Smooth Credit Rolls in After Effects

{I’ve been looking for something like this for years. Thought I’d share it in case you might be looking for the same thing – B.}

Step-by-Step to create a smooth credit roll in After Effects

1. Grab a copy of the project template. Smooth Credit Roll Template.aep

2. Grab a copy of the Credits you need to roll. A Plain Text file will work best.

3. Rename the After Effects Template to your project’s needs.

4. Open in AE4 or higher.

5. In this project there are two Compositions to deal with:

5a. Text Layer – This is the comp where you will put the text. More on adjusting it in later steps.

5b. Roll – This is the comp that actually produces the credit roll. Nothing should be adjusted in this comp – except the length.

HOW DOES THE ROLL WORK?

The combination of these two comps in conjunction with an expression. The expression computes the length (in pixels) of the text layer. It then divides that length over the time of the roll and moves the text so that it only moves up two scan lines per frame. This control over the movement prevents the roll from flickering and allows for it to move smoothly. Fortunately, you do not need to mess with the expression at all. The expression was found on a Creative Cow Forum post by Kevin Camp of KCPQ – (http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/2/951001#951080). Take a look at that post or peek at the expression itself. Kevin put a nice set of instructions into the expression about how to get it working.

6. Edit the text in the Text Layer Comp. There are no animation keyframes in the Text Layer. The best thing to do is adjust the font size and leading so that the entire roll fills the layer as much as possible (see picture to left). Make small adjustments (a point here, a point there, etc.) Since you’re adjusting over a large layer, even small tweaks can make a large difference. If you need to include logos or other elements in the roll, they can be pasted into the Text Layer Comp at this point as well. Take care when adjusting the size of the Text Layer, the size it currently is seems to be in the sweet spot for about a 29-second roll. Making the Text Layer shorter or taller could affect the time that the roll takes to complete.

7. Once you’ve edited the text to fill the Text Layer comp, you can switch over to the Roll Composition and take a look. You should be good to go for rendering. Choose your codec and output. IMPORTANT NOTE: You must choose to output with Fields turned on if you are going to an interlaced output (ie. 29.97, 59.94)

8. Render it out

TWO POINTS OF CONSIDERATION:

– Generally, even at 100%, the Roll Comp will look like crud when played back on the computer display. You will only see the smoothness when displayed on a broadcast monitor using a Kona, Decklink, etc.

– Time of the Roll does not always use all of the length in the Roll Comp. Because of the math, there are only certain durations that work out correctly given a certain pixel height of the Text Layer. What happens is that the formula for moving the layer causes it to come out correctly at a time that is shorter or longer than the exact duration you may want. If you scroll through the text in the template you will see that the final element scrolls off the screen at about 28-seconds. This time is calculated the actual length of the Text Layer and how tall it is. Changing the height of the Text Layer will affect the time when the roll completes – sometimes shorter, sometimes longer. Be careful when adjusting the height of the Text Layer.

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