Advanced Video Editing

After Effects
Creating a Basic Lower Third

We'll stick to a very basic lower third, but there is always room to add your own creativity.

Step 1: Create a New Composition

1920 x 1080 resolution, 29.97 fps and a Duration of 8 seconds will be fine.

Click on Title Safe so the grids become visible in the Composition. Use the grids as a guide.

Click the Toggle Transparency Grid at the bottom of the Composition window. The checkered pattern indicates that you have what is called an Alpha Channel, which means that it will be transparent when you place the Lower Third on top of a piece of video.

Step 2: Create a Shape

Double-click the Rectangle Shape in the Tool palette. Double-clicking the tool is another way to apply the shape, but it will be the same size as the Composition. Go to Fill and select Linear Gradient and change the colour. Don't worry about adding a Stroke. 

Now, pull the handles to reshape and scale down box  – this shape will be for the text background. Rename the solid – Text Background. 

You might have a Text Background similar to the one pictured below. Try to position the Text Background within the Title Safe grid as much as you can. 

Select the Text tool and apply the text directly on top of the Text Background. Type a name and then highlight it. In the Character panel - it's a tab to the right of the Composition, change the name to a desired font and size. Use the Selection tool to position the name where you want it in the box. Use the up/down, left/right arrows on the keyboard to position the name precisely. 

Drop Shadow
Text appears more prominently if you use a Drop Shadow effect. It's not required, but sometimes it also adds a sense of depth to the text. To apply a Drop Shadow, go to the Effects & Preset tab (right of the Composition) and type Drop Shadow in the search field. Then drag the effect to your Text layer. In the Effects controls (located as a tab in the Project Panel), adjust the shadow to your desired appearance. 

Create a second Text for the attribution, i.e., the person's position or title. Apply it below the name and make it a smaller font. You can even use a different font if you want.

If you want to get really fancy, try adding a logo to your lower thirds. The effect is complete when seen over the interview shot.

You can try other variations, applying a second shape and changing its colour or shading. Below are examples showing a few ways you can vary the design from just a basic lower third.

Try animating the lower third. But wait... there are a lot of elements that you need to animate. What if you could animate all of them at once? You can when you use a Null Object.

Go the lesson on Using Null Objects to learn more!