14. Close the composition to return to the main composition. Select ‘layer2’ then Alt/Opt + drag the duplicate text composition on top of ‘layer2’ in the timeline. This footage will replace the existing contents of that layer. Do a RAM preview by pressing 0 on your number pad to see the new title in place.

15. Repeat the previous two steps to create a third title. We added “Directed by man’o’war” in our sequence. You can repeat this process as many times as you need for your project, continuing to keyframe the slider on your null layer to move between different layers. Remember to name your layers sequentially as ‘layer1’, ‘layer2’, ‘layer3’, and so on.

16. It’s worth saving the Expressions you’ve created for use in future projects. To save an animation preset, select the null layer and open the Transform properties. Highlight the Effects, Position, X Rotation, Y Rotation and Z Rotation properties then choose Animation > Save Animation Preset. Give your preset a name and save it. Next time you want easy camera control, create a null object and make sure it’s a 3D layer. Add at least one layer with the name layer1, again 3D, then select the null object and choose Animation > Apply Animation Preset. Choose the file you saved, and your null object will be ready to go.


01. You can adjust the orientation of a layer without affecting the rotation or position of that layer. Click on a layer disclosure triangle to reveal all properties, then click on the Transform triangle. Alter the settings for Orientation to change the angle the layer appears to be relative to the camera. In this way you can avoid having every layer straight on to the camera.

02. As well as the ease() function, After Effects also allows you to use linear(), easeIn() and easeOut(). Each works as you would expect; Linear ensures the animation is linear throughout, EaseIn and EaseOut bias the animation speed towards the start or end of the animation respectively. We chose to use ease() for this project to create a nicely balanced transition – but experiment with the alternatives to see which is your favourite.

Who: Sam Hampton-Smith is an illustrator and graphic designer based in Scotland. He’s a regular author of articles and tutorials for the graphic and web design press, an aspiring musician, and a lover of good food. He also loves everything typography-related.
Contact: www.ohwrite.co.uk
Software: After Effects CS3 or above
Time to complete: 1 – 2 hours
On the CD: The starting composition, finished composition and the render from the completed project are included on the disc. We’ve also saved the Expressions as an Animation Preset for After Effects.