We will be updating this section often as we learn more about working with the monkey. Please feel free to send of some of your tips and we'll post them here.
Customizing a layout manually is very easy. Just click and move, resize or rotate. It might be easier to unshy all the layers. Keep in mind that all control layers are parented to the one before it, so by adjusting one, everything after will be changed as well.
Font & Color: These are functions of the text layer itself. Unlock the layer and make the changes in AE's Character Window.
Word Opacity: Also a function of the Text layer. Unlock and adjust.
As with any long or complex animation, managing a project takes some forethought. To create long, or fast paced kinetic typography, it's best to consider a few things, no matter what technique you use.
1) Edit: Try to eliminate as many unnecessary words as possible.
2) Break it up: Is there a way to break the project up into small comps to simplify things? TypeMonkey will handle animation of any length, but there will be a lot of markers and layers to deal with. Unfortunately After Effects allow you to select multiple markers and drag them around like you can with
keyframes, so they need to be shifted one at a time. This could be quite tedious in long comps.
3) Pauses: Use the '^' command copiously to help break things up, both visually and temporally on the Timing Control layer.
4) Work backwards: Since AE doesn't handle markers as easily as keyframes, you won't be able to select more than one at a time. We've found that working backwards help avoid having them run into each other. Select a short section at the end of your composition, adjust it, and keep going, working torward the beginning.
5) Keep it loose: Set up the comp longer than the final project. It's much easier to adjust the markers when they're looser than when they're packed tightly together.
6) Sequence: If possible, don't start messing with timing until the layout is set. This part might take the most tweaking on more complex projects, so leave it until the others are set.
7) Think Global: Globally change the overall speed by adjusting the Duration or Stretch parameters of the Timing Control Layer, just as you would any other layer.
Since the camera is moving from the center point of one word to the next, there may be unintended consequences. We've built in a few ways around it, but you might find others. Here are some suggestions:
1) Use the | Command: In a situation where a short word is followed by a long word, vice versa, or worst case scenario, a long word is sandwiched between two short ones, the camera is prone to swing wildly from one center point to the next. By combining the words into one group, it will only see one center point.
2) Move the short word so it's closer to to the center point of the long one. One example would be to manually center the problem words. The closer they get to centered, the less distance the camera has to travel.
3) Allow for more time by increasing the space between the problem markers.
4) Play with the Camera controls (Movement, Auto Frame, Speed).
DELETING A LAYER
Don't. It will break the expressions and parenting. Either re-generate the layout, or make the text layer invisible.
At this time there seems to be an AE bug when pre-comping. An error message regarding expressions being broken will probably appear. However, by pressing OK it should still work. We're currently looking into this and have filed a bug report. The work- around is to drag the entire comp into another comp... basically manually pre-compose it.
WORKING WITH AUDIO
Dealing with lyrics and VO takes a little planning. The more key commands in the Text Box, the less moving of markers you'll have to do....which is a good thing. Insert a lot of pauses (^) after lines and on lyrics that hold.
Begin by bringing the audio track into a comp. Set the Time Span to Work Area* in the Marker Section (* Remember to set it back to include the entire comp once you are ready to render, or it will only render the lyric section).
Move the beginning of the work area (B) to just before where the typography should begin, and end (N) just after you want the type to end. TypeMonkey will distribute the copy across the length of the work area. It will start by inserting a space, not a word, and end that way as well. The fewer words to distribute, the bigger spaces between the markers. Try to place the beginning of the Work Area in anticipation of that, so the first lyric will fall into place.
Most likely you'll end up fine tuning the markers manually...but use the ^ to get as close as you can. It might be worth cleaning, adjusting the text box and rebuilding a few times to get as close as possible.
If there is an instrumental, we suggest splitting the song into multiple comps. An alternative would be to pre-comp (or drag into a new comp) and apply Time-Remap.