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Making broadcast quality lower 3rds

For the most part when I produce lower 3rds I prefer to use a combination of applications. For the most part I use Photoshop to generate my lower 3rd background graphic bar, and Livetype to create my animated text. If I'm not using animation in my text then I just use the lower 3rd function in Final Cut.

1) Open Photoshop, go to the File menu and select New. From the resulting preset drop down menu, select the video format you are using. If you are using a format that is not listed you can create a custom setting.

2) Create a new layer and select it so your checkerboard layer is now on top. Delete the original plain white background.

3) Select the shape tool from the toolbar (shortcut U). I prefer to use the rounded rectangle. Use the tool to draw the shape of your lower 3rd background graphic and position it where you want it using the move tool.

4) You can fill the bar with color using the foreground color function in the tool bar. If you would like to use an image, animation or video for the bar, open the file in Photoshop. It will appear as a background under the layers tab. Select it and drag it into your checkerboard layer. You can manipulate the size of the image if you wish. Then position it with the move tool so that it covers the lower 3rd bar you drew. Go to layer menu at the top of the screen and select "create clipping mask". You can use your image to fill all or part of the bar.

5) You can now add lots of cool effects to your bar such as bevel and emboss, drop shadows, satin, color overlay, blend an image with the bar color and so on. Play with it until you get the look you want. You can add other shapes within the bar using the shape tool as we did in step 3. You can also add logos to your bar and then change their size to fit, using free transform (ctrl T). In my finished product below you will see that I used the FSN logo and blended it with the lower 3rd bar.

6) We're now ready to add a gradient opacity. Add a layer mask to your bar, make sure black is selected as the background color, white in the foreground, select your gradient tool and draw the gradient you want on your bar from left to right. You can play with this until you have the fade you want.

7) Save your completed bar as a .tif file. Make sure you check the transparency box when you save in order to keep the opacity properties when we come to import into Final Cut. Select 'NONE' for compression.

8) Import into Final Cut and position in the right place as we did in the simple method in the previous post. If you used the correct preset at the start of the process in Photoshop, you should not need to do much positioning.

9) Now we're going to open LiveType to create our animated text. Type the text you need in the box at the top of the screen. You don't need to bother making the text the exact size you need right now, or putting the text in the lower third of the screen.

10) Apply the font, animation, color, size, tracking, texture, glow, shadow that you want and save the resulting file to your hard-drive. I have gone with a fairly basic white font with a small drop shadow.

11) Import the file into Final Cut, bring into the sequence, and use 'Image and Wireframe' to size the text and move it to the right place on the lower 3rd bar. As usual, have the text file that you're manipulating open in the viewer and the finished result in the canvas.

As you can see, the result is fairly professional. There are many other things that you can do using this combination of software. For example, you can add animation to the bar if you have an animated logo you want to incorporate.

This is the method I most often use to achieve results for my lower 3rds. There are, of course, many other ways to create lower 3rds. If anyone has any good recommendations, I'd love to hear about them.

Reader Comments (2)

My only suggestion would be to hold the title a little longer. Industry standard is usually 5 seconds, depends on the length of the soundbite obviously, but give the viewer time as they need to listen to the talking head and also read the subjects name and title.

June 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJoeHenke24

Fantastic!! I thank you for posting this information as it has helped me TREMENDOUSLY...

October 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDizzyDoug

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