What is text animation?

“Text animation” is a broad term in computer graphics that refers to creating moving letters, words, or paragraphs. In animation, it is related to creating text that moves in some way across the screen, within an area, or following a pattern of movement. A less frequently used meaning is in the context of an animation that is created using only text characters, so that each of the animation elements is made up of letters, numbers, punctuation marks, or other symbols. There are a wide range of special effects that can be used with text animation, many of which are identical to traditional three-dimensional (3D) animation effects and two-dimensional (2D) image filters. In professional films and videos, television programs and presentations, text is often animated to create interesting transitions from one topic to another or to accentuate important information.

Woman with hand on waist

Two similar but essentially different methods can be used to create text animation with computer graphics applications. The first employs a 3D modeling program that contains a 3D model of each of the letters, which are then placed in virtual space with the correct kerning and spacing. These letters can be animated in the same way any 3D object is animated, including visual effects such as texture mapping, rotations, transformation, and inverse kinetics, to make the individual parts of a letter or word appear to move organically.

Another method used to create text animation is through a vector-based graphics program. These programs store the information needed to draw a letter or font at any resolution and in any style, such as bold or italic. Animation is primarily achieved through the use of paths or Bézier curves along which text moves at a set frame rate. Much of the math behind vector graphics is identical to the algorithms used for 3D animation, so there is sometimes a blur of the lines between vector-based and 3D text animation.

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Some office suites include basic text animation functionality that can be used to create motion in a slideshow or other type of presentation. These effects are often pre-programmed and very basic, like text entering one side of the screen and then stopping in the center. One benefit of using text animation from an office suite is ease of use and portability, because an actual animation sequence doesn’t have to be saved, rendered frame by frame, and then played back.

In HyperText Markup Language ( HTML ), text can be animated through the use of JavaScript® and Cascading Style Sheets ( CSS ). This can be done by modifying the properties of a block of text, changing its position over time so that it appears to move or scroll. In HTML itself, the checkmark can be used to create a line of scrolling text on a web page. Finally, separate programs or embedded streaming media can also be used to show moving text.

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