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Lower Thirds: A Basic Guide To What They Are And How To Use Them

Posted by: Staff Posted on

Lower thirds, which are designed to provide viewers with extra info, are an effective way of making your videos more engaging, more informative and more professional-looking. In this guide we’ll show you how to captivate your audience by using lower thirds in creative new ways.

What Are Lower Thirds?

If you don’t have a background in video, you might not have heard of lower thirds before. But you’ll definitely have seen them.

Lower thirds, which are sometimes referred to as L3s, are text-based animations – or in their most basic form, just text – that appear, unsurprisingly, in the lower third area of a video.

As noted in the intro, the main purpose for including them is to provide viewers with additional information and detail – and in a way that is discreet.

You are most likely to see lower thirds on news channels, documentaries and during a live sports broadcast, where they are used to tell you a range of things. This includes names, titles and occupations (or roles); dates and times; locations … well, you get the picture.

Before you start editing lower thirds into your videos, however, there are a few things you need to know.

Lower Thirds Basics

Here are few things to consider when using a lower third.

Style

Shapeless lower third templates consist of straightforward text. It’s very important to pick the right font as you won’t be relying on a background box. You don’t want your text to be hard to read.

Simple lower thirds incorporate shapes, which look more stylised, professional and eye-catching.

Stylised lower thirds have custom backgrounds, shapes and logos, and are often animated.

The most important thing is to keep your lower thirds in line with your brand guidelines.

Colour

When creating lower thirds, be sure to incorporate your brand’s colours. However, don’t use colour combinations that clash, are distracting or blend into the video’s imagery because it makes the text hard to read.

Typography

Be consistent and use your brand’s font where you can. If this doesn’t work, don’t worry. You will not go far wrong with a clear, legible font. Just make sure you’re consistent in your usage.

Size

Make sure your lower third is large enough to read, but also small enough so that it doesn’t distract viewers from the content. Keep it visible but subtle.

Position

Traditionally, lower thirds are located in the lower third of the screen, but they don’t have to be – just make sure that when you do use them, wherever you position them, they don’t cover the main subject or object of a video.

Duration

While this depends on how much text your lower third contains, as a general rule, the shorter the better. After all, you want your audience to focus on the video. If your lower third is a presenter’s name, three seconds should be sufficient.

Animated Lower Thirds

Animated lower thirds are very effective at keeping viewers engaged by providing essential and useful information in a more dynamic way. Here are some ways you can use lower thirds creatively.

Speech Bubbles

These are great for fiction, comedy, and entertainment videos. Why not use lower thirds to convey a character’s inner thoughts in text speech bubbles?

Extra Tips

If you have lots to say and share in a video, lower thirds can help you pack in more content without adding more screen time. After all, with attentions pans diminishing by the second – well, that’s what it feels like, keeping your videos short and sweet is important.

Tickertape Feeds

These take the previous idea to the next level. Instead of highlighting just one or two sentences, use a tickertape feed that has information continuously scrolling across the bottom of the screen.

Repurposing

Repurposing content for different platforms is a great way to help your videos go further. So, if you’re editing shorter versions of your video for Instagram or Twitter, put some of the ‘lost content’ back in as a lower third.

Subscribe Reminders

Get more followers by asking new viewers to subscribe. You can do this easily with a lower third at the end of your video. Make sure you spend time on the wording – a strong call to action will make all the difference.

Fact-Checking

If you are streaming a debate or opinion-based content, lower thirds can be used to factcheck the views expressed and keep the reporting transparent.

Supporting Stats And Data

Back your content up with great data by adding in supporting statistics with engaging lower thirds.

Original Artist Credits   

When reviewing or displaying other people’s work, use lower thirds to credit the original creator.

Prices

If you’re reviewing a product or doing a product demo, adding prices in lower thirds can help increase conversions and boost sales – especially if you’re offering them a discount.

Hot Take: Nothing Ventured Nothing Gained

When it comes to using lower thirds creatively, don’t be afraid to experiment and take risks. Think outside the box and consider how text and graphics can be used to make your video message hit home.

The examples above should provide some inspiration, but you can always invent innovative new ways to use lower thirds. If you want to try something radical, consider variant testing your video to see if the audience responds.

Key Takeaways

Lower thirds can be used to communicate almost anything, from a job title to a quote and even the weather. If you’re not sure whether to use a lower third, consider the importance of the information being conveyed. It’s not unusual for names to be misheard or videos to be played on mute so a visual reminder can come in handy.


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