Video overlay effects are hugely valuable for editors of all skill levels. And fortunately, overlays are not difficult to understand. The name says it all – they are clips that are simply “layered over” other clips to add a little something extra to the footage.
If you’re working on season-themed footage, you may wish to add some falling snow or rain in there. Lighting overlays can be used to cultivate a particular mood, such as romantic or eerie. Overlays can also be animated, which stand out a bit more. It all depends on your reason for using one.
There are tons of free video overlays out there. Lighting effects, glitches, patterns, text, and more — if you can imagine it, there is probably an overlay for it. We’ve put together some of our favorites for you to download for free today. Check them out!
Part 1: Top Free Video Overlays
Here are some fun, useful, free overlays you can download right now.
A soft, dimly lit overlay with a romantic feel. It’s a drag and drop file, which means you simply add it to your footage and choose a blending mode that looks good. It’s also loopable, so it can be used for any length footage you want!
Sometimes you just need that grunge. Drop it into your video, change the blending mode to overlay, and there you have it.
Give your footage that old-school, half-tuned TV look. Perfect for adding some glitchy noise when needed.
Check out this creepy, dark, abstract overlay, with some water-like motion. Attribution may be required if using in commercial projects!
No list of free video overlays would be complete without this classic. For those shots of … Well, shots.
A beautiful, rainbow light leak overlay like this adds something very special to an edit. This warm, bright overlay is great for adding a fresh, new atmosphere to your project.
A useful overlay of a hand swiping with a finger. Great for advertisements and promotional materials.
While a bit different from a traditional overlay, it meets technical requirements because of how it’s designed to be used. The only difference is that instead of using your blending modes for this one, you’ll be replacing your background using keying.
Don’t swipe left on this one!
Every editor needs a great film grain overlay. Austin Newman gives us just that, and a tutorial to go with it. This is a quick, easy way to get that authentic old film look.
This motion graphic creates a colorful, animated, and light particle effect. It would work well as a background for text and video overlay.
Here we have a fantastic collection of overlays with a nice tutorial to go along with them. These free files are transition overlays only!
A computer code overlay that techies will love, this is something that you see in sci-fi movies. Throw it into your next edit to add a bit of science to your story.
Here’s another one for the computer people out there. Need an effect for a computer hacking scene? Making a documentary about technology? This should do the job admirably.
This sliced light leak is something a little different – a striking, rainbow colored light glitch right down the middle of the screen. Be sure to check the licensing info on this one!
This is a striking, elegant flare overlay. Get creative with how you use it, and give your footage a little bit of a boost!
A striking effect created by white smoke swirls on a black background. Perfect to drop into your edit as an overlay to create a dark, smoky mood.
Everything is more cheerful and fun with bubbles! Use this overlay for a bit of fun, to add a child-like, happy feeling to your project.
A wintery overlay with light snowfall is perfect for seasonal videos. Your Christmas videos will never be the same.
This little pack contains 4 free overlays, a glitch, a light, and two patterned transitions. These are video overlay files.
An old-school VHS tape for a trip down memory lane! It comes complete with a time counter and crackling background.
This is a simple rotating star animation forming a pattern. The site itself describes this as a Christmas or winter background, but it can be adapted to suit any need.
It’s always great to have a useful flight navigation for those perspective shots. This one is quite striking, in orange and blue colors.
Bring the love! Ideal for Valentines Day, or just a loving occasion. It’s slow, dreamy, and romantic, and should create that lovin’ feeling in your edit.
A colorful, mesmerizing mandala effect really creates a chilled out feel. It makes for a hypnotizing and calming background. This one is also loopable, allowing you to use it for extended periods of time.
Every editor should have a good countdown overlay in their collection. This one is on a green screen, which means it’s super easy to key in the background of your choice.
Check out this slow-moving, hypnotic, textured overlay of red and white paint mixing together. It’s super mesmerizing, and would make for a very arty background or overlay.
This countdown timer is similar to the numbers countdown above. This one counts backward from 10 seconds (milliseconds included).
Like the embers of a fire, this overlay creates an intense, buzzing atmosphere.
Here’s a wonderfully abstract stock motion overlay for you to use as you wish.
Another thing every editor needs – a good green-screen snowflake overlay for those winter-themed videos.
You never know when you might need a slow-paced procession of colorful bubbles to add a bit of dreaminess to your edit.
This free video overlay adds a splash of summer to any video. Fill out your seasonal overlay collection!
A useful circling effect that can be utilized in many capacities, this will look awesome no matter what purpose it’s fulfilling.
This pack is a compact little treasure chest of stuff for your next edit. You’ll find a variety of overlays, as well as titles, logos, transitions, and sound effects. You’ll have plenty to play with here! And if you’re after more glitchy effects, check out this awesome resource!
Part 2: How Do You Use Overlays?
Overlays are the easiest thing in the world to use. Most of them are simple, drag and drop files that you insert on top of your footage, and voila — your effect appears. You may need to change the blending mode in order to see both your footage and the effect at the same time.
Of course, this is a simple explanation for most video editing programs. Whatever your preferred editing suite, the process to add overlays to your project should be quick and easy.
Don’t forget, though, that with free overlays may come licensing requirements. Some places ask for attribution, which means you need to find a space on your video to place their name as credit. Some don’t require attribution, and you won’t need to worry at all. It is, however, worth having a look at that beforehand.
Part 3: Making Your Own Video Overlay Effects
If you can’t quite find what you want here, and a Google search isn’t helping, you can have a go at making your own overlays. Static and stock video overlays are very easy to create.
Your best friend when creating and working with video overlays is blending modes. Some of the more commonly used ones are screen and overlay.
Applying this blending mode on a layer results in the layer being lightened considerably. It removes all the black from the original layer, and creates a subtle blend of the blended layer and the layer beneath it.
Overlay mode is considered to be a complex blending mode. Overlay is similar in some ways to screen mode. The biggest difference is that Overlay mode does not remove shadows and highlights, which, when applied, means that contrast and saturation are increased.
There are many other blend modes you can play around with. Experimenting can be fun, and you’ll soon start to get an idea of what works best for you!
No matter what level of editor you are, you can get enormous value out of video overlay effects. They up the professionalism of an amateur video by quite a few notches, and add some real flair to the work of a pro.
Don’t underestimate the effect these can have on your edit. Using overlays adds a streak of professionalism that it’s very hard to create without them, so download a few that catch your eye and give them a try!