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Tutorial: How to Emphasize Text with Light Adjustments in Adobe After Effects

Clear Online Video's Stjepan Alaupovic demonstrates how to spotlight text in your projects using animated lighting effects with this simple technique in Adobe After Effects CC 2015.

Adjusting the Light

In Figure 5 (below) you can see the light that we've added.

Figure 5. Here is the light we’ve created.

With the Light 1 layer selected, you can play with the position of the light by dragging the handles in and out or to the left and to the right. For now we're going to turn on the Adjustment Layer option for our light. What this does is apply the light only to the layers that sit beneath it in the timeline stacking order. Once we move our light beneath the main text layer, you will see that this is only applied to the layers sitting under it.

In order to dial in our look, we can adjust the options in the Light 1 layer drop-down. Select the triangle next to the light to expand these options (Figure 6, below). We'll start with the Intensity value. Increasing this value will do just like it sounds and will make the light more powerful, adding a smaller value will decrease the intensity.

Figure 6. Light Options

Next we can pick a color for our light source. Click on the color square and you'll get the option to choose the color of your choice. I'm going to go with the light blue option to complement our gradient background. Press OK once you have your color selected.

Now we can go back and adjust the intensity if necessary. The remaining options give you some Falloff values that you can adjust and play with. These can work nicely to add more dimension and sheen to the text layers being affected by the light. For now I'm going to keep the Falloff option to none.

Animating the Light Over Time

One of my favorite things about adding lights in this technique is that you have the option to animate this light over time. I'm going to have it pan across from left to right over time. Press P in the light layer and enable the keyframe option for position by selecting the stopwatch icon (Figure 7, below). Now we've added our first keyframe to where the CTI is located in our timeline. Let's move that keyframe so that it's located at 2 seconds. This is where I want our animation to finish.

Figure 7. Enabling Position keyframes

Now let's drag the CTI back to the beginning of the timeline where we want our animation to begin. As we adjust the position, you can see that the keyframe has automatically been added since we've enabled keyframes. We can continue to adjust these parameters until we’re happy with the way it looks.

Overall, this is a great way to add a light or a glow effect to several different layers. It's much more efficient than trying to adjust opacity and colors for all of these layers individually. Give it a try in your next project.

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