force the text to move from back to front. Press 0 again to stop the animation.

Figure 15
Figure 15: Set the Z Position’s property value to a negative number to watch the text animate from front to back.

  1. Click the Add pop-up menu next to Animator 1 and choose Property > Opacity. Change the Opacity to 0%. Press 0 to preview the animation.

    Note: Adding an Opacity value of 0% is a great alternative to moving your text completely off stage and animating it across.

  2. When you are finished working with the Cascade composition, examine the Aqua 3D Text composition, an example of more complex animated text. This composition includes lights and camera layers, and other layers that are in 3D. This combination enables the animated text to cast a 3D drop shadow on other moving layers.
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