It means that your font encoding is not recognized, which could be a simple compatibility problem - AE 7 is not officially compatible with Win 7/ Win 8 or even Win Vista. That said, if it worked before chances are that your CS5.5 uninstall removed some shared component that worked magic like parts of the font system. Reinstalling it therefore might fix the issue.
Thank you Mylenium for the response.
I had not yet uninstalled CS5.5 when the error began. The only thing I can think of that changed (since it last worked) was the CS5.5 trial ended. Could it be that disabled something on the system that is being used by other programs? The other option is that an Apple software update changed something. That is all that I can think of, this is on a Mac running OSX. I only use this system for Final Cut and AE. Otherwise I really don't use Apple, it is a dedicated system.
Now that I have a paying job that needs AE, I have to turn the work down. Especiale Bummer in this economy.
So if there is something mysterious going on with the fonts, surely there is a way to locate and repair it(?!?!) Can I uninstall the fonts and reinstall them? Should I reinstall AE CS5.5?
I'm thinking there are hundreds of people who have experienced this, but every instance I can find on the web, there is no final resolution. I don't want to let this go like that as it slips silently into the darkness. Someone please help find a solution,
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Mmh, Macs are evil.... Could indeed be that some system update broke some internal stuff. just like on Windows, AE 7 is not really compatible with the latest versions of OSX. A notorious issue has been OSX messing around with the Verdana font that is used by Adobe apps for instance. That might be a place to start - download it from Microsoft, reinstall. Otherwise you might try the usual troubleshooting - remove all fonst from your system until the bare minimum is left, try to log in as a new user or even enable the root user, trash the AE prefs, perhaps change your system screen resolution and flush out the system font caches with a tool like OnyX.
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A good font manager for Mac can find and repair corrupted fonts. I find that most font errors come right after installing a new app. It can happen with almost any app. Fortunately for me It's never caused more than a couple of minutes trouble. I use FontExplorer X Pro and love it. There are several good ones.
I wanted to follow up and say I found and fixed the problem. It was a font and removing it allowed AE7 to start up. Basically I just looked for the font that had the latest date on it. Within FontBook (Apple app) there is an option that tested the font and found a problem with it so that also verified. Many thanks to Mylenium and Rick Gerard for your assistance.