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Animating imported Photoshop text

If all text animations involved just two short words, such as road trip, life would be easy. But in the real world, you may often have to work with longer blocks of text, and they can be tedious to enter manually. Fortunately, After Effects lets you import text from Photoshop or Illustrator. You can preserve text layers, edit them, and animate them in After Effects.

Importing text

Some of the remaining text for this composition is in a layered Photoshop file, which you’ll import now.

  1. Double-click an empty area in the Project panel to open the Import File dialog box.
  2. Select the credits.psd file in the Lessons/Lesson03/Assets folder. Choose Composition – Retain Layer Sizes from the Import As menu, and then click Import or Open.
  3. In the Credits.psd dialog box, select Editable Layer Styles, and click OK.

    After Effects can import Photoshop layer styles, retaining the appearance of the layers you’re importing. The imported file is added as a composition to the Project panel; its layers are added in a separate folder.

  4. Drag the credits composition from the Project panel into the Timeline panel, placing it at the top of the layer stack.

Because you imported the credits.psd file as a composition with layers intact, you can work on it in its own Timeline panel, editing and animating its layers independently.

Editing imported text

The text you imported isn’t currently editable in After Effects. You’ll change that so that you can control the type and apply animations. And if you have a sharp eye, you’ve noticed some typos in the imported text. So, first you’ll clean up the type.

  1. Double-click the credits composition in the Project panel to open it in its own Timeline panel.

  2. Shift-click to select both layers in the credits Timeline panel, and choose Layer > Convert To Editable Text. (Click OK if you see a warning about missing fonts.)

    Now the text layers can be edited, and you can fix the typos.

  3. Deselect both layers, and then double-click layer 2 in the Timeline panel to select the text and automatically switch to the Horizontal Type tool (type.jpg).
  4. Type an e between the t and d in the word animated. Then change the k to a c in documentary.

  5. Switch to the Selection tool (selection.jpg) to exit text-editing mode.
  6. Shift-click to select both layers in the Timeline panel.
  7. If the Character panel isn’t open, choose Window > Character to open it.
  8. Choose the same typeface you used for the words Road Trip: Calluna Sans. Leave all other settings as they are.

  9. Click an empty area of the Timeline panel to deselect both layers. Then select layer 2 again.
  10. In the Character panel, click the Fill Color box. Then, in the Text Color dialog box, select a shade of green, and click OK. We used R=66, G=82, B=42.

Animating the subtitle

You want the letters of the subtitle—an animated documentary—to fade onscreen from left to right under the movie title. The easiest way to do this is to use another text animation preset.

  1. Go to 5:00 in the timeline. At that point, the title and the compass have finished scaling to their final size.
  2. Select the subtitle layer (layer 2) in the Timeline panel.
  3. Press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+O (Windows) or Command+Option+Shift+O (Mac OS) to jump to Adobe Bridge.
  4. Navigate to the Presets/Text/Animate In folder.
  5. Select the Fade Up Characters animation preset, and watch it in the Preview panel. This effect works well to reveal the text gradually.
  6. Double-click the Fade Up Characters preset to apply it to the subtitle layer in After Effects.
  7. With the subtitle layer selected in the Timeline panel, press UU to see the properties modified by the animation preset. You should see two keyframes for Range Selector 1 Start: one at 5:00, and one at 7:00.

    You still have a lot of animation to do in this composition, so you will speed up the effect by 1 second.

  8. Go to 6:00, and then drag the second Range Selector 1 Start keyframe to 6:00.

  9. Drag the current-time indicator across the time ruler between 5:00 and 6:00 to see the letters fade in.
  10. When you’re done, select the subtitle layer, and press U to hide the modified properties. Then choose File > Save to save your work.
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