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Animating Text In Motion Part 2, Text Paths

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In the first part of this series, we looked at animating text by using the Anchor Point not just on the text layer, but on the Group layer to coordinate text with other layers. In part 2, we will look at animating text along geometric paths. Bear in mind that all of the techniques in this series can be used in conjunction with each other to create some very complex effects.


Step 1 - Set Up

I’m going to create a 720p30 project at a 5 second duration for our example. Hitting the T key brings up the Text Tool, type in some sample text in the center of my canvas. Normally, I would hit the Esc key to get out of text edit mode, but not for this technique, stay in the text edit mode. With the text layer selected in the Layers pane, F4 to the Text tab and go to the Layout section. In the Layout Controls block, set Layout Method to Path. Now, we’re ready to have fun!

Figure 1

Figure 1


Step 2 - Creating Simple Shapes

Move down the Layout section to the Path Options block. Path Shape by default is set to Open Spline. The Closed Spline, Circle, Rectangle and Wave options in this menu all work pretty much the same way. I’ll show you one, experiment with the others on your own. I’ll get to Geometry later.

You can only see and manipulate the shape in the canvas with the Text Tool active and your text layer in text edit mode. You’ll see a line under your text and a control point at its beginning and end. Grab and drag these points out towards the edges of the canvas. Place the playhead at the start of the project and keyframe the Path Offset parameter at -100. Place the playhead at the end of the project and keyframe it to 100. Start playback and watch your text move along the line. 

Figure 2

Figure 2


Step 3 - Creating Complex Shapes

To change the line up, and this works for Open Spline, Circle, Rectangle and Wave also, hold the Option key and click anywhere on the line to create new control points. Drag these points around to make a complex shape. Change Path Type to B-Spline if you wish. Wrap Around makes the text start its path again as soon as it reaches the end of the line you’re working with. This technique alone gives you a very easy and fast way to run text along a simple or complex path.

Figure 3

Figure 3


Step 4 - Using Geometric Shapes

Stop playback, set the playhead to the project’s start. Change the Path Shape to Geometry now and we see a Shape Source well appears. Command-2 for the Library, go to Shapes, select the Arrow, click Apply to add it to our project. Resize it bigger and turn off its visibility in the Layers pane. F4 and back in the Text > Layout > Path Options block, drag and drop the arrow layer into the Shape Source well. Select the arrow layer, F1 and make its Scale 200%. Start playback now. Our text now runs along the outside of our shape. Check the Inside Path option and it runs along the inside of our shape.

Figure 4

Figure 4


Step 5 - Animating Path Shapes

Stop playback, set the playhead to the project’s start. Turn the arrow layer’s visibility back on and highlight it. Right-click its very center canvas control, from the pop-up menu, select Edit Points. In the Inspector > Shape tab > Geometry, keyframe the Controls Points block. Move the playhead to the project’s end, set another Control Points keyframe. Move a few of the control points as you wish. Start playback and watch how the text moves along with the changing shape over time. This allows some very complex work that could follow the action of a background video quickly and easily.

Figure 5

Figure 5


Conclusion

I don’t have the time or space to cover how detailed and complex this technique can get. It is my hope that you spend some time experimenting with the various controls and options. Draw your own shapes, customize Library shapes, you now have the basic tools to do very amazing, complex text paths easily and quickly.


Quick Links:

Animating Text In Motion Part 1, Anchor Points

Animating Text In Motion Part 2, Text Paths (You are reading it)

Animating Text In Motion Part 3, Sequence Text

Animating Text In Motion Part 4, Particle Text



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Ben Balser

Ben Balser | Articles by this author

Ben Balser studied educational psychology at Loyola University, and after retiring from a 20+ year IT career, now produces, consults, teaches, and rents equipment for media production as a full time job. As an Apple Certified Master Trainer, he ran the Louisiana Cajun Cutters FCP user group for 8 years, taught post-production at Louisiana State University and has lead their annual teen filmmaking bootcamp. He teaches currently for AATC facilities across the USA and for The Orchard Solutions. He has consulted for higher education, government, broadcast and private production facilities.

Comments

Mar 19, 2013
sjc
No need to respond, I just want to say Ben is one of the best teachers I've ever read. The dude is very smart, creative and ahead of the curve. : >
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