Video Tutorial: How to Make a News Ticker in After Effects
This lower third element is commonly found on news channels—bits of information via a crawling text. Let’s create it in After Effects.
This dynamic graphic element consists of a logo, a text crawl, and a lower third. The technique I’ll be using to recreate this requires using shape layers, text elements, and a few simple expressions. As this is a more advanced tutorial, I’ll break it down step-by-step.
The Logo Bar
Once inside of After Effects, I’ll create a New > Composition, set it to 1920×1080, and name it News Ticker.
For the Logo Bar, I’ll go to Layer > New > Shape Layer. I can add elements and animators to my new shape via the Add button at the top of the screen. This button is only visible when I have the Shape tool selected. You can always find it to the right of the Contents of the Shape Layer in the Timeline.
Next, I’ll add both a Rectangle and a Fill, setting the Fill to a dark red color. Shape Layers have a render order, so it’s important to put the Rectangle above the Fill. Next, I’ll open up the Rectangle Path 1 and manually set the Size parameter to 500 x 70 pixels. I’ll rename the shape layer Logo Bar.
To help place my elements on screen, I’ll turn on the Title/Action Safe overlay. This is an important part to remember when working in broadcast, as viewers are watching on a variety of different screens. I can use Title Safe to make sure the text is visible on all screens.
The Ticker Bar
To create the ticker background, I’ll simply duplicate the Logo Bar layer and rename it Ticker Bar. To center it horizontally, I can use the Window > Align panel, or just change the X Position of the layer to 960. This number of pixels is half of the width of the comp (1920 pixels).
I’ll change the X Size parameter of the Rectangle Path to 1920 so that it covers the entire width of the screen. Lastly, I’ll change the color of the Ticker Bar to a brighter shade of red and place it underneath the Logo Bar layer.
The Lower Third Bar
Next, I’ll duplicate the Ticker Bar layer and rename it Lower Third Bar. For animation purposes, I’ll place it at the bottom of my layer stack. I’ll set the Fill color to white, and change the X Size parameter to 300 pixels.
I only want the top of the Lower Third Bar to show, so I’ll need to mask out the bottom. For this, I’ll duplicate the layer, renaming the new layer Lower Third Bar MATTE. I’ll move this layer down a bit, so that the top is somewhere over the Logo and Tickers bars. Now, I’ll simply set the TrkMatte of the Lower Third Bar to Alpha Inverted.
If you can’t see the Track Matte column, hit the Toggle Switches/Modes button at the bottom of the timeline panel.
For the Logo Bar, I’ll create two white squares to help my text stand out. To do this, I’ll go to Layer > New > Shape Layer and, once again, add a Rectangle and a Fill. I’ll give the Rectangle Path a size of 55 x 55 pixels, and set the Fill to white. I’ll position it over the Logo Bar, gaining precision by holding the Control key as I move the shape. Once in position, I’ll duplicate the square, then place them side-by-side.
Now, grab the Text tool and add a P and a B over the two squares. I’m using the Futura font set to bold, with a size of 60. For a nice look, I’ll change the color of the text to match the Logo Bar. I’ll also add the word NEWS to the right of the two squares. I’ll put this in All Caps and switch from Bold to Book.
Next up is the Lower Third. For this, I’ll create two text elements, both using the Futura PT font. The top element is Bold with a size of 60, while the bottom text is Medium with a size of 50. If I need to, I can further adjust the position of the Lower Third Bar to give this text more breathing room.
Lastly is the text for the ticker, which I’ll set to All Caps, size at 60, change the color to white, and set to Bold. Now, I can type out my “news,” with each story separated by hyphens. With all of my elements in place, I’m ready to animate.
Both the Logo and Ticker Bars need nothing more than a simple position animation from left to right. To do this, I’ll animate these on screen over the course of two seconds, with the Logo Bar animating on before the Ticker Bar. To make the animation a bit smoother, I’ll add some Easy Ease to both, then make slight adjustments in the Graph Editor.
The logo elements need to come in right after the Logo Bar animates on. For both the text and the square shapes, I’ll use a Rotation and Scale animation. The most streamlined method is to simply animate one square, add, then copy/paste those keyframes of the remaining elements. Then, I can stagger each layer to perfectly time the animation.
For the lower third, I’ll first animate the Y Position of the Lower Third Bar to have it revealed. For the text, I’ll use an animation preset from the Window > Effects & Presets panel. Once open, I’ll go to Animation Presets > Presets > Text > Animate In and select the Typewriter preset. I can simply drag and drop this over both text elements, and then retime the keyframes to get the look I want.
Create the Text Crawl
With everything else animated, I’m now ready to focus on the ticker, or text crawl. This is created via a basic expression.
First, I’ll grab my text and drag-move it just off the right-side of the screen. Holding Shift will keep it locked to its Y position as I move the layer. Next, I’ll bring up the Position parameter (P) and Alt + Click on the stopwatch, then add this expression:
This essentially tells After Effects to use time as a variable to drive the speed of the X position of the text element. I can make changes to the -150 number value to change the speed of the text.
Export with Alpha
As a final step, I’ll export the sequence with an alpha channel. The alpha channel adds the transparency to my video clip, allowing me to drop this over other video clips while editing.
To export, I’ll go to Composition > Add to Render Queue. I’ll click on the Lossless button of the Output Module setting. Now, I’ll change the Channels to RGB + Alpha. Be sure to set a work area, as you’ll end up with an extremely large file.
Voilà, I have a broadcast-style news ticker!
Looking for more inspiration? Check out these articles:
- Exporting with Alpha Channels in After Effects
- 5 Ways to Punch Up a Boring Shot with the Rotobrush
- Animation Fundamentals: Easing, Anticipation, and Follow Through
Cover image via Albert999.