How It's Made: Sexy Title Reveal in After Effects

How It's Made: Sexy Title Reveal in After Effects

On this episode of How It’s Made, we dive deep into the inner workings of Adobe After Effects and look at what it takes to clip out video, frame-by-frame, in order to make your video title really POP*! We will be using the roto brush tool to achieve this awesome effect.

Main Title Animation

During the first couple of weeks of June, some of us at goBRANDgo!, a couple of our friends from a St. Louis-based production studio, along with two brothers, participated in the 48-hour film project, a film festival of sorts in which each team has only 48 hours from idea to dvd for a 4-7 minute film. We were given a character, prop, line, and genre that we had to use in order to ensure the 48 hour restriction. We produced a film called Al Fresco. Check out the link at the bottom for the full film.

Today, we are going to use the title reveal from that film as an example to work with. First of all, let’s make sure you have all of the proper tools.

You will need:

  • Adobe Illustrator®
  • Adobe After Effects®
  • A film clip
  • A moderate understanding of the functionality of Adobe® software

Have you assembled your supplies? Ok, I’ll wait.

Now that you have everything you need, let’s get started. For all intents and purposes of this tutorial, I have laid out my type in Illustrator, but really you can knock out this step if you’d prefer to work with the type tool in After Effects®.

Type Layout

Looks like our type is ready to go. Man, that looks classy! Let’s open up After Effects and get down to business.

Once inside of the dark After Effects interface, let’s create a new composition. You can do this by going to the top menu and selecting COMPOSITION >> NEW, or by simply pressing cmd+N.

New Composition Settings

For the purpose of this film, our composition needs to be full hd (1920×1080) and at a frame rate of 29.97 fps. Click OK and let’s get started.

Start by importing you video file and the illustrator file you’ve saved into the composition by going to FILE >> IMPORT FILE. Drag your video file into the composition and make sure that the composition settings and the settings of your video file match up.

Now for the fun part. Find the spot in the timeline where you want to start masking your video. For me, it starts right around the 13 second mark.


Now get out your roto brush tool by hitting ALT+W or going to the toolbar and clicking the icon that looks like a dude and a paintbrush.

Screen Shot 2013-08-16 at 10.23.00 AM

Let’s go ahead and duplicate your video layer and lock the existing one so that we are only working on the duplicated layer on top.

Now double click the top video layer to view only the contents of that layer. Using the roto brush, draw an outline INSIDE the object you would like to mask out. Now, holding down the ALT key, draw a little bit around the OUTSIDE of the object. What you are doing here is telling After Effects which colors/shadows to grab and which NOT to grab. once you have a mask you are happy with, press the space bar to start rendering this mask, frame by frame. It is common for the mask to lose its shape every few frames or so, so you will have to redraw every time this happens. The mask that I was happy with for this shot looked like this (different mask views so you can see the result).

Umbrella Mask

Place your type on a layer between the masked out video and the full video, and VOILA! You’ve got yourself a nice little title reveal.

If this tutorial helped you, I would love to see the final product. If it didn’t help you, let me know what questions you have or things I may have missed. Post any video links or questions in the comments!

I listened to The Head and the Heart while writing this post.


View the film that this tutorial utilizes HERE.

*author does not endorse the use of the word “POP,” especially when used in all caps and regarding anything having to do with design. For that matter, the word “Pop” shall only be used when referencing the following: The third member of the Rice Crispies® squad, A category to describe the crooning of musical groups such as the Backstreet Boys and Hanson.

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