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Video Tutorial: Swirling Text in After Effects

Evan Abrams

In this After Effects tutorial you’ll create a 3D swirling text animation – perfect for making dynamic titles.

Adobe After Effects

Adding a cartoon-style swirling text animation is a great way to add life to your text in After Effects. In the video tutorial below we show you how to create this AE animation without the need for any third party effects or plugins!

First, create the basic text in AE using the default text generator and a solid shape layer. We’ll add wiggle to the text using the Animator (Wiggly Selector and Range Selector). Next, we’ll add extrusion to the text and a point light to help better sell the 3D effect.  Add a bit of motion blur and voila!

The swirling text effect is perfect for creating engaging titles for for opening sequences or film trailers. Tweak the timing, font and colors to create your own custom look!

This is a beginner-intermediate video tutorial that requires basic knowledge of working in AE. The effect is created without the need for expressions.

Best viewed full screen:

[color-box color=”gray”]Video Transcript:

This is Evan Abrams for Premiumbeat.com, and today in After Effects, we’re going to be creating this swirling text that you see playing over and over. It’s pretty good. We’re going to bring some text together, blow it apart, and all you need is Adobe After Effects CS6 or Adobe CC.

So create whirling text, the first thing you do is create a new composition, and we’re going to be using the HDTV 1080P preset, but none of that is really important for your work. So first we’re going to create a new solid that will serve as our background. We’re going to go with a light solid, somewhere around 90 percent brightness. Hit OK. Now we’re going to create a new text layer, and we can just put down whatever we want on that text layer. This will be what gets animated by our actions. So go ahead and make the font as large as you like. We’re going with 200. We’re using Source Sans Pro Black, and we’re using the color, just a nice a blue, but you can really use any hue in this range to get a similar effect. Maybe we’ll go with a red or a green, so just increase its saturation perhaps, and we’ll use this.

So we have a text layer. We want to make it 3D, and when we start making things 3D, since we’re going to be extruding this using Adobe CC’s ray trace 3D, you want to make sure that in your composition settings you are using the ray trace 3D instead of the classic 3D, and that will enable our new options. So just make sure that is switched on. Now, in the text layer, we’re going to go AA, so the things we’re going to edit about its extrusions will all be done on these materials, but to save you some rendering time, if you do most of the animation before that, then you can save a lot of processing.

We’re first going to go into the layer’s contents, go to the text, and say animate, and it will (?) character 3D, so this will make each of the characters three dimensional. Then we’re going to go animate position, and then we’re going to go into this animator. We are going to add a property. That property is going to be rotation. We’re going to add a selector, and it’s going to be the wiggly. Basically the wiggly selector is what causes the random motion to be all over the place.

We are going to go ahead and set up some things here. So first, with the position, we are going to type 540 into each of those, and it will, using the wiggly selector, go plus and minus 100 percent of that transform and push these all over the place. So now we’re going to go into the X, Y, and Z, and we’re going to put one full rotation in for each of those. Now, we’re going to go ahead about 30 frames, and then we’re going to have the range selector start begin animating. We’ll be going ahead as many frames as you like. We’re going ahead to about three seconds, and the start will animate all the way across, so that will gather all of the layers into this line.

Now we’re going to zoom in on those key frames, because as these things are gathering, we would like the strength of their distribution to be going down, as well. So set key frames for all of the values that you’ve changed, and then at the end, we’re going to set all of those values to be zero. So they all will come to rest, meaning things are getting less intense overall as the entire piece is coming together. We’ll be going into the range selector one advanced options, changing its ease low to 100%, so it eases into those transformations, and as well for the entire layer, we would like for it to be rotating, so we’re going to pull up the entire layer’s rotation. Using its orientation, we are going to pivot it from roughly 45 degrees at the start, calling up all of its properties, and then going to the end and resting it at -45 degrees so it is facing in the opposite direction. Take both of those key frames and easy ease [SP] them by selecting them and hitting F9.

Now, since we have all of the layers coming together, we are going to need them now to explode apart. So what we’ll be doing is animating from these position rotation values all the way up to their total values, something like 1920, across all position markers, and the rotation values will all be one complete rotation. With the start value, basically what we’ll be doing is we’ll go in here, we’ll offset this key frame by one, and then we’ll just set the start here to be zero so that the range selector is no longer affecting the wiggle selector, and this thing can blow apart.

We’ll also want to go into the wiggly selector, and at this point, we need to change the random seed. So the random seed one frame before is at zero, and then we’ll just increase that value to one so it has a new random set of values to work off of. As well, we’ll be changing the wiggles per second here. One frame ago it was at two, and now it is at zero, so it no longer wiggles. It just shoots straight apart. Now you’ll probably want to push these in to increase that explosion, or you can easy ease these, go into their key frames, and then alter them to have a graph more like this so they shoot apart further sooner and then ease into their drifting. These other key frames at the beginning don’t need to be anything other than flat, and that is essentially how everything comes together.

So to add the extrude, what we’re going to do is we’ll go to the text layer, hit AA to call up its properties. We are going to give it a bevel style of convex, and then we’re going to give it an extrusion depth of 50. So to give this more definition, we’re going to create a new light, make it a point light, and that will add shading and shadow to all of these surfaces so it’s easier to see. Now, you don’t have to create a camera if you don’t want to, but if you’d like to, you can go right ahead, but for our purposes, we’ll just be putting on the motion blur for both of these, which will take a considerable amount of rendering to make happen. But, all in, this is completed. So from zero to five seconds, set the beginning and ending of this, and then we render it out, and enjoy it.

This is a quick way to create text for trailers and for all sorts of things, and creates a lovely, swirling, cartoony effect, and hopefully it’s useful in your projects. So I’m Evan Abrams for Premiumbeat.com. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the swirling text. Stop by the blog at Premiumbeat.com for tips and tutorials in After Effects and other applications, and, of course, come to Premiumbeat.com for all of your royalty free music and sound effects needs, because this could probably use some swooshing and whooshing noises, quite frankly. Anyway, I’m Evan Abrams. Thank you so much for watching, and I’ll see you around the Internet. [/color-box]