How to Create a Custom Video Intro for YouTube

Learn how to create a custom video intro for YouTube and any other streaming service using TechSmith Assets and Camtasia.

It’s difficult to overstate the power of a great video intro sequence. Think about some of the most popular TV shows in history. The Simpsons, Friends, and Game of Thrones, among many others, may come to mind. One thing all three of these shows have in common are iconic intro sequences.

But a custom video intro is more than just a fun and eye-catching way to start a TV show or video. It is a visual and auditory signature that confirms to the audience the content and experience they’re about to see.

With the power to create a great video now available to everyone, making an eye-catching, custom video intro is something anyone can do.

Here’s what to consider and how you can create your own custom video intro for YouTube or any other video platform.

One metric to rule them all (for video intros)

Ring from Lord of the Rings.

Before you start creating, there is an important metric to understand that will help you plan a successful intro sequence. This is especially true when it comes to the duration and the content you display. The one metric more important than all the others is engagement (also referred to as “audience retention”).

Video engagement is a measurement of the average amount of a video each viewer watches, normally expressed as a percentage or in a graph. The goal of your intro is to keep engagement as high as possible. A good intro will have no negative impact on engagement.

We use the engagement metric at TechSmith to determine if our intros are doing their job. Both the Camtasia and Snagit tutorials have a quick, visual intro sequence that takes just a few seconds.

The goal is simply to show users they’ve come to the right source for TechSmith tutorials and then move into the content.

Here’s the intro that we use on every Snagit tutorial video:

The intro takes about six seconds to play. Now, take a look at the engagement graph of the Snagit tutorial for Combine Images. The blue line shows the average engagement percentage of everyone who has watched the video, while the orange signifies engagement for people that have watched more than once.

The first few seconds (highlighted in the image) has a very subtle, smooth decline with engagement staying close to 100 percent. This shows that very few viewers are leaving while the intro plays. The intro is doing its job.

Engagement through the beginning of your video plays a big role in whether viewers will continue to watch. In 2016, Facebook found that 45 percent of users that watched the first three seconds of a video will stick around for another 30 seconds. A good intro makes a big difference.

Given the three-second to thirty-second watch phenomenon, a good intro sequence should likely be around three to five seconds long. This should be enough time to display a title, some brand colors or imagery like logos, and show a quick sequence of action. Then, transition into the meat of your video.

With these parameters in mind, let’s start creating a custom YouTube video intro.

Plan your intro and collect content

The first thing to do is determine the goal of the intro, what you wish to convey, and whether or not this is a one-off or a series where you plan to use the intro for several videos. The more you plan to use this intro, the more time you can put into it. You’ll also want to make sure to follow some video best practices like using easy to read fonts and keeping things relatively simple.

When you’re ready to start creating, you have a choice to make. You can create an intro sequence from scratch or use a customizable template.

An intro made from scratch usually requires some combination of designing graphics, shooting video, animating, and editing. This can lead to a great finished product, but it can also be a time consuming and challenging process.

The second option is to use a customizable video template, which speeds things up and makes following those best practices a little easier.

TechSmith Assets provides hundreds of thousands of video assets that can be used in Camtasia, including stock video, images, music, lower thirds, outros, and, of course, intros.

All of the templates have a combination of colors, animations, text, and spaces to include your own logo that can be customized to your liking.

Download a template that you’d like to customize.

If you’re ready to work in Camtasia right away, click the “Open in Camtasia” button to send it right to the Library. Check out this tutorial for more on downloading Camtasia assets.

Customize your template

For this example, I downloaded a template intro called “Travel” from TechSmith Assets. Here is what the original template looks like.

If you need easy-to-use video editing software, Camtasia is a great video maker for creating professional videos.

Best of all, you can try it for free.

Once you’ve downloaded your intro template, find it in your Camtasia Library or by clicking the download menu and choosing the template file.

Then, drag the template to the Camtasia timeline and make sure it is selected.

Cursor dragging template to place it on the Camtasia timeline.

Go to the Properties panel where the Quick Properties tab is displayed. The Quick Properties let you quickly and easily change the text, colors, and the logo in your intro.

Here are the default settings for the intro I downloaded:

Asset properties panel with default properties.

Depending on the template you’re using, you will see options to change the text in the template, add your own logo, and select colors. Here is what the quick properties look like for my template after customizing them and adding a new logo.

Customized asset properties

Here is what the completed, customized intro now looks like.

Save your customized intro to the library

Ideally, a custom intro can be re-used in a number of videos or a series. To make this easy, save it to the Library. Right-click it on the Camtasia timeline and choose Add to Library.

Cursor selecting Add to Library in context menu.

Then choose a name and where you’d like to save it. This way you can access it when working on any project and simply change the text or other settings if necessary.

Share the intro with teammates

Many times people work in teams on videos or video series. If that’s the case, you’ll want to export and share the custom content you create. Right-click the intro you saved to the Library and choose Export Asset.

Cursor selecting Export Asset.

This will let you name and export a .libzip file that can be shared with teammates and colleagues for use in their projects.

A standard intro is an ideal way to start your videos. It makes the opening easier to edit and adds a level of professionalism that viewers, even if they don’t realize it, appreciate.

It’s also not hard to create one with the right tools. When you’re ready, head over to TechSmith Assets and download an intro template to start working on your own.

Guy Larcom

Guy Larcom is an Instructional Designer with the Marketing Team at TechSmith. Outside of making awesome screencasts and tutorials, he loves golfing and skiing.

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