How To Make Auto Adjusting Lower Thirds in Adobe After Effects

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In today’s article we’ll take a look at a very cool and simple to use a technique in After Effects, that will enable you to create lower thirds that automatically adjust according to the length of the text you type in and this will make your animation work super quick and efficient.

To do this we will use a special expression, so let’s go ahead and get started.

The technique step by step

First, we’ll create a new composition, full HD 1920x1080px and we’ll create a solid for the background by going to Layer-New- Solid.


Next, we’ll create a new text layer and we’ll set it to left align from the paragraph menu.

We’ll then select the rectangle tool and double-click on it to create a full comp size rectangle and we’ll set the stroke to 40.


Open the drop-down menu of the shape layer and we’ll head over to the “Rectangle Path” section. We’ll be working with the size and position properties.


First, we’ll add the expression for the position property:

content(“Rectangle 1”).content(“Rectangle Path 1”).size/2

Alt+click on the stopwatch to enter the expression and you can copy and paste it from abovehow-to-make-auto-adjusting-lower-thirds-in-adobe-after-effects-4

This expression will make shape layer follow the text

Next, we’ll add the expression for the size property. Alt+click to add it:

s =thisComp.layer(“TEST TEXT”);

x = s.sourceRectAtTime(time-s.inPoint,true).width;

y = s.sourceRectAtTime(time-s.inPoint,true).height;



This expression is telling After Effects that the height and the width of the shape layer have to be equal to the height and the width of the text layer. You will need to replace “TEST TEXT” to your own text you have entered (case sensitive) or, alternatively, type s= and pick whip the property and parent it with the text layer

Next, we’ll grab the shape box layer and position it over the text, making sure it’s lined up correctly, and we’ll place the box shape below the text


Now as we type in more text, the box will follow and it will increase or decrease in size

Moving on, we’ll create a new null layer (Layer-New- Null Layer) and we’ll name it Control Layer and we’ll parent the text and the box to the null layer so we can move the elements around more easily.


Our main basic lower third is ready, we’ll now take things further and improve its aspect.

Improving the design of the lower 3rd

Our lower third is technically ready, let’s also make it look a lot cooler.

We’ll start by duplicating the box shape layer and bring down the opacity to 50% and reposition it a bit below so it gives the feel of a drop shadow.


Next, we’ll head over to the animate button for the text layer and we’ll choose “Scale”


We’ll set the offset to “0” and set a keyfrom for the “Start” property, move the time indicator forward in time, and create a new keyframe by bringing up the Start to “100”.


If you don’t like to letter pop up effect, you can head over to the Advanced section and set the smoothness to 0%


Next, to improve the design even further, we’ll add a scale effect on the Null layer, which controls all the layers

Press “s” to bring down the scale property and we’ll add a cool pop up expression. Alt+click and entre the following expression:


freq = 1;

decay = 6;

t = time – inPoint;

startVal = [0,0];

endVal = [100,100];

dur = 0.2;

if (t < dur){



amp = (endVal – startVal)/dur;

w = freq*Math.PI*2;

endVal + amp*(Math.sin((t-dur)*w)/Math.exp(decay*(t-dur))/w);



This will create a nice pop up effect with smooth dynamics

Thank you for taking the time to read this article and we hope you enjoyed this cool technique which can be super time saving, and we’ll see you again in the next tutorial

Remus Hosu

Remus Hosu

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