I have often found myself looking at text animation presets in Adobe Bridge thinking “Wouldn’t it be great to have this same thing, but in reverse?” When I was first learning Adobe After Effects, I could not figure out how to do that. Fortunately, as I got to know the program more and more, the solution became apparent – use Time Reverse Keyframes! Of course, as so often happens with me, my “Eureka!” moment became “why didn’t I see that all along?!” Hopefully this will help you avoid a similar fate.
First, write your text in a new text layer, and then set the Current Time Indicator (CTI) to the place where you want your animation to begin. What we’re about to do will cause the text to begin animating wherever you choose to put the CTI. Personally, for a text-in, I prefer to press the “Home” key to set the CTI to the beginning of the comp, set my animation, and then set the layer in-point wherever I choose to have the text come in. This has the added bonus of reducing the amount of layers that After Effects has to render until the text animation begins.
Once you’ve set the CTI, select the text layer and click on File>Browse in Bridge… and find the text animation that you like. For our purposes in this post, we’re going to choose an “out” animation that we want to convert to an “in” animation. The preset “Clay Pigeons” under the folder “Text>Miscellaneous” will do just fine for our purposes. Double click on the preset and After Effects will automatically add it to the Text layer. With the text layer selected, press “u” to bring up any settings that have been animated – in this example, it’s “the offset value of the text animator. Since we don’t have to worry about directionality with this preset, all we need to do is reverse the order of the keyframes. You can do this manually, or use a simple procedural tool in After Effects called “Time Reverse Keyframes”. In order to accomplish this, click “offset” to highlight those keyframes, and then click Animation>Keyframe Assistant>Time Reverse Keyframes. To see the final product, do a RAM preview by pressing 0 on the number pad, or if you wish to see the range selector do its work, then you can do a standard preview by pressing the spacebar.
This can be done for any animation that you like but want to see in reverse. And if you find that the preset you like has more than one value keyframes, simply select them all in the timeline panel and follow the same procedure as before – Time Reverse Keyframes can be applied to more than one value or layer simultaneously.
Hopefully this spurs some creativity on your part. I look forward to seeing what you all create!