How to Create Matte Text Animations in After Effects
Matte Text Animations Tutorial Cover Image.jpg

Check out all the ways you can create text animation with matting in After Effects. Tutorial includes free project file!

In this tutorial, we'll explore different ways of text animation using track mats in After Effects. We are going to learn what a track mat is and how we can use it to create various text animations.

Ready for the tutorial? Let's go! Be sure to download the free project file!

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What is a track mat?

Track mats, also known as mats, create a “section” from another shape. The cut shape can be a graphic, text, or even footage. Let's see how this would work with text in After Effects.

An example of how a simple text track mat works.

First we start with some text and then use that text as a matte. This gives us a perfect “excerpt” from our original text form. We can then add effects and footage behind this text mat to create our text animation.

Create a simple matte text animation

Let's start by creating a simple matte text animation. First, create some text in your After Effects Composition. Next, create one solid layer and put it under the text layer. (The color of the solid can be any color. It serves as the background.)

Alpha Inverted MatteSet the on the fixed plane Track mat Option too Alpha Inverted Matte.

Then under that Track mat Options, put the fixed level on Alpha Inverted Matte. (If you don't see the Track Matte options, toggle F4 on your keyboard.) The visible text should now appear transparent. This is because we have now created a matte "cutout" of the text on the solid layer.

Transparent textThe text is now transparent.

Now we can place animated scribble material below the solid layer. (The scribble footage is included in the project file.)

Scribble the footageScribble animation clip.

We can see through the cut out text on the solid layer and see the scribble footage animated on it. This again shows the shape of our original text!

Scribble matte animationThe scribble animation now shows the original text outline.

You don't have to limit your text mats to just motion graphics or animations. You can also place real footage behind mats for a creative look.

Footage behind text matteYou can use real footage behind the text mat.

You can even add effects and textures to the footage. In this example I am using the Camera lens blur Effect on my footage, along with a grainy texture. This opens the door to easily creating different text looks.

Footage with effectsExperiment with effects and textures behind the matte layer.

Creative matte text animations to try out

You can also make a second copy of your original matte text and place it under the matte solid layer. Then you can offset the movement of the text below the other layers to create an interesting reveal animation.

Offset shows text animationOffsetting a duplicate copy of the original text layer used for the matte.

Finally, you can experiment with 3D parallax on your matte text. To do this, fix your text and the mat 3D planesThen add more layers behind it. Make these layers 3D too and move them back further at various distances.

Levels in 3D space3D background layers at different distances from the matte layer.

Now create a 3D camera and keyframe for subtle motion animation. You can see matt like a window through your text and thus achieve a neat parallax depth effect.

3D parallaxExample of a 3D parallax.

Interested in the royalty-free tracks we made this video with? Listen again:

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