Creating Simple Lower Third Titles in After Effects

Creating Simple Lower Third Titles in After Effects

One of the best ways to set your video apart from the competition is to have solid lower third titles.

Lower third titles (aka lower thirds) are the titles that appear next to someone speaking on camera. They are often used in documentaries, business videos, and sometimes commercials. The purpose is to show who is speaking and usually contains a subtitle that explains who they are. This subtitle should enforce the speaker by showing that he or she is qualified to be speaking on camera.

            The name ‘lower thirds’ comes from the fact that they typically appear on the ‘lower third’ of the video frame.

Most amateur videos don’t include lower thirds or don’t take them seriously. They’ll just slap together a title and won’t care about font, size, or placement. Those three things are what make or break lower thirds.

  • Font: Choose a san serif font* that is professional and easy to read.
  • Size: The person’s name should be bigger than the person’s subheader/qualifier.
  • Placement: Typically you place the lower thirds in the negative space of the frame, either to the right or left of the speaker depending on what side of frame they are. If the speaker is frame right, the lower third should be in the lower left.**

*Sometimes serif fonts may be used but sans serif fonts are easier for you editing program to render, as well as easier for people’s brains to register!

**Some people, myself included like to get experimental with where I put my lower thirds. Sometimes I put them higher in the frame closer the speaker’s head.

Example of simple lower third titles.

Example of simple lower third titles.

Adding Effects to your Lower Thirds

Depending on the background, you may need to add a drop shadow or even a solid color behind the text so it is visible. Decrease the opacity to make it look even better! With the drop shadow, be subtle. I usually decrease the size and opacity while increasing the spread to create a nice natural look.

If you are more advanced, you can create beautiful lower thirds by adding a little motion. You can even introduce the lower thirds by flying them into the frame. Or you can add a little bit of motion while they are on the screen. Again subtlety is the key. Don’t make the move too fast!

Lastly, make sure you use the lower thirds the very first time you see a new speaker/interviewee. After that, you don’t have to have the lower thirds again. But make sure they are on the screen long enough for the viewers to register. Sometimes it is hard for viewers to listen to the speaker at the same time as reading a title on the screen.

Check out this video I created to show you how to make some beautiful lower thirds in After Effects:

I hope you enjoyed this post. Please comment below with any more tips or tricks on creating simple lower thirds. I’d love to hear from you!