5 Tips for Using Motion Backgrounds

Motion backgrounds like Digital Juice’s Jump Backs animations are a great way to add professionalism to your productions, but too many editors only use them as text templates.

While moving backgrounds are a great way to show off your titles, there’s a lot more that can be done with them than that! Heck, there are tons of other ways to use them. Here are five interesting ideas for using motion graphics in your edits that you may not have considered.

#1 - REVERSE THE ROLES
Laying text over an animation is the most obvious use of our animated elements. But why not consider reversing the roles? A simple luminance key is a fast and easy way to create cool textured text.


                       Figure 1a                                                Figure 1b

Start by creating a black and white text “template.” The secret here is to draw a black box that fills the screen and then type your white text on top of the black box, so your text is actually on a solid black background, not a transparent layer (Figure 1a). Here I used a luminance key (setting the threshold to 0% and the cutoff to 100%) to let my stars and stripes animation (Jump Back #394 from Volume 10, All American) show through the white letters (Figure 1b). Advanced editors might take this a step further by applying another video clip to the black portion.

#2 - CREATE KEYED BACKGROUNDS
If you ever shoot interviews or talking head talent, you'll find that animated backgrounds make excellent virtual sets. Instead of shooting your subject in a drab office or in front of some cheap white lattice (please, don’t!) slap some green paint on the wall and chromakey those clips over a Jump Back. It's easy to do, and instantly increases your production value. 



                          Figure 2a                                                Figure 2b



                        Figure 2c

#3 - MAKE A MONTAGE MATTE
Jump Backs are a great way to jazz up your photo montages. I made a photo montage for my daughter's kindergarten graduation ceremony. Instead of just running the pictures as a full-screen slideshow (booooring), I selected a playful kindergarten-looking background from Digital Juice’s Editor's Toolkit 10 (Background #240) to use as a foundation.



                      Figure 3a                                                  Figure 3b


                         Figure 3c  

Next I cropped, scaled, and rotated the photos and added drop shadows behind the photos using Premiere Pro's Video Effects and Motion Controls (Figure 3a, 3b & 3c). It wasn't hard to do, but the parents raved over the production. This is a great tip for spicing up any of the photo montages you make. While I used stills in this example, you could just as easily use full-motion video with this crop-and-drop technique.

#4 - VEIL YOUR VIDEO
Here's another real-world example; this one from a video about Afghanistan that I recently edited. I selected Jump Back #905 from Volume 22, Global Impact (Figure 4a) as my base layer. Rather than cutting my B-roll in full screen and fully opaque, I decided to let the texture of the Jump Back show through my footage (clip #4832 from the Int'l Faces category of Digital Juice’s VideoTraxx 2 stock footage library as seen in Figure 4b).


                       Figure 4a                                                  Figure 4b


                         Figure 4c                                               Figure 4d

I was inspired by this particular Jump Back's letterboxed look (with the dark bars at the top and bottom). I cropped the top and bottom of my video to fit into the center of the animation; making it seem as though the footage fades in from behind the animation. Next I created my two text layers using Premiere's titling app (Figure 4c. In case you were interested, the ghosted "Afghanistan" text that you see is actually a drop shadow set to 62% Opacity (Figure 4). I set the Opacity of the main text layer to 0% so that all you see is the soft shadow layer.

#5 - SET THE STAGE
Lots of pros in lots of places use Jump Backs as "dressing" for big screens on big stages in big venues. Think back to the last time you were at a big football stadium, a rock concert, a keynote address at a major tradeshow or contemporary service at a mega-church. For most big venues, Jump Backs are the product of choice for adding splashes of color to help define the mood and to literally set the stage for big budget events. You can use this tip even if you don't do road work for rock stars. Wherever there's a screen at an event, there's an opportunity to add excitement with Jump Backs. Why not provide custom colored projections during dancing at a wedding reception or a helping of hues during a special choir number?

JUST THE BEGINNING
These five creative ideas are just the beginning. Add these tricks to your editing arsenal, and keep looking for more ways to make the most of your animated graphic elements.

Chuck Peters is an Emmy award winning writer and producer and is Vice President of Media and Publications at Digital Juice.

WANT MORE?
For more tips and tricks check out Digital Juice’s free training shows at www.digitaljuice.com/djtv! Watch our shows, then use them in YOUR classroom!

Need Content?
Digital Juice offers a full line of royalty-free content for creative communicators. Whether you need animated graphics, graphic sets, stock footage, production music or sound effects, Digital Juice has everything you need to make great video! www.digitaljuice.com