How to Animate a Text Messaging Scene in After Effects

text messaging in after effects

In this video tutorial we’ll be setting up and animating a text messaging scene in After Effects.

Although this animation seems simple at first (it’s just boxes moving vertically, how hard can that be?!) what’s going on behind the scenes takes a little more effort to give the animation a more realistic look without manually keyframing.

Go on this learning journey with me as we visit the sometimes frustrating land of shape layers and blast off in to the galaxy of expressions. I am so ready for a vacation right now, can you tell?

Here’s the expressions code to paste on the Null layer’s Y position:

move02=linear(thisComp.layer("Box02").transform.scale[0], 0, 100,
.content("Group 1").content("Rectangle 1").content("Rectangle Path 1").size[1]);

move03=linear(thisComp.layer("Box03").transform.scale[0], 0, 100,
.content("Rectangle 1").content("Rectangle Path 1").size[1]);

move04=linear(thisComp.layer("Box04").transform.scale[0], 0, 100,
.content("Group 1").content("Rectangle 1").content("Rectangle Path 1").size[1]);


Here’s the Inertial Bounce expression used to create that bouncy effect on the rotation of each box:
amp = .4;

freq = 2.0;
decay = 2.0;
n = 0;
if (numKeys > 0){
n = nearestKey(time).index;
if (key(n).time > time){
if (n == 0){ t = 0;
t = time - key(n).time;
if (n > 0){
v = velocityAtTime(key(n).time - thisComp.frameDuration/10);
value + v*amp*Math.sin(freq*t*2*Math.PI)/Math.exp(decay*t);

Looks like too much work?
You might be thinking- what’s the difference between this tutorial and the text messaging template sold at the site?

The main difference is that the After Effects template has everything configured- box animation, slider controls, etc, so all you have to do is type in your conversation, adjust the boxes and maybe adjust the animation with some slider controls. Plus the template has 40 text boxes already linked together so you can make a super long texting animation.

I hope you found this tutorial helpful and that you learned something useful you can apply to your animations in the future!

Marissa Joyner

Owner, creator of, providing easy to use Adobe After Effects templates around the web since 2007.

Yes, that’s right. Almost 10 years!

When not living inside After Effects you can find me playing with my crazy kids and exploring Austin, TX.

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