After Effects Photo/Video Template Tutorial

Motion Array After Effects January 11, 2019 5 min read

Let’s start off by locating the After Effects file and double click it.  After Effects will open up and from here you should be greeted with the template, but without any pictures or videos inside.  This is not an accident. These templates are designed for you to be able to insert your own media.  And the first place you should look is in the project window over here.

Each template will have slightly different nuances but they should all have a similar layout.  You should have some sort of an edit folder.  A final folder.  And you may or may not have an other folder.

For the purposes of this tutorial on basic usage, you don’t have to worry about these two, just the Edit folder is where you want to focus.  Open it up and here we’re greeted with 3 new folders.  And each of these will tell you a different area that you can edit – Color, Media, and Text.

We’re gonna first take a look at how to add media, then how to work with text, and finally we’ll end with how to change the color and aesthetic elements.

How To Use After Effects Photo/Video Templates

So to start, how do you actually place your own media into this composition.  Well if you drop down the media folder here you should see a variety of compositions labelled Media 1, Media 2, Media 3, etc.  What these are are the placeholders for each picture in the order that they appear. So if we skim forward here we can see the first spot where a picture is supposed to be.  If it’s the first place, then Media 1 is the slot where we know the picture will show up here.  So how do you actually add in your own media.

Well first you have to import your own media.  So let’s do that here by going to your project window.  And you can either double click, or right click and go to Import, File.

From here you can find on your computer all the different pictures or videos you want to include in your project.  I would suggest having a folder ahead of time where you’ve compiled everything together so that you simply have to find that folder and then select everything at once to import.  Then click import and your files will be available inside of After Effects.

Nice! And here we can see that if we click on one of these clips we can get a sense for which picture or video it is.  So find which picture you want to appear first, and then you can add it one of two ways.  Either drag it right onto the composition for Media 1, or double click on Media 1 and drag it down here into the composition.

We can see right off the bat that our picture is too large.  So lets decrease the size. If you hold shift while dragging these corners here, the perspective of the picture won’t change at all.  Likewise, now I just want to move the picture up, but I like how it’s centered.  So hold shift to move it up without it moving at all from side to side. Nice! So how does it look in our project?  Well let’s go back to our main composition to see.  Likely it will either be the composition here to the far left, but if you’re not sure, you can always go to the final folder and double click the full composition.  In our example, both of these are the same, but just show different resolutions of the same project.  I’ll go with 1080.

And boom! There it is! That already looks awesome! Cool, so I’m gonna quickly go through that same process with a couple more pieces of content.  And honestly, it can be that fast to add!

Now we have three pictures in a row! And here’s the great part, If you want to add a video, the process is just the same!  Now our project has both photos and videos.

Great, so our media is in place, but the text doesn’t say what we want it to say. Well that process works very much the same as media.  Drop down the text folder and each composition is in order with when each piece of text comes into frame.  So if we go back to the beginning, the first piece of text should be Text 1.  And sure enough when we double click, we can change that piece of text.  Let’s title it Motion Array.  Double click on the text here, or on the layer here to highlight your text.  Now make it say whatever you want.  And I’m also going to just give it a new font and increase the size a bit.  Great.

Now if we go back to the main composition, we can see that our text immediately takes form! Nice! But let’s go back here to our text composition for one second. We can see that the box around the text isn’t the normal shape or size of what we see in our After Effects composition.  Basically what this is showing us is where the safe areas of our text can be.  Anything inside of this box will show, but if we take it to the edge here and have part of it cut off, that’s what will show up in our composition.  So just keep that in mind.

Okay.  So we’ve learned to work with inserting media, changing text, but how do we control some of the other elements of our project like color? Well let’s go up here to Color and double click on this composition. We can see here that we only have one layer, but when we drop it down, there’s a lot of different parameters we can address.  And if we go here to the project window and switch it to Effect Controls, we can see a similar layout.

Now depending on your template, you may have either more or less options to play around with.  But a good place to start with each of them is look at the name, and then do a test to see what it impacts.  So I can see here, this one says Background Color 1.  So when we drop it down it has a color swatch.  Let’s just see what changing it to something different looks like.  Let’s make it Cherry Red.  Wow, okay so we can see what our change is affecting.  It’s not making a solid color difference but it’s impacting a specific area.  So I can assume then that Background Color 2 will control some of the areas that Background Color 1 didn’t.  And sure enough that’s what happens.

But if you don’t want your composition to look like this, that’s okay.  By hitting Control or Command + Z, you can undo your most recent decisions.  Nice! No harm done. And now I can confidently make some changes that I want to see just based on my own personal preference.

I would also encourage you to do the same sort of testing for any sections you’re not entirely sure of what they do. And others will be more self explanatory.  Like here where we see Intro and Outro Text Color, as well as General Text Color.

Parameters like color will be pretty consistent between most templates. But we bring some of these up because others may be very specific to the template you’ve chosen.  Like this parameter here – Corner Roundness.  If we test out to see what that is, we can see that it’s literally the roundness of each of these shape corners.  This is very specific to this particular project, and you may find that each individual project has its own unique elements that you can play around with.  So feel free to experiment a little bit and see how you can make your templates truly your own.

We hope you found this video helpful.  If you did, we’ve got lots of other tutorials for Premiere Pro, After Effects, and filmmaking in general!