What’s better than free After Effects templates? How about free AE templates that are high quality, easy to use, and come with a description on how to use them? When you download an AE template from Pond5, you’ll receive a zip folder containing any media files included with the template (sometimes they’ll even include a tutorial video), as well as a preview video and a text document that can include detailed instructions.
Here are a few templates that are available right now for free, along with a brief description on how to best use them for your projects. (Keep in mind that the music, photos, and videos presented in the preview on Pond5 are not always included with the template, since the artist usually just uses them for references.)
Lower thirds can be the most basic motion graphic you use in your project, so they’re usually pretty streamlined when it comes to ease of use. One of the other benefits for lower thirds is that artists normally upload a pack or group of animations to give you some variety. This template includes a standard lower third, a single-line text box, two flashing icon boxes, and one multi-line text box, but I’m just going to go over the main lower-third template.
To easily edit the text, go to your project window and open the folder for the corresponding graphic you want (V1, V2, V3, etc.).
Find the “Change Elements Here” folder and double-click on the layer you want to change, then type in your text.
From here, all you have to do is type in your text, go to your “Render Here” folder, double-click the “RENDER COMP” composition, and render out your layer (run a preview first just to be safe). Make sure to deselect the unused layers using the eyes on the composition layer control, and remember to include an alpha channel, since this is only a nameplate.
If you want to go a step further, you can adjust anything within the circular “globe” graphic, but you don’t want to touch too much if you don’t know what you’re doing. Luckily, the artist included notes on the (only) layers you should adjust, highlighted here.
Look carefully in the graphic and you can see the “pond5” I’ve added in both the rotating outer text and the highlighted vertical text using those two layers. If your word is longer or shorter in the vertical text, you need to adjust the orange highlight and the blue squares accordingly, which can be done in their respective layer controls. You’ll need to mask the blue squares and trim or extend the orange highlight layer.
Another quick and easy graphic to have in your library is a simple logo reveal. This could be used as a stinger at the beginning or end (a.k.a. “intro” or “outro”) of your videos, or just as a loop in your office monitors.
There are only two comps in this project, and only two layers total that need to be adjusted. To change the text, double-click the logo comp in the project window and select the text. Type in whatever you want your text to say.
The next thing to adjust is the color layers of the squares and background. Open the “main” composition and find the “[color control]” layer. Twirl open the effects tab and click the color box to change it to whatever color you prefer.
Remember not to touch anything if you aren’t sure what you’re doing. The artist locked most of the layers here, though, so you can’t screw it up too much!
This is a common type of graphic that you see on many advertisements and infographics. The text is “kinetic” and moves in all different directions with quick zooms and rotations.
This template can be used in a few different ways. You can keep all the text layers as they are and simply type in your new words, or you can go an extra step and add (or replace a text layer with) a logo and add text next to it. Either way, you’ll be changing the text in the layers, so let’s start there.
Open the project and find the “Preview” comp. Find the title or animation you want to use and double click to open that template. In this case, I’m working with Title_02. All you have to do now is double click on the text layer and type your new words, and they’ll be animated. To see how it will look in its final version, go to back to the “Preview” tab and scrub through to see if you like it.
If it all works fine and nothing needs to be tweaked, go ahead and render. However, if something doesn’t look right or it needs to be adjusted, you have to show the hidden layers by clicking on the “shy guy.”
The shy guy is normally used to hide layers that shouldn’t be changed, or to keep a more organized project. In this case, it’s used for both, but we need to open it in order to get our words to fit properly.
I re-typed the words that were in the composition (Title_02) to say “TYPE ANYTHING IN THIS AE TEMPLATE,” and now at the beginning of the animation, you can see a random, lonely “G” right next to the word “TYPE.” That’s actually the end of the word “ANYTHING” and isn’t supposed to be showing yet.
We need to adjust the word “ANYTHING” until that G is completely hidden, which means we need to adjust its starting position keyframe to be hidden until it pops out. This is where we go to our hidden layers and locate the keyframes we need to adjust.
Now that you’ve clicked the shy guy, you’ll see that the word is parented to layer “2.” Go to layer 2 and hit “u” or twirl down the arrow to see the keyframes. Now simply scrub to the first keyframe and move the position until the “G” is gone.
This is how this entire template works. You have to open the hidden layers and then adjust the parented layers’ keyframes. You can control the timing, positioning, scale, and rotation, just like anything else. Just be sure that you don’t do anything to the actual text layers, because that can create two sets of keyframes and throw everything off.
Credit sequences and intros are usually pretty easy, because all you may need to do is re-type the names and keep the look that’s already built in. That said, many of these templates allow you to switch out the video placeholders with your own footage, like this one.
You can edit both the text and the visuals, so this is a little more involved than our other templates, but that doesn’t necessarily make it any tougher to work on. Let’s start with the text.
As with the other templates, there’s a folder in the project that tells you where to change your text. Open those individual layers and input your own custom text. Be aware that some text boxes have two lines, so you need to hit enter or return to make it fit correctly.
Changing the logo is the same as the other templates as well — you simply import the new file and put it in the “!!Change_Logo” comp. Adjust the size and positioning as well, and play it back to make sure it looks the way you want it to.
Now we get to the video layers. The first step is to create a new folder for the items you’re going to import into the project, then import (⌘+I) your items into the folder.
Open up the “!!!Change_Video” comp. The trickiest part of this template is lining up the videos with the slides, but the artist took the extra time and marked exactly where you need to place each video layer in the composition. Check out the markers that say “cut” in the timeline. That’s where you want to set your in and out points for your videos.
You can either trim the beginning or end, or you can hit “option+[” or “option+]” to quickly set the points. The open bracket ([) is the in point, and the closed bracket (]) is the out point. Here’s a gif of the adjustments:
Next, go back to the “!!!Render” comp and preview your changes. If everything looks good, you’re ready to render out your opening sequence!
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