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Hold that Type On Effect

Recreating the Alias Intro By Stephen Schleicher
Over the last couple of weeks, I have gotten a few requests asking how to recreate the opening credits of the television series Alias as well as how to do the cool ?fly through letters effect that reveals the new location. Instead of repeating myself in many an email, here is your recipe using the Adobe After Effects 6.0.

As was pointed out by a reader, ?It sure would be good to know ahead of time what version of After Effects you are using for these tutorials, (apparently he had just purchased AE4.0 and was having trouble following some of these tutorials), I will be adding a handy visual cue so you know what version I am working with. In my honest opinion, you should be using the latest version of After Effects (in this case 6.0), and for a few extra dollars, everyone should upgrade to the Production Bundle. You will be better off in the long run. That being said, lets begin?

Step 1: Create a New Composition (Command+N on the Mac, Control+N on the PC). For this example, I will be using the NTSC DV Preset. Set the duration to 10 seconds (you can change the length later), and Click OK.

Step 2: Using the new Text Tool type the title of your program in this case ALIAS. If you are going for ultra realism, you should probably use a font that is similar to the style used in the show. A quick search around the net found a free font called Top Secret that looks remarkably similar.

The next step could be done either of two ways to create the ?type on effect. Read through each and use the one that best suits your needs.

Step 3 (Option 1): This first method is the easiest and least difficult to understand. In the past when you wanted to use Basic Text or wanted some way of revealing text, you had to either create a mask, or create multiple layers for each letter in the text and animate them one at a time. In After Effects 6.0, Text can be animated even modified over time.

Twirl down the Layer Properties arrow and then twirl down the Text Property for the layer. Create an Initial Keyframe for Source Text by clicking on the Stopwatch Icon. If you have already typed the word ALIAS, use your Backspace to delete all letters except A.

Move to 1:00 on the Timeline (Command+G or Control+G and then enter 100). With the Text Tool still active type the next letter (in this case L). After Effects will create a new keyframe for you.

Notice that this is a Hold Keyframe. I have talked about Hold Keyframes before, so they shouldnt be totally new for you. Basically, After Effects holds revealing or activating the next keyframe value until it reaches that keyframe.

Repeat this procedure for the remaining letters in your text. Because of the Hold keyframes that are set, the end result is a typing effect.

Step 3 (Option 2): The second method is slightly more complicated, but still uses Hold Keyframes to create the type on effect. Twirl down the Layer Property for the Text layer, and in the Switches/Modes column, click on the Animate arrow. From this fly out menu select Opacity. This will add an Animator to your Text layer.

Twirl down Animator 1, and change the Fill Opacity to 0%.

Next you need to animate the Range Selector to get everything to display correctly. Twirl down the arrow for Range Selector 1 and set an initial keyframe for the Start selector. Adjust the Start value until only the first letter of your word is visible. In my example a value of 20% works.

Move to 1:00 on the Timeline (Command+G or Control+G and then enter 100). Change the State value for the Range Selector until the second letter is revealed. Be careful not to make the value too large or you will be to reveal the next letter in the series.

Repeat this process for each of the remaining letters. Luckily in my example, an incremental increase of 20 for each letter works perfectly (A=20, L=40, I=60, A=80, S=100).

Finally, click on the word Start to highlight all of the keyframes for that property. In the Timeline area, right click with your mouse and from the pop up menu select Toggle Hold Keyframe. This will turn all of the keyframes into Hold Keyframes, and because of these keyframes, the end result is a type on effect.

What makes the Alias logo so interesting is that each letter is not only typed on, but there is also a highlight that appears and blinks as each letter is revealed creating an almost computer cursor effect. Unless your particular font comes with a subset that looks like the inverse character, you are going to have to create this effect by hand.

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Related Keywords:hold keyframe, alias, after effects 6.0, ae6, schleicher


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