Free Lower Thirds plus Additional Resources [updated]
Leverage Photoshop, Premiere, and After Effects
By Rich Young | June 24, 2011
There are a ton of resources on lower thirds. Here's a sampling of some free templates and tutorials that help leverage or create them in After Effects, Photoshop, and Premiere -- and some to automate their production.
In Design Your Own Broadcast Lower Thirds at AEtuts+, Stefan Surmabojov uses simple built-in tools like masks, gradients, shadows and bevels in After Effects to create a broadcast quality lower third design.
If you don't like the free templates that come with your NLE (think Premiere), these might come in handy... Video Copilot has some free templates for TV news-style lower thirds in Free News Templates.
To leverage what you've got, Andrew Devis posted Using & Creating Title Templates in Premiere, and if you need a jump start in After Effects, Kevin McAuliffe has AE From The Ground Up - Chapter 1 Lesson 1. Richard Harrington covers Premiere (Making Lower Thirds) and Photoshop in Lower Thirds (3 parts), Designing Lower Third Graphics (2 parts), and Making Lower Thirds (2 parts). The process had been straightforward in Final Cut, except for the lame text plug-ins. For the old Final Cut, these free filters were handy: Andy's Basic Text by Andy Mess and Lower Third by Alex Gollner.
Artbeats provided an After Effects tutorial video, Lower Thirds in Half the Time by Steve Holmes, and Ninja Crayon had a funny take on a newish Artbeats collection in Artbeats Lower Thirds?
There are several more tutorials on lower thirds on Adobe TV, one from Motionworks, Transparent Graphics in After Effects from Post Fifth Pictures, and relevant stuff by Alan Shisko in Making It Look Great 2 and Edgy Glints.
To generate things in mass, Adam Everett Miller has a workflow tutorial on AEtuts, Enough Lower Thirds To Feed A Small Country, which uses the well-documented CompsfromSpreadsheet script by Mike Cardeiro from AE Scripts.
Previous to this script, Dale Bradshaw developed a script (CSV to Text Layers) posted at his blog Creative Workflow Hacks in How to use a spreadsheet to generate Lower Thirds, Slates, Titles, etc. in After Effects. It was later updated for CS5.
Also, Harry Frank and others developed expressions for similar tasks; see Expressions and External Documents and Expressions and External Documents - Revised for CS4. These posts generated a good amount of use and follow-ups in their comments; also Lloyd Alvarez commented on a review by Ryan Ragle:
"While expressions are great because they are constantly dynamic, one of the downfalls of using them is that they need to be evaluated every frame in time which can become an exponential rendering problem when you have many layers with many expressions on each one. This particular problem of versioning I think is better solved with a script which only needs to be evaluated once at run-time."
Update: see also the book excerpt from Jarle Leirpoll, Spreadsheets to Lower Thirds in Premiere, and Spreadsheets to Lower Thirds in Premiere from Eric Addison.
See too A CSV Text Data Plugin for FCPX/Motion 5 for "a small plugin for FCPX/Motion 5 that will allow you to import a CSV file to create text plates for things like slates, lower thirds, and titles. FCPX continues to be a work in progress and I have the same reaction as most people. Seems powerful, but where's x, y, and z? In the short term we seem to have lost a lot of data in xml transfers so I was looking for a way to populate slates in my projects without a lot of typing and this seemed to fit the bill. This is the first public release so don't use it in sensitive production projects until the plugin is battle tested because the project format for arbitrary data seems somewhat fragile and it seems easier to corrupt FCPX project files..."
Later, Lynda.com released Premiere Pro and After Effects: Creating Title Graphics with Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer, which "covers building and modifying text animation presets, using shape layers to create graphic elements, and establishing dynamic connections between After Effects and Premiere Pro using the Dynamic Link feature. The course also includes design and workflow suggestions." You can find the same short course on PVC, in Using After Effects as an Advanced Titler for Premiere Pro.
Get articles like this in your inbox: Sign Up