When you’re asked to create a video for your holiday event or family function, make more time for celebrating and decorating by starting with a template! After Effects templates leave animations and designs to the professionals so you can just add your footage and brand customizations.
In this lesson, I’m going to work with this template from the Storyblocks library to show how simple it is to create the perfect holiday reel. A pre-built After Effects template is the key to skipping ahead in the video production process. Let’s learn how to customize and work with one.
1. Choose a Project
The key to speeding up your video editing workflow is to start with most of the work already done by using pre-built templates that lessen the learning curve that comes with video production.
As part of your Storyblocks membership, you can download After Effects templates that are easy to customize. Search the library for a project template that closely resembles what you have in mind and just apply a few tweaks to produce a high-quality, on-brand video. For this tutorial, I’m using the Winter Holiday Slideshow template.
Inside the Winter Holiday Slideshow Project, there are several .aep files–these are the After Effects project files that hold all of the pre-built animation and effects. In this example, I’m going to work with the light version (“Winter Slideshow_Light”) because it takes the least time to render out upon completion. After you open it in After Effects, press the spacebar to play a preview and see the project.
2. Customize the Intro Text
In the intro to this project, you’ll see some text that you can customize. Adding your company’s name or a holiday greeting can help set the tone for your video.
To modify this layer, scroll down and double-click on the layer titled Opening. After Effects will switch to a separate view (“composition”) to modify the text specifically.
Now, double-click on Opening Text on this view to go down another layer and modify the opening text.
Click on Opening Text one more time to isolate it and modify that text layer. Now, you can type over the text to replace it with your own.
Now, let’s jump back to the Main composition (click on “Main” on the tab bar above the timeline) and play the preview again. You’ll see the updated text set to the pre-fixed animations.
3. Replace the Background Placeholders
As the video progresses, you’ll see bright colors surrounded by holiday graphics. These solid colors are meant to be updated with your own images or videos. For a holiday sizzle reel, you may want to upload photos of your team or brand to customize them.
To update the solid colors, double-click on the layers labeled Parallax and rearrange Parallax 1 so it’s the first layer that will appear in the project.
Now, you’ll want to browse in the Project Panel (upper left corner) into the To Replace folder. Right-click on an asset and go to Replace Footage > File and navigate to your image or video.
Now, jump back to the Main Composition. Play the preview again, and you’ll see the project updated with new assets.
4. Rinse and Repeat
From here on out, it’s pretty much a repetitive process to customize the rest of the project. My favorite After Effects templates are ones that are easy and predictable to work with, and this project fits the bill perfectly.
For a second example, you can double-click through the Parallax 2 layer to replace the second image in the project. This time, replacing Place 2 with a new image or clip will update the second image in the series.
Repeat the process for each of the Parallax layers until the project is fully customized.
5. Render and Deliver
When finalizing customizations on an After Effects project, you have to render it out of the app to create a video file that you can share and display. When you install Adobe After Effects, Creative Cloud will typically install Adobe Media Encoder alongside the app. The purpose of Adobe Media Encoder is to take projects like
To start rendering your project, go to File > Export > Add to Adobe Media Encoder Queue.
Then, you’ll see the video appear in the Adobe Media Encoder list of files that are set to be encoded. I typically will choose a compatible format like H.264 from the format drop-down. Press the play button to start encoding, and when it finishes, you’ll have a ready-to-share flat video file.
That’s it! In five steps, you built your own sizzle reel that captured the magic of the holiday season and set the tone perfectly for next year–and with all of the time you have left over, you’re able to make the most of the holidays.