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Animating Text

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Animating the dragonfly

To cap off this project, you’ll use a mask from a text layer to animate a nontext layer. Specifically, you’ll use the mask shape for the directed by path to create a motion path for a dragonfly graphic. This will make it appear as if the dragonfly is pulling the directed by text on-screen. You need to start by importing the dragonfly graphic and adding it to your composition.

  1. Double-click an empty area in the Project panel to open the Import File dialog box.
  2. In the AE7_CIB > Lessons > Lesson03 > Assets folder, select the dragonfly.ai file, choose Import As > Composition – Cropped Layers, and then click Open.
  3. Drag the Dragonfly composition from the Project panel to the top of the layer stack in the Pond_Title_Sequence Timeline panel.

Copying the mask shape

Now you’re ready to copy the mask shape from the path of the Directed By layer to the Dragonfly layer.

  1. Go to 5:00.
  2. Select the Directed By layer in the Timeline panel and press M to display its Mask Shape property.
  3. Click the Mask Shape property name to select it, and then choose Edit > Copy.
  4. Select the Dragonfly layer, and then press P to display its Position property.
  5. Click the Position property name to select it, and then choose Edit > Paste. After Effects copies the Position keyframes from the Directed By layer to the Dragonfly layer.

Orienting the dragonfly

Unfortunately, the dragonfly is flying backward, but that’s easy to fix.

  1. With the Dragonfly layer selected in the Timeline panel, choose Layer > Transform > Auto-Orient.
  2. In the Auto-Orientation dialog box, select Orient Along Path, and then click OK. Now, the dragonfly is facing forward as it flies.
  3. Select the Dragonfly layer in the Timeline panel and press U to hide its Position property.

Coordinating the text and dragonfly timing

Next, you need to coordinate the timing of the dragonfly’s motion with the words directed by so that the words correctly trail behind the dragonfly.

  1. Select the Directed By layer and press U to display its Path Options in the Timeline panel.
  2. Go to 5:09 and change the First Margin value to 127.0. After Effects adds a new Easy Ease keyframe.
  3. Go to 5:18 and change the First Margin value to 373.0. Once again, After Effects adds a keyframe, and the text moves behind the dragonfly.
  4. Go to 5:25 and change the First Margin value to 559.0.
  5. Go to 4:24 and drag the first First Margin keyframe to that position.
  6. Manually preview the corrected path animation by dragging the current-time indicator across the time ruler from about 4:20 to 7:10. The words follow the dragonfly and come to rest above your name, while the dragonfly continues to fly along the path and off-screen.
  7. Select the Directed By layer and press U to hide its Path Options property, then press the Home key to go to the beginning of the time ruler.
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