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Lower Thirds

Theme
Software
Things to Remember

One of the most under appreciated components of video production has to be the lower third. Getting its name from its most common position in the lower third of the screen, lower thirds act as a plate to display information, whilst usually the name and roles of persons participating in interviews, they are also used to display locations, sports scores and whole plethora of other data.

Lower thirds, like many components of video production, measure their success through subtlety. The ideal lower third will catch peoples attention and allow them to read the provided information easily whilst not distracting too much from the content itself. communication before design.

Theme

Whilst a lower third can be nothing more than a black rectangle and still be quite effective. The use of themes can help to place the graphic more naturally in your production. If your subject is the beach, perhaps a slightly wavy design and a texture that resembles water or sand.

Below are examples of lower thirds from three of our most recent productions.

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1. Light in winter was a production that we undertook with Federation Square in Melbourne, This was a part of their 'Light in Winter' festival. As you could likely guess one of the main themes of this festival was light. Hoping to bring some 'light' theming into our lower third we opted integrate a still from the launch night, which we colorised to blue and animated slightly to add interest. Finally we added the blue light ball that featured heavily in the video itself, this was brought in as a brief flash as the lower third appears.

2. Reframing Culture was originally a three part video that was filmed and edited at the Regional Arts Australia Conference in Goolwa during 2012. The biggest challenge with this particular production was the heavy time constraints. The conference ran for 3 days, we were required to film and edit one of the parts each day having it ready to be viewed the following morning. In this instance we opted to have a simple eye pleasing, subtly textured lower third that could be easily adapted in case quick changes would be required.

3. The documentary 'Flow: life giving lands and waters'. The doco was about water, so we went with a 'watery' looking effect.

click below to see the lower thirds in action.

Software

Like most components of video production there is no set tool that has to be used. Lower thirds can easily be made in almost every video editing software. The capabilities of different software will vary though, some will only allow you to make very simple lower thirds whilst other are equipped with advances presets allowing you to generating good looking animated lower thirds in seconds.
You choice of tools will depend largely on what you have available and what you hope to achieve.

Whilst preset in software will allow you to get the job done very quickly, it is unlikely that you will get a huge amount of control over the final product and there will always be a chance that you'll see your exact lower thirds in someone else's film.

If you do have access to compositing program like Adobe's 'After Effects' or Apple's 'Motion' there are virtually no limits to what can be created, with the tradeoff that more time and learning will be required.

In the video below i will run through the creation of a simple lower third animation and how to correctly export it.

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Things to Remember

• Turn on the "title safe" and "action safe" views in your software. This will show you how close to the edge of the screen screen you can get with your graphics before you run the risk of having it cropped by certain televisions.

• When prototyping lower thirds, it's a good idea to either get screenshot or small video clip of the footage it will eventually sit on. Use this as a background for your tests, there is nothing worse than building a great looking lower third and then finding it doesn't work with the final footage.

• If your making your lower thirds outside of your editing software you will need to export them in a format that supports 'alpha' channels.