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Add a Text Message Chat to Live-Action Footage in After Effects

Joshua Noel

Learn how to design, animate, and composite a text message conversation with live-action footage in After Effects.

Fifteen years ago, you would not see text messages on television and movie screens because they were not a primary form of communication. However, that’s not the case today. As technology advances and integrates further into our society, filmmakers gain new elements to use in their stories. With these new technological elements, the task of “how to incorporate them correctly in live-action footage” begins.

In this After Effects tutorial, take a closer look at how to create a text message chat and composite it with your footage. Learn how to design the text bubbles, realistically animate each text message, and correctly composite your text messages over footage.

Best Type of Footage to Composite Text Messages With

If you are going to composite your text message chat with footage, there are a few things to keep in mind before you shoot.

  1. If you want your messages to stand out from the background, think about the color palette of your text message bubbles and light your footage accordingly.
  2. Have your talent act and react in a timely manner as he or she sends and receives each message.
  3. If you are in a low-light situation, don’t forget to make the light from the screen stand out.
  4. Be sure to get a static shot of your scene in case the motion shots don’t composite well with your text messages.
  5. Make it clear that your character is using the phone, or the result will be awkward.

If you want to sell the text message effect even further, add sound effects. Be sure to check out our tutorial on creating a text message chat to see how to make your scene come to life in After Effects. Have fun and good luck!

For those who just want to experiment with some text message bubbles, you can also download the free Messenger After Effects template from our friends at RocketStock.


Do you know creative ways to integrate text messages in your projects? Let us know in the comments.