After Effects Photo/Video Template Tutorial

Motion Array After Effects 11/01/2020 4 min read

Motion Array’s After Effects photo and video templates are a great way to start editing your first project as you grow your skills as an editor. There are thousands of different template themes and designs to choose from in the vast library. 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 another folder.

For the purposes of this tutorial on basic usage, you don’t have to worry about all the folders but just the Edit folder. 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.

Learn How To Use After Effects Photo/Video Templates

Start off by locating the Corner Slideshow After Effects template 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.

Step 1: Add Images & Videos

  1. The first place you should look is in the Project window.
  2. Drop down the Media folder where you should see a variety of compositions labeled Media 1, Media 2, Media 3, etc.  These 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?

  1. Import your own media by going to your Project window.  And you can either double-click or right-click and go to Import > File.
  2. From here you can find on your computer all the different pictures or videos you want to include in your project.  

Tip: We 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.  

  1. Then click Import and your files will be available inside of After Effects.
  2. Here we can see that if we click on one of these clips we can get a sense of which picture or video it is.  Find which picture you want to appear first, and then you can add it one of 2 ways:  
    • Drag it right onto the composition for Media 1.
    • Double-click on Media 1 and drag it down here into the composition.
  3. If your picture is too large, easily decrease the size by holding Shift + dragging the corners. The perspective of the picture won’t change at all.
  4. If you want to move your picture, hold Shift to move it up without it moving at all from side to side.
  5. Go back to the main composition to see how the project is looking. 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.  

Note: In our example, both of these are the same, but just show different resolutions of the same project. We’ll go with 1080.

  1. Quickly go through that same process with a couple more pieces of content. It is that fast and easy to add them. And here’s another great part, if you want to add a video, the process is just the same!

Step 2: Add & Edit Text

Now your project has both photos and videos, but the text doesn’t say what we want it to say. Well, that process works very much the same as media.  

  1. Drop down the Text folder and each composition is in order with when each piece of text comes into the frame.
    • So if we go back to the beginning, the first piece of text should be Text 1.
  2. Double-click to change that piece of text and title it Motion Array.
  3. Double-click on the text here, or on the layer here to highlight your text to type out your title or content. You can make further edits, such as a new font and increasing the size.

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 and have part of it cut off, that’s what will show up in our composition.  So just keep that in mind.

Step 3: Adjust Color

How do we control some of the other elements of our project like the color?

  1. 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.
  2. Go to the Project window and switch to the Effects Control panel, we can see a similar layout.

Now depending on your template, you may have either more or fewer options to play around with.  But a good place to start with each of them is to look at the name, and then do a test to see what it impacts.  

  1. Go to Background Color 1 and then drop down to the color swatch.  Change the color to something different, we will do Cherry Red. You will notice that it’s not making a solid color difference but it’s impacting a specific area. This can mean that Background Color 2 controls some of the areas that Background Color 1 doesn’t.

Tip: By hitting Control or Command + Z, you can undo your most recent decisions. No harm done.

Note: We encourage you to do some testing for any sections you’re not entirely sure of what they do. Some template options might be more self-explanatory, like the Intro and Outro Text Color, as well as General Text Color.

Parameters like Color will be pretty consistent between most templates. But the Corner Roundness parameter is something specific to a template.  It controls the roundness of each of the 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!

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