5 Text Effects to Level up Your Videos

Motion text and animation is an essential part of the video editing process. This article covers animating with masks, linear wipes, track mattes, and more.

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Almost every video has some sort of text element to it now. From YouTube channels to Hollywood movies, editors are getting more creative with how they include motion text to enhance their content, and you’re no different! Adding motion typography creates depth and vastly improves small business product videos, social media promotions, webinars, infomercials, and more.

The different effects for text are seemingly endless, but to get you started, I’ve listed five common text and animation effects. These effects can be created in most video editing software, but the step-by-step examples are created in Adobe’s Premiere Pro.

1. Moving position and creating masks

The most obvious way to add motion to your text is to change the value of the position parameter over time. Within Premiere, it’s super easy to animate the position in the essential graphics workspace. The graphics panel can also be used to create masks that will hide and reveal text layers. If you’re new to Premiere, check out Premiere Pro for beginners to get a little more comfortable before moving on.

The below example is done in the essential graphics panel and uses a mask to hide the text before it moves. Quick note, be sure you are finished designing your typography before animating it. Changing size, alignment, tracking later could force you to redo the animation keyframes.

Using the essential graphics panel:

  1. Click the New layer icon to add a text layer (the icon of the piece of paper with a corner folded).
  2. Fill in your text and position the text at the finishing position.
  3. Add a new rectangle using the New layer icon.
  4. Place the rectangle over the text so the text is hidden — this will become your mask.
  5. With the rectangle selected, check the Mask with Shape option under the Appearance section in the Essential Graphics panel.
  6. Now your rectangle is acting as a mask for your text, and the text will show only when it is within the outline of the rectangle; similar to a window.
  7. Select your text layer and move your playhead to the beginning of the clip.
  8. Use the position controls in the graphics panel to move your text outside your mask.
  9. Once the text is moved outside the rectangle, click the four crossing arrows icon to toggle animation for position.
  10. Move your playhead 15 frames down your timeline, and reposition your text to be within the mask window.
  11. When you playback your video, the text should move into the mask created by the rectangle to create text animation, as shown below.
A text animation created in Premiere Pro.

An animation showing text moving into a mask by keyframing the position of the text. Source: Matt Kilefner.

As you may notice, the motion isn’t very appealing moving at the same pace from spot to spot. Naturally, it doesn’t feel right because we are used to observing objects speed up and slow down. To give your motion text a more natural flow, use the temporal interpolation settings by following these steps:

  1. Navigate to the Effect Controls panel and find your position keyframes.
  2. Right-click the first keyframe, scroll down to temporal interpolation and select Ease Out.
  3. Right-click the second keyframe, scroll down to temporal interpolation and select Ease In.
  4. For further fine-tuning, click the arrow next to Position to open up the speed graph.
  5. Use the Bezier handles on the keyframes to increase or decrease the rate of speed between the two keyframes.

As it sounds, the Ease Out setting will tailor the movement coming out of the first keyframe, and Ease In will slow the movement coming into the second keyframe. These are both great starting points for the temporal interpolation of keyframes.

2. Keyframing opacity and adding blur

Adding opacity and blur to text is ideal for credits, title sequences, and lower thirds. The effect is minimal, clean, and popular in everything from interviews to movies. There’s more than one way to achieve this effect, but the following steps use opacity in the effects control panel and the Gaussian Blur effect.

  1. Using the Type tool on the timeline or the Essential Graphics panel, add text to your video.
  2. Position the text as desired.
  3. Find the opacity in the effects control panel.
  4. Create a keyframe of 0% opacity at the beginning of the clip.
  5. Move the playhead down the clip and create another opacity keyframe at 100%.
  6. Navigate to the effects panel and add Gaussian Blur from the Effects menu.
  7. Create two matching keyframes for blur — the first one for around 25-30 blurriness, and the second one for zero.
  8. Optional — add ease out and ease in temporal interpolation on each frame.
An opacity and blur animation made in Premiere Pro.

A lower-third reveal made by keyframing the opacity and adding a blur effect. Source:

Matt Kilefner.

3. Overlaying the Track Matte Key

The Track Matte Key is a creative option to drop on text and is widely used in short-form social media promotions. The Track Matte effect works on the alpha channel of one clip and the opacity of another clip to make parts of the selected clip transparent — or, more easily, it turns the text into a window for the video beneath (see illustration below). To create a Track Matte Effect follow these steps:

  1. Create some text — it’s ideal to use bold or wide text for this effect.
  2. Place a video on the layer beneath the text.
  3. Apply the Track Matte Key Effect from the Effects panel to the video layer.
  4. In the Effects Control panel, set the matte for video layer 2 in the options under the Track Matte Key (in this example, your text should be on V2, and your video should be on V1).
  5. Your video should be playing only within the outline of your text.
Video made using a track matte in Premiere Pro.

The Track Matte Key effect in Premiere Pro used to place the underlying video within the text. Source: Matt Kilefner.

Not every video is ideal for this type of effect so play around with different options until you get the desired aesthetic. You can change the negative space color from black by adding a color matte under the video and text layer. In that case, your color matte would be V1, the background video would be V2, and the text would be V3.

4. Revealing text with Linear Wipe

Linear Wipes are mostly used for seamless transitions, but they can also create a pretty awesome text reveal. As the transition wipes across the screen it will also uncover any text underneath. It’s simple to create with these quick steps:

  1. Create and position your text.
  2. Drag and drop the Linear Wipe effect from the Effects panel onto your text layer.
  3. In the effects control panel, change the wipe angle to -90 degrees, or 270 degrees, so the transition reveals text from left to right.
  4. Make a keyframe for 100% transition complete at the beginning of the clip, and another keyframe 30 frames later for 0% transition complete — this will move the wipe across the screen to reveal your text.
A Linear Wipe made in Premiere Pro.

Using a Linear Wipe transition to reveal text and a color matte. Source: Matt Kilefner.

To add more style to this transition, place a color matte underneath the text layer with the exact same effect with the same keyframes. Set the blending layer to multiple on the color matte, and you’ll have a color wipe to emphasize the text reveal.

5. Animating with scale and shapes

Animating the scale of a text is valuable in many situations: titles, call-outs, explainer videos, promos, etc. Within Premiere, users can adjust both the vertical and horizontal scale of objects, so there’s flexibility in animating.

One common use of scale animation is to lay it over a shape. Placing an ellipse or rectangle underneath your text will make the words pop, which is why it’s useful for call-outs and product videos. A walk-through in scaling both text and shape below:

  1. In the Essential Graphics panel, create your text and position as desired.
  2. Also in the Essential Graphics panel, add an ellipse shape layer to place underneath the text. Tip: Hold Shift to create a proportional circle.
  3. Both the text and shape will be combined onto a single layer in the timeline.
  4. Move to the Effects Control panel and find the scale parameter for the text.
  5. Create a scale keyframe for zero at the beginning of the clip, another keyframe for 120 20 frames past that, and the last keyframe for 100 five frames further.
  6. Create the same keyframes for the shape layer.
  7. The final product should be the text and shape layer, in unison, expanding from nothing and then contracting a little at the end.
A scale animation made in Premiere Pro.

Animating text and shape by keyframing the scale value of both elements. Source: Matt Kilefner.

It’s important to keep the anchor point centered while creating scale animations. If you find your animation beginning and ending in different spaces than intended, the anchor point has strayed. The anchor point looks like a target, or a circle with crossing vertical and horizontal lines. Before you begin animating, this should be centered beneath both your text and shape layers. The animation will begin from this point.

Since you can separate the horizontal and vertical scale, this type of animated text is also great for titles or lower-thirds. Starting the horizontal scale at zero and increasing the value gives a cool stretch animation.

Mastering animation

As you can tell, keyframing is the basis for how to add animation to text. It’s important to get comfortable working with keyframes, different effect parameters, temporal interpolation, and the speed graph within the effects panel of Premiere Pro. Once you get a hang of these techniques, crafting animations will be a part of your normal creative workflow.

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