The Ultimate Guide to Kinetic Type in After Effects

Jake Bartlett, Motion Designer

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11 Lessons (1h 7m)
    • 1. Trailer

    • 2. Mini Typography Crash Course

    • 3. Position

    • 4. Scale

    • 5. Rotation

    • 6. The Graph Editor, Pt. 1

    • 7. The Graph Editor, Pt. 2

    • 8. Syncing Audio

    • 9. Making Presets

    • 10. Animating a 3D Camera

    • 11. Thanks for Taking My Class!

148 students are watching this class

Project Description

Animate Your Favorite TV Show or Movie Quote

Mini Typography Crash Course

  1. Pick a quote

    For your class project you'll need to pick out a favorite quote from a TV show or movie. If you're new to kinetic type I suggest that you pick something short. You don't want to burn yourself out while trying to learn!

  2. Choose your fonts

    The first (and most important) step in animating kinetic type is picking out fonts. Personality and aesthetic come from the fonts you choose to design with, so it's crucial that you make a concious effort to find fonts that work well.

    If you use multiple fonts be sure that they compliment each other. Using fonts that are too similar, or that aren't legible, will make your animation hard to look at. So make sure you look at a wide variety of options.

    Check out the project resources of this unit for help picking out and pairing fonts.

  3. Lay out your text

    Lay out each section of your quote text as you think it will be animated. Setting it all up before you animate will help organize the project, and allow you to design each section of text as it will appear in the final piece.

    Once you've set your text up in a way that you're happy with, take some screenshots and share your progress! I'd love to see what you'll be starting with. Your classmates and I are also available if you're having any trouble or need some tips.

Text Animation Basics

  1. Animate using position

    First try animating a single word using the position property. Then recreate the same animation with a text animator to see how it's different.

    You can be as simple or as complex as you'd like with your motion design. It could be as simple as sliding the text in to position from off screen, or more complex like having the word fall from above and bounce a few times. Motion design is a huge part of kinetic type so the animation is totally up to you. 

    Here are some examples of position animators:


  2. Animate using scale

    Now try animating a text layer using the scale property first, and then with a text animator. Again, be as creative as you'd like with your animations. Try changing the anchor point of the text layer to see how it affects the animation. 

    What you create now doesn't have to be polished at all. But if you do end up with something you like you'll be able to reuse the animations in the future. 

    Here are some examples of scale animators:


  3. Animate using rotation

    You know the drill; animate a text layer using the rotation property first, and then with a text animator. Be sure you understand the difference between the rotation and orientation properties, and how each will affect your animation.

    Here are some examples of rotation animators:


  4. Get creative!

    Try to be as creative as possible with your animations. You don't have to limit yourself to using just one property; combining position scale and rotation can create some very interesting looking motion. You can also animate each rotation axis individually, so be sure to play around and experiment.

    I am constantly spotting inspiration online and on TV. Recreating text animators that you find other places is a great way to get inspired and refine your skill.

    Make sure you bounce ideas off of your classmates and myself in your project and the class feed. And show us your position, scale and rotation animators too!

Using the Graph Editor

  1. Play around with the graph editor

    The graph editor will make a dramatic effect on the speed and smoothness of your animation. The best way to learn how the graph editor works is really by just messing around with it. Switch between the speed and value graphs on each property to see how they behave. Adjust the curves and try connecting and disconnecting influence handles to see what it does to your animation.

    If your handles are snapping to things or the graph editor is displaying overlays you weren't expecting, make sure these two buttons are disabled.


    Once you feel comfortable getting around in the graph editor, move on to the next step.

  2. Ease your motion

    Use the graph editor to adjust your keyframe's speed or value to be smooth--or not. As long as you understand how the graph editor changes your motion and know how to control it, you've learned what I consider to be the most important element of kinetic type.

    Try taking one of your animators from the previous unit and easing the motion with the graph editor. You should be able to see a major difference in the smoothness of your animation.

  3. Take it further

    What you've learned about the graph editor for kinetic type can be applied to ANY property inside of after effects. So try to develop a personal visual vocabulary for overall keyframed animation in after effects. This will enable you to custom design your text's motion, and get you on your way to having a distinctive style as a motion graphics artist.

    I want to see your style! Now that you've unleashed the power of the graph editor, show us what you can do! Share your progress in your class project.

Synchronize a Line of Text to an Audio Track

  1. Align the text layers to your audio track

    One of the most common issues I see with kinetic type animations is unsynchronized text and audio. It's natural to want to start your text layer at the exact moment you hear the word, but while that might seem like the right idea, the truth is that you're brain wants to see the text just barely before it hears it. The only way to get your timing perfect is by playing back the animation, making adjustments, and repeating the process.

    I generally lay out my text one line at a time, making my best guess for where the text layer should start. Scrubbing through with audio gives me a pretty good idea, but I'll always preview that part of the comp and see how well it worked. Once I've gotten everything lined up how I think it should, I show it to someone else. If they can read the text and not get confused, I've succeeded.

  2. Start animating!

    At this point you can begin to animate the text from your quote if you want. Go back to your quote's layout from the first unit and start animating it. Take the animation one section text at a time and start getting creative!

    If you'd rather just move on, that's fine. The next unit will teach you how to move from one section to the next using a 3D camera.

    Once you've animated a line (or a few), share a clip in your class project. That's a great place to get new eyes on your project to start checking your timing. 

Create An Animation Preset

  1. Choose the best animator for your animation

    Text animators can be very useful when you want to adjust the transform properties of your text without messing with your keyframes. More often than not, text animators are the best way to save your presets. They are extremely flexible and work almost exactly the same as the transform properties. Unless you run into issues with the styling of your text, or other problems animators might cause, I strongly recommend you use them for saving presets.

    Saving some animation presets based on transform properties can cause proplems. If you were to save specific position transform keyframes for a comp that is set to 1080p and applied the preset to a text layer inside a 720p comp, your keyframe's data will no longer line up with the comp because the dimensions have changed.

    So think about what after effects is preserving when you save a preset, and test the preset before getting rid of your original animation.

  2. Save your own animation preset

    Once you're happy with the way you've animated a single word, it's time to turn that animation into an easily-applicable preset. Remember that a preset can retain any number of property keyframes or values. Whatever you select before saving your preset will be preserved.

    Keep in mind that if you want to make a preset based on scale, and you select the entire transform section, the preset will set every transform value to whatever the source's values were when it was created. This is why it's important that you're very deliberate with what is selected before saving your preset. Otherwise you'll end up with undesireable results and you'll have to recreate and save your preset again.

    After you've saved your preset, try typing a new word and apply it. Did it work the way you expected? Try animating a whole line of text using the animator.

    If you discovered anything that I didn't cover in the video lesson, let your classmates and I know by updating your class project and posting it to the class feed. We're all in this together!

Rig and Animate a 3D Camera

  1. Rig your camera

    Decide how you're most comfortable animating a 3D camera. If you've never animated a 3D camera before I recommend parenting the camera to a null object and keeping the position's parameters together.

    If you'd rather control the camera with the camera controls, that's fine. I've just found using a null object to be the most efficient method for my animation style.There's no wrong way to animate a camera, just know your options and be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of each method.

  2. Choose your camera style

    Animating your camera can be just as important to kinetic type as animating the type itself. You could create an entire kinetic type animation without actually animating a single word and instead animating the camera from word to word.

    Control the motion of your camera through the graph editor exactly the same way you would for text. How you animate the camera is completely up to you. It could be a static camera that only moves after text has filled up the screen. Or it could be a slow-panning camera that rotates around a whole phrase as it animates on. It could even move very quickly and abruptly from one word to the next with no text animation. Whatever look you end up going with, just be sure that you're constantly previewing the animation so that you know the style of animation will be easily read. In the end you want your animation to be legible.

    Deciding how much text will appear in the composition as the quote progresses will affect the mood of your animation. If the quote you chose is fast paced, hectic and emotional, animating the camera quickly and with sharp motion could help communicate that feel visually. If the quote less energetic, a smoother moving camera with eased keyframes might be more appropriate. Sometimes camera movements that are too fast or abrupt can be confusing to look at.

  3. Finish your kinetic type animation!

    You've done it! Every element of the ultimate guide to kinetic type is now in your posession. From here you can animate your entire quote. Make sure you post your work to your class project when you're finished so we can all see what you've come up with!

Have Fun!

  1. Thanks!

    Thanks so much for taking my first skillshare class! I hope you found it helpful. If at any point you have questions about what I covered in this course, or any kinetic type questions in general, you can always contact me through the Q&A section of this course.

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