Modern video editing softwares come with so many features and complicated user interfaces that can make video editing seem like a complex task — so much so that it can intimidate those diving in for the first time.
While video editing has the potential to be complicated (they wouldn’t give out Oscars if it was always easy!), it doesn’t have to be. The hardest part for anyone new to the process is often knowing where to start.
Now we have a whole step-by-step guide on how to edit videos, but the first job of a video editor is to ensure that the audience only sees what they need to see to focus their attention. This means streamlining information and making it as easy as possible for your viewers to absorb.
In other words, you want to get the information across without making things too complicated. One way to simplify your content is through a lower third – giving your audience the information they need without making things too cluttered.
What is a lower third? It’s a graphic that’s layered with text and, as the name suggests, it sits in the lower part of the screen. If you’ve ever watched TV (who hasn’t?) then you’ve probably seen one without even realizing it!
Editors often add lower thirds to videos to provide a point of reference to the audience, such as the speaker’s name and profession, or a situation and location. The most common places you may have seen a lower third is during a newscast, documentary, or instructional video.
Having a lower third in your video can provide valuable information to your audience while keeping the content simple but engaging. Below are some examples of videos with lower thirds that were used in an effective way.
What’s a Lower Third in a Video?
A lower third is like the unsung hero of video storytelling. At its core, it’s a fusion of text and graphic elements strategically positioned in the bottom section of a video screen. While its name might hint at it consuming a third of the screen space, that’s not always the case.
You can think of lower thirds as sidekicks. They are to footage what Robin is to Batman, or Samwise to Frodo. They don’t grab the spotlight, but they are pivotal to the narrative.
If you’ve ever watched a documentary and instantly knew the person’s name and role, then you’ve experienced the magic of a well-executed lower third. Without it, you’d likely be scratching your head, trying to figure out who’s who.
The brilliance of a lower third isn’t in its ability to convey details but in its subtlety. The best lower thirds should integrate with the video seamlessly. If your video has a specific mood or branding, the lower third should echo it, complementing the content rather than pulling focus.
In essence, the best lower thirds are those that deliver crucial info while maintaining the video’s aesthetic harmony. Whether it’s a talk show, corporate presentation, or even a YouTube video, the best lower thirds ensure your audience is informed, not overwhelmed.
What are the Different Elements of a Lower Third?
The colors you choose for your lower third can make or break its effectiveness. While it may be tempting to focus solely on aesthetics, it’s crucial to steer clear of overly vibrant or bold colors.
Consistency is key, so it’s best to align with the hues of a logo or brand, sticking predominantly to a duo of colors. Opting for a shade that plays well with the video’s background ensures your message stands out without overshadowing the primary content.
Finding the right font is paramount in conveying your video’s tone but it’s important that your chosen typeface prioritizes clarity over flair, ensuring that your audience can effortlessly absorb the information. Moreover, brevity is your ally so try to aim for a succinct text that delivers the message without excess.
It’s also worth noting that the weight and style of your font will have an impact. While bold typefaces can highlight crucial points, slender ones might offer a touch of sophistication.
Animation can breathe life into your lower thirds, but moderation is key.
While it’s possible to animate elements like text, logos, and shapes, it’s essential to strike the right balance. Animations often shine in intros, outros, or transitions, offering a dynamic touch to the video. Ask yourself: does the animation enhance the message or distract from it?
Size and Position
Believe it or not, positioning your lower third isn’t a one-size-fits-all deal. While the name suggests it belongs at the bottom, there’s no strict rule — what’s more important is to consider the context.
Depending on where your subject is positioned in the frame, you might need to reconsider the placement of your text or graphic. If your subject’s gaze rests in the upper third of the screen, positioning their name in the lower third can balance the composition.
Try to ensure your designs are within a title-safe area, so they don’t obstruct key visuals. Proper alignment and sizing will ensure viewers receive the information without needing to actively look for it.
Shapes and Logos
If you’re creating a video for a company, you’ll probably have a clear style guide to refer to. However, there’s often room for a little creative freedom in choosing complementary shapes.
While often overlooked, shapes can act as backdrops or accents, enhancing both logos and text. The right geometric touch can elevate the design, ensuring the brand identity remains intact while adding the perfect amount of visual intrigue.
Video Lower Third Explanation
When to Use Lower Thirds in Videos?
While lower thirds can do a lot to elevate your video’s messaging, knowing when to use them is key. So, let’s take a quick look at some of the most opportune moments to add lower thirds to your videos:
- Introducing a New Face: Whenever a fresh speaker graces the screen, you can use a lower third to introduce them to your audience.
- Branding Moments: Keeping your brand present and memorable is essential. A strategically timed lower third with your company logo can subtly imprint your brand into the viewer’s memory.
- Offering Context: Diving into a dense topic? If there’s a keyword or a pivotal point that demands attention, a lower third can underscore its importance.
- Visual Reinforcement: While the spoken word has its strength, combining it with a visual cue in the form of a lower third can accentuate the message, aiding recall and comprehension.
The beauty of lower thirds lies in their ability to add depth to the narrative while guiding the audience through the story. However, the secret is in using them thoughtfully.
How to Make a Lower Third?
Creating your own lower third doesn’t have to be complicated. With the right tools, you can easily create a simple lower third that will give your video the finishing touches it needs to pull your story together.
In the following tutorial, we’ll be using TechSmith’s Camtasia to create a lower third for our video. Camtasia is a comprehensive editing suite that’s perfect for professional video editors and beginners alike.
If you don’t already have Camtasia, you can download a free trial here, which might be a good way to try creating your own lower third.
Step 1: Import media
Begin by importing your media into the Media Bin on the left side of the screen. Once imported, drag the media into the blank canvas.
Step 2: Add shapes and text
On the left side of the screen, click on the Annotations tab. Under the Callouts section, drag a shape (commonly rectangular) and adjust the size accordingly. Lower thirds are typically placed to the left and rarely go across the entire screen.
By double-clicking on the default text, you can enter the words you want to appear in your lower third. Then, by accessing the Properties tab on the right side, you can adjust the color and opacity, depending on personal preference and how well they complement the video.
Step 3: Make your text move
On the same toolbar as the Annotations tab, you’ll see the Behaviors tab. By clicking on it, you can add simple animations to the lower third as it enters and exits the screen. Drag your preferred behavior down to the editor at the bottom of the screen.
Again, you can make further adjustments in the Properties tab.
Tips to Make an Amazing Lower Third
Make it readable
We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: The primary purpose of a lower third is to convey information, so it’s crucial that viewers can easily read your text.
Ensure there’s enough contrast between the lower third and the video background. For instance, if your video is quite dark, opt for a brighter lower third. The location and the choice of font also play pivotal roles in enhancing readability.
Remember, always aim for clarity over decoration. Your audience cares much more about the information than how it’s presented.
Choose the right font
When selecting a font for your lower third, aim for consistency with your current branding. If you’re already leveraging a particular font in your graphics, it’s usually best to maintain consistency.
Generally speaking, sans-serif fonts are a popular choice for lower thirds as they look modern and are easy to read.
The traditional placement of a lower third (in the bottom third of the screen) may complement footage of someone speaking on camera because it provides visual balance. However, as we’ve mentioned, there are no strict rules for placing your lower third.
For example, if your footage deviates from a speaking close-up, you have a bit more flexibility in where you place it. Wherever you decide, try to ensure it’s not too near the screen’s edge to maintain clarity and aesthetic appeal.
Use your brand colors and style
By keeping your brand’s visual elements consistent across platforms, be it streaming or social media, will help fortify your brand’s presence and build recognition among your audience.
If your brand colors and style are yet to be determined, you might want to prioritize this step before creating your lower third. Your branding choices should mirror your brand’s ethos, captivate your target audience, and fit into your content’s domain.
Complement your content
A lower third’s role is to weave context into your video without stealing the spotlight. Your audience should be engaged with the content, not sidetracked by overly elaborate graphics.
While lower thirds are valuable tools, they’re the backup singers, not the lead. Always lean towards clean, straightforward designs for optimal effectiveness.
Choose a creation method
There are plenty of ways to create lower thirds for your video content.
- Design Your Own: Creating your own lower thirds with Camtasia is super quick and easy — especially as we’ve outlined the steps in this post!
- Template Magic: If you’re low on time, or can’t get it to look quite how you want it to, Camtasia offers a wide range of lower third video templates that you can download and customize.
This offers the flexibility of tweaking ready-made designs to align better with your branding.
- Hire a Pro: We’ve given you the knowledge and we’re providing you with templates. We couldn’t make it any easier for you if we tried, but a professional designer might…
If you value pristine aesthetics and are willing to invest, hiring a professional might be an alternative to creating your own lower thirds.
However you decide to move forward in creating your lower third, you should consider your budget, your desired aesthetic, and how comfortable you are with visual design and achieving the desired look and feel for your content.