What is the Lower Third & What Makes Lower Thirds so Important?
As you watch a commercial or view a television show, chances are good that you’ve already seen lower thirds come into play and you just didn’t realize what you were seeing. In design, both online and on television, we hear about the lower thirds a lot. But what is the lower third & what makes lower thirds so important? Follow along as we explain how choices pertaining to the lower-third can make or break your film production process and why lower thirds mean so much to cinematographers and filmmakers alike.
What is the Lower Third?
The lower third refers to the lower area of the screen, at the bottom ⅓ if you were to split the screen horizontally into 3 equal sections. Essentially, the rule of the lower third states that you should deliver any pertinent information to your audience in a way in which it is not distracting but such that it can still be visibly seen and, therefore, it should go on the lower third of the screen.
To define the lower third, this is the lower area of the television screen in which although not always the lower third specifically text and graphical elements are to be included so that they are equally visible and invisible to the viewer. Essentially, we want any text and graphical data elements of a commercial or television show to be delivered in the lower third of the screen so that the audience can see them, but will not be confused or distracted by them.
The lower third comes into play a lot when a documentary or interview style production takes place. The bottom portion of the screen is used to create an “on brand,” design that matches the colors and style of the brand the film is for while including valuable details about interviewees or documentary details in text form within that lower area. This way, viewers can keep track of who is speaking or what the narrator is discussing in a documentary as they have the text visual elements available to them in the lower-third of the screen at all times. The information is equally not distracting as it is helpful.
What is Included in the Lower Third?
Various elements of text and graphical representation are included in the lower third of the screen. These elements include:
- On brand typography – the font style that is used for your brand would be used in the lower third of a video as well. Text that is included should be short and easy to read. No need to overdo or include lengthy text overlay.
- Logos – the brand logo can be included in the lower third of the video screen. Generally guidelines as to brand style are followed when including the logo or any other typography in the lower third.
- On brand colors – the lower third section of the screen will use on brand colors that fit with the standard colors of the brand or with the colors of the video itself. One or two colors at most will generally be used to prevent from creating a distraction in the lower third.
- Size – the amount of screen space that you have to work with in the lower-third will really depend on the actual size of the screen that the final video will be viewed on. Take this into consideration as you included elements in the lower third. If you know that the majority of your viewers will watch from a small mobile device, you’ll want to keep the title and details in the lower third must smaller than if you know the content will be viewed on a large screen. Use good judgement.
- Animations – animations may push along the lines of the lower third being disruptive but if you use them correctly, such as a simple animation to text or logo without being over the top, it can be beneficial and may not be too distracting. If you feel like the designs you have included are a distraction, consider rethinking your process.
Lower thirds can be used to add visual appeal and purpose to the bottom area of the screen while including important elements and data for viewers in a non-interruptive or non-invasive manner. Want to learn more about using the lower third area of your video project to include key details about your business or services? Give Beverly Boy Productions a call today to get started!
Videomaker does a great job explaining and visually demonstrating everything you’d want to know about lower thirds: