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Adding a Custom Text Animation to a Promo in After Effects

This article follows on from a previous article, “Animating a 3D Text Path Promo in After Effects”. In it we created a short promo video advertising the start of a new TV show. In this article we are going to add the Channel ident. to the video, by creating a custom animation. We will also save that animation as a preset in After Effects so that it can be used again later. Don’t worry if you haven’t created the project in the first article as this can be done on it’s own. 

Step 1 - Add the Text

Select the Horizontal Type Tool or press Command-H and click on the Composition video to add a second text layer. Type in “Wednesdays 9pm on 5”.

Text Added

Text Added.

Add a line break before “9pm on 5”. This will become the text that animates, but before that we will format the text. 

Step 2 - Format Wednesdays

The text on each line should be the same width, so we will format the text Wednesdays first so as to have a guide for the shorter second line. Select just the text Wednesdays Tip: double click on he word with the type tool. 

Text selected

Text selected.

Move the CTI to 00:00:02:02 so that the animated text is fully on screen, so you can see the size and position required. Set the Font to Impact, set the size to 44px and the Tracking to -16. Position the text somewhere appropriate.

Step 3 - Format 9pm on 5

Select the second line of text. This time set the Font to Impact, set the size to 63px and the tracking to -17.

Second line formatted

Second line formatted.

To help make the text feel like a single unit we will also adjust the leading. set that to 58px so that the two lines sit closer together, and the text forms a pleasing rectangular block. 

Step 4 - Add an Animator

Open the parameters for the text layer and click on the Animate button in the Text parameter to open the menu.

Adding an animator

Adding an animator.

From the menu choose Blur. To start with we will blur the text onto the screen. 

Step 5 - Set the Blur

In the Timeline a new parameter appears named Animator 1. Set the Blur value to 300.0 on both the X and the Y parameters. This will result in the text disappearing (you might notice a slight yellow fog).

Foggy text

Foggy text.

We can leave the Blur set like this, and animate the Range Selector to bring the text into view when required.

Step 6 - Animate with the Range Selector

Open the Range Selector 1 parameter and move the CTI to 00:00:01:20. This is where the text will be visible. Click on the Time-Vary Stopwatch to add a keyframe and set the Offset value to 100%. The text will re-appear on-screen. 

The text appears

The text appears.

Now move the CTI back 1 second by typing + -1. (you need to type in the + to make this work) in the current timecode field and pressing RETURN. Here change the Offset value back to 0%. Doing this will result in the text animating in from the blur over a 1 second duration. By using the Range Selector each letter is animated in in sequence, which looks pretty nice in my opinion. 

Step 7 - Add a Second Animator

It’s possible to add another animated parameter to Animator 1, however the Range Selector 1 will ensure both animations are applied together, which is not what is required. To avoid this first re-select the text layer. 

Animator 2

Animator 2.

Use the Animator option in the Text parameter to add the animation Scale.

Step 8 - Animate Scale

Set the Scale value in Animator 2 to 115% and move the CTI to 0:00:02:10. This is where the text will begin to scale up 115% letter by letter. 

Range Selector 2 set

Range Selector 2 set.

Add a keyframe to the Range Selector 2’s Offset parameter and set the value to -100% to remove the scale effect. Then move the CTI 2 second forward by typing +4. and set the Offset value to 100%. When you play this the text grown letter by letter, then shrinks again letter by letter.....nearly there! 

Step 9 - Grow and Shrink each letter

So the last stage is very simple, however very effective. The Range Selector in Animator 2 is set to start at 0% and end at 100%. This means that the scale animation is being applied from the W of Wednesday (0%) to the 5 at the end (100%). 

15% applied

15% applied.

Change the End parameter to 10% and the effect will be applied either side of the W and no more. That way as the Offset moves, the scale effect will be applied, and then removed from each letter at a time. An End setting of 20% would add perhaps 4 letters at a time to the animation and so on. 

Step 10 - Create a Preset

Close the Animator parameters, for tidiness and select the Text parameter. 

Save Animation

Save Animation.

Choose Animation > Save Animation Preset. Name the animation Road Trip Ident and save it somewhere you will find it in future. Now both the Blur and the Grow effects can be re-applied in one step to any other text layer in After Effects in future. 

David Smith

David Smith | Articles by this author

David Smith is Scotland's most qualified Apple and Adobe certified trainer. Having completed his education at Edinburgh College of Art's BAFTA winning Film School, David moved straight into TV production, first as a Vision Mixer then quickly becoming, at the age of just 24, a director of live TV studio productions. In 2001 he moved into Higher Education where he became a lecturer in TV Production, specializing in post-production and live studio production. During this time, and working with the support of the BBC, Channel 4 and independent production companies, David was instrumental in the design, development and implementation of industry-approved vocational courses across Scotland's Colleges. In 2006, after working closely with Apple Computers to create a unique multimedia studio for education at the Music and Media Centre in Perth, David became Scotland's first Apple-Certified Trainer for Pro Apps. This led on to David forming the first Apple Authorized Training Centre for Education, north of Manchester. In 2008 David made the move to full time training and joined the ranks at Academy Class, Ltd. where he continues to train industry professionals as a certified trainer across the Adobe Creative Suite and Apple Pro Apps range.


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