Adobe® After Effects® CC® Quick Start


Lesson Info

Animating Text

Editing text is so powerful, and so fun and probably a reason why a lot of you are actually here in the first place like this is the thing that you want to do with After Effects, and I want to just say before we get started with this that this is a daunting thing. Very few applications on the planet have text animation capabilities as robust as does After Effects. It's very powerful and it's intimidating once you start getting into it exactly how it works, and just like animation itself, we're gonna start very slowly so that you just get it. You get like the zen of text animation in After Effects 'cause then again once you get it, then you can animate everything that way, but if it's confusing, and it is kind of set up in a semi-confusing way in my opinion, it can be limiting, and we want you guys having all that power of being able to control text as you need. So, I am going to create some new text. I'm just going to use the tagline from before here. I'm just going to click. And I'm g...

onna say go anywhere, and I'm gonna use that bungee font, and I'm going to I still have the stroke. After Effects remembers a lot of your last settings, which can be cool and can be annoying. So, I wanna take this stroke and I wanna get rid of it. So with the stroke active I'm gonna click this little swatch right here, which is remove the color from something. I can also, we didn't talk about this, but I can make the fill swatch active, and then click this no fill so now we just have this hollow. There we go. I took down the stroke, by the way, but I can remove the fill so then we just have transparency through there and that can be a cool result in some cases, but I actually want to make this white, and the stroke I will activate it and make it nothing, so we just have this 3D text. And I want to align it in my composition, which is really a great job for the align panel. If you're not seeing the align panel, again you go to the window menu and choose align, but align allows you to line up layers, distribute them evenly so if you have a bunch of circles, you can just distribute them evenly, or align them against an edge. It's a really, really handy panel, and since I only have one layer that's selected here, the only choice I have I can't align it to the selection, but I can align it to the composition. So I'm going to align it horizontally to the composition, and I'm gonna align in vertically as well, so now it's completely centered in our composition. Alright guys, you ready? Here we go. Down the rabbit hole we go. I'm gonna talk about text animation. Open up the text layer. Text layers are kind of special. Regular layers they all have the transforms. Text layers are no different. They have the five basic transforms. You can animate text this way. You can fade it in and out. You could also rotate it, you know. Whatever you wanna do. But that's not super powerful. With the text animation engine in After Effects allows us to do is control things on a per character basis, and that's where things start getting really interesting. So I'm gonna close up transform, and we have this text category. Now by default there's a few options in here most of them we're not really gonna worry about here. What I wanna do is create something called an animator. An animator. And the way that we do that is by going to this animate fly out and choosing a property. Now what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna do something that looks really ugly, really ugly, but it's a great teaching tool, so I need you guys to stay with me. We're gonna make something that's beautiful, and really cool in a second, but just so that we really understand what's going on, we're going to get ugly. Gonna get ugly, okay. So what I'm gonna do is I'm going to go to animate and I wanna animate. Where'd it go? Fill color. I'm gonna animate fill color RGB. Fill color RGB. And... I'm just gonna change the color just so it's really obvious. The red kind of blends in a super ugly way, so I'm gonna click this color swatch and I'm gonna make this blue just so it's really obvious what's going on. That looks terrible. Again, I promised ugly. I'm delivering. But... When you create an animator, when you say you wanna animate a property. Again, I'm going so glacially slow. Just stay with me here. It create, it does two things. It has a property, in our case fill color, and something called a range selector, and what happens is you're sitting with the animator that you want to apply a certain attribute to this range of text. So every animator has those two things, a property and a range. A property and a range. So right now, all of our text is blue because by default the whole range is selected. So that blue that changed that property is being applied to all of the text. Now, I can open up the range selector, and adjust, let's say, the start value. So I increase start and that is this left edge, and as I bring this in it's saying okay, this stuff on the left hand side is outside of the selection. So we see this is the end value right here, and this is the start value right here. So only what's in that range, only that stuff, that's all that's allowed to be selected, or in another words affected by that change, by our RGB color change. So as we bring in our start value, this text over here is unaffected. It's our original text. Now, I know that that's probably like yeah I get it, this is really easy, but as we start getting into other properties that we adjust it's gonna be a lot harder to make that connection of what's happening, but it's really just this. It's really just this. Just one attribute changing within the range selector. Something else I want you to be aware of just really quick. You'll notice how this N right here is like not completely white or completely blue. It's almost like there's a feathered selection, and by default there is. We can change that. We probably won't but you could do that. That setting is in your range selector options. So be aware of that as well. That comes into play. So that's basically what's happening here. I could also and I'll stay seated for now on. I just wanted to just get that out there. I could also go down to the end value and drag that down. And so now we have it coming in on this side. So this is the range that's allowed to be affected by the range selector. So everything outside of this it's not... Fair game. You can't fiddle with. After Effects can't fiddle with it. It's your original text. Everything inside is fair game to be played with. 'Kay, does that make sense? 'Kay. Does that make sense audience at home? I don't know. So I'm just gonna go ahead and select this animator, and delete it and we're gonna start over with something a little bit more applicable. So now I'm going to go back to animate, and I'm going to animate opacity let's say. Now because the opacity is set to 100% by default, we don't see any change. So I'm going to take the opacity value down to 100%, and 'cause again by default everything is within the range, because of that we don't see anything because everything is in that range, but if I were to set a key frame for the start value, move in time and increase the start value. You see, less of the text is getting that adjustment applied to it. The adjustment of negative opacity or zero opacity, less of the text is getting that adjustment applied to it. So I can take start all the way up, and now when we animate this, we have this elegant type solution, or these letters fade up one at a time, and they're not really fading up one at a time, they're getting excluded from the range of things that are allowed to have 0% opacity. 'Kay, here we go. I'm hoping that this makes sense. Hoping that you're with me 'cause we're gonna get a little bit deeper, 'kay. A little bit more into the rabbit hole. So we added an animator that created a property and a range selector, and it says animate right here for this menu, but once we created the animator, then we also have this ad pop up right here, and so what we can do is we can actually add other properties to this existing range selector. I guess this is, every time I talk about this like everybody's heads is like spinning like whoa this is so crazy, there's so much, but like once you play around with it, you'll get it. Watch this few times. Rewind it, rewind it and you'll get it. This is something you really do have to like dig into, and actually physically do to really, really grasp I think. So we have animate which creates a new range selector and new property, but if we wanna add an existing property to a range selector that's already there, we can add another property. So I've already created the animation for this text. I don't wanna have to create that animation all over again. That's exactly what I want. So I'm going to go to add and we'll just add another property to this. Let's add a scale property. So now maybe when things are in this range, I can scale this down. So that when not only are things in the range invisible, but things in the range are also very small, which is hard to see but now they fade in and pop up. See that? It's fading in and popping up, because both of these attributes are under that range selector. Now if I wanna speed this up, again, I don't have to change anything with scale or anything with opacity. They're not being animated. Those values are not being animated. The only animation here is coming from the range selector. That's it. That's the only thing that we're changing over time is the range selector, and that's the power of this tool is you can make one range adjustment change the range of when this text comes in and that's all you have to adjust and then you can add a bunch of properties to it. Do a bunch of fun things to it. If I wanna speed that up I could just take these key frames, move them a little bit closer together. And there we go. I don't have to fiddle with a bunch of key frames for scale or opacity or masks or whatever. That's all I have to do. So now the text is scaling up and fading in simultaneously. That's awesome. There's a whole host of other things that you could add here under property. I can add tracking. We make the space on the lines the characters like spread out that you see that movie trailers all the time. Coming soon. That's what they said in all of them coming soon. And then there's also a blur. You could make it so that like characters are like fuzzy, and then like they come into focus, and you can rotate them and skew them, and all these different things with these same properties. It does take a little bit of time to finagle. It does take a little bit of time to wrap your head around this idea of a range selector, but start really simple and really basic. Don't add a bunch of properties initially. Just start out with one simple property. See how it changes inside the range, outside the range, and you'll get it if you're struggling with this. So that's text animation in a nutshell.

Knowing how to utilize the tools and opportunities in After Effects® can take your video from amateur to professional. Award-winning filmmaker and author Chad Perkins will help you get started with utilizing this motion software. This course covers the basics of starting a project and how to make the most of the many ways to bring life to a video. You’ll learn:

  • How to start a project and create a composition
  • Working with layers
  • Creating text
  • Understanding animation
  • Working with textures and shapes
  • Creating 3D motion with lighting and camera
  • Compositing techniques

Learn to enhance your video projects by animating text or creating transitional effects with this quick start into Adobe® After Effects® CC®.

Software used: Adobe® After Effects® CC®



  • Excellent introduction to After Effects. Definitely delivers on being a quick start to the features and capabilities of the software. Chad's passion and enthusiasm really shines through.
  • Chad is an incredible teacher. He makes what would seem like daunting projects and tasks to the common person become both possible and even simple! He keeps his audience engaged by taping into one's inner child of creativity. Keep your hand hovering over the pause button because this presentation is crammed full of incredible information. Thanks again, Chad and all the folks at CreativeLive in Seattle!