Lower thirds might seem like the least of your
considerations when you’re putting together a film, but they have the power to
make your production look smart and professional, or to annoy and frustrate.
Why Use Lower Thirds Titles
Lower thirds are often overlooked,
but in reality, it’s essential to get them right. Your lower thirds give your audience information that they aren’t getting from anywhere
else, in a visual way, usually through a combination of text and graphics. They’re
a tricky balance, they must look good, be easy to read and also complement the
visuals, giving more context to whatever is being shown on the screen.
Lower thirds are multi-purpose tool. You might be using them to
explain the name and role of an interviewee, you might want to tell your viewer
the location of your current visuals, or you might even want to give information
like the weather or a temperature.
Like so many things, if you’ve got your lower thirds right,
they shouldn’t stand out at all. Rather, they should blend into your project while
clearly conveying the information you need to get across.
How to Use Lower Thirds Titles
Keep it Simple and Clear
Being able to read them easily is probably the ‘you had one
job’ of lower thirds, so choose fonts and sizes that are easy to read. Sans-serif
fonts are considered the easiest to read, and you should avoid picking a fancy,
flouncy font and opt for a tried
and tested favourite where possible.
Your colour scheme should tie in with your film’s overall
look. Obviously, it depends on the production, but ideally try to keep lower
thirds ‘on brand’ and stick with colours that don’t make text hard to read.
Say only what you need to within your lower third. Someone you’ve
interviewed might have a number of titles, but it’s probably best to just pick
the most relevant one so you aren’t cluttering the space. Lower third
information should be readable at a glance, so that you’re not taking your viewers’
attention away from the main feature for too long.
You might have, for example, a name and a title to fit in the
same lower third. Many filmmakers choose to create a hierarchy to make reading
it easier. So, you might have the name in a larger font, above, and the title
slightly smaller, below. What you give prominence to should be the most
important part of the information you want your audience to take away.
Lower thirds don’t always have to be on the lower third of
the screen, despite the name! Ideally, you’ll balance the placement with
whatever is on the screen – you don’t want to cover up something important and you
also want to try and add some balance, visually. If you have a person on
screen, whose eye-line is a third of the way up, then you’d probably put the
lower third in the traditional place. However, if you’re demonstrating a
location and the most visually interesting parts of the shot are within that
bottom third space, you’ll probably choose to put your information at the top.
Try a Lower Thirds Template
Using a template is a great way to know you’re getting
something professionally made and presented, but that you can adjust to suit
your project. Envato
Elements has a number of great lower third templates that you can download
for a monthly subscription. Here’s an example:
Bundle for Adobe After Effects
This is a really varied
pack including 16 lower third options, so there’s something for just about
every project. They’re easy to customise, so you can change the colours and
layout to suit the needs of your project.