I’ve been doing motion design work for about 3 years now, and I usually design lower thirds and name graphics for events where it will display the person’s name and title. In most cases, there are several names I’ll have to design for. And this can become quite tricky because of all the different name and title variations.
Some names and titles are very short, where others can become quite long. So how do we design them so that they are consistent no matter what the lengths are? I’ve done some research as well as some trial and error experiments, and have gathered some ideas to make motion designing more streamlined.
After Effects Expressions
You’ll especially run across text size issues if you try to use an existing After Effects template from popular websites such as Videoblocks and Digital Juice. The graphic shape area is only so large, and you are forced to make the name and title smaller, creating an inconsistent design. When you can, it is best to design it yourself in After Effects.
So how do we try to work around this issue? One process I learned is based on an expression in After Effects. It is called “sourceRectAtTime” This nifty expression conforms a shape’s width to the width of the text. So the shape will adjust automatically to fit the length of the text.
I learned about this tip from ukramedia. Below is a video on how it works as well as many other expressions that are helpful inside After Effects. To skip ahead to sourceRectAtTime, go to 7:03.
Expressions are very powerful, but they can become quite confusing and time consuming to set up correctly. If expressions aren’t your thing, no problem! I have some other tips as well that can streamline text lengths.
Longest Text Is Key
One of the first things I do when I start creating lower thirds is to take the longest text and place it into the template. Design the template based on the longest text because if it works for the longest text, then everything else should fit.
The only thing that may have to be adjusted is the width of smaller text. And if anything, it is easier to make text larger than try to make the design larger to fit the text.
This doesn’t just have to go for motion graphics. I find this tip helpful in graphic design as well. Such as business cards and flyers. Designing to the largest text has worked for me in a lot of areas.
Another trick for long titles is to use a condensed font such as Oswald or Bebas Neue. This will help contain the long text because the width of each character is condensed.
You might not always be allowed to do this though, depending on your client and if there are certain fonts you have to use. But when given the freedom, this trick can save you a lot of horizontal space.
A Consistent Design
By using expressions, the longest text, and condensed fonts, you should be able to create a consistent template for your next project. I hope you find this useful. If you have a trick that you’d like to share, feel free to comment below. Thanks for reading!