Grab Bag: Media Design Shorties

20% of Semester Grade

Quick Links on this Page:


This assignment will focus on students learning about some different media short formats and how to use the After Effects tool for basic motion graphics video marketing and communication work. Primary digital tools used will be Adobe After Effects, Photoshop (and/or Illustrator), and Premiere Pro.

This is just the overview! You must read this entire  page to be sure you are doing everything necessary to succeed in this project.

Tools, Techniques, and Concepts Covered

As part of the overview section, you can see at a glance which tools, techniques, and concepts will be addressed in this assignment:

Tools and Techniques
  • Keyframing
  • Blend Modes
  • Design sample development
  • Collaborative work
  • Introduction to interactive interface design
  • Simple programmatic scripting events
  • Timelines, tweening, and easing
  • Adobe After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro

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First, what are short-form formats?

These are formats you encounter frequently when watching movies (production company logo intros or “indents”),  when watching Youtube content (short-form teaser ads), when following marketing campaigns of your favorite brands through social media, when watching branded how-to videos on Youtube, and when waking up to infomercial introductions after falling asleep in front of your TV.

Some things to pay close attention to are how they get and keep your attention so that you don’t skip through them. Do they use humor? Do they use fear? Do they use animation? Do they use engaging and relevant music?

To learn more about different formats, read the following articles:


Decide on a topic and format you would like to use in your 5-10 second short. You can base it on one of the following formats:

  • Video Intro or Outro
  • Production company logo (intro)
  • Internet video content bumper ad
  • Instagram video ad

The content will be based on the topic you choose and the feeling you wish to elicit from the viewer. You are permitted to use your own captured assets, but you can also use stock audio, video footage, and imagery whose licenses allow for reuse/modification and—if the organization is a real one—commercial use. You are not permitted to use existing commercially copyrighted audio/music, imagery, or video footage. Furthermore, you are not allowed to use automated rendering templates available at places like The instructor will look at your After Effects file to see that you made your own animations.

Some things to remember:
  • keep the animations relatively simple and achievable
  • don’t go overboard on plot if it’s an ad (you only have a handful of seconds)
  • If you have no experience in Photoshop or Illustrator and don’t have a pre-existing logo to work with, you can also use GOOD typography in the piece. Note that the fake production company intro below does not use a pre-existing logo. It merely uses appropriate typography within After Effects to create the company logotype.

But to give you a very general idea of where this project is going, here are a couple of examples of some demo formats.

Instagram social media campaign bumper
Movie production company intro

Built with Premiere Pro and After Effects. All media is Creative Commons licensed.

Look in section THREE below for the tutorial on making the above bumper videos.


Watch the following tutorial to see one way you could approach this assignment. While you won’t make this exact video ad to turn in as your project, walking through this process will help you understand the basics of how After Effects works, how to keyframe elements within the composition, and how you can start to find and use different effects to create impact.

Square Instagram Ad Campaign

This first tutorial focuses on making a bumper tailored to a short Instagram ad. It will cover:

  • 01 What is After Effects?
  • 02 Intro to the AE Interface
  • 03 Begin by Creating a Composition
  • 04 Importing Assets and Basic Layer Keyframing
  • 05 Importing a PSD and Adding Effects
  • 06 Creating a Simple 3D Layer Animation
  • 07 Adding Blend Modes to Layers
  • 08 Keyframing Opacity and Adding Shatter Effect
  • 09 Sliding a Layer In with Easing Effect

The above playlist inventory is as follows (~1hr 48min).

To follow along with the above tutorial, download the zipped starter files (32MB).

If you have trouble with the SHATTER effect in video #8, check out this article by the shatter effect’s’ authors to see what might be going wrong. A common problem when shattering video footage is that the beginning cannot be trimmed. If you need to trim the beginning, though, you need to “Layer > Pre-Compose” to turn the video into a Composition layer. You also might need to do the same to a PSD layer if it’s not working either. Then you will likely need to manually keyframe the Shatter Effect’s sub-settings of “Force1 > Radius”, starting the beginning of the clip at “0” and ending ~”0.4″. That should make your animation visually appear. You can watch a recorded video of me helping a student with this problem.

Movie Indent Tutorial

This second tutorial focuses on making a movie production company intro (“indent”) bumper. To follow along by creating the same video, you can download the Dark Magic Productions starter files. It will cover:

  1. Part 1: What this tutorial will show you
  2. Part 2: Creating the Composition
    • importing video to set the composition resolution
    • setting the color of the composition background color
    • setting up the workspace
  3. Part 3: Creating the text
    • Setting Character Attributes: size, tracking, kerning
    • Setting orientation in Paragraph
    • Setting alignment
    • Setting Stencil Alpha Blend Mode
    • Adjusting Brightness and color of video background
  4. Part 4: Text Effects
    • Add shadows and glow to text
  5. Part 5: Creating CC Rainfall
  6. Part 6: Animating Text

Want to Extend Your Learning?

Need help creating a logo to use in your video collateral but you haven’t had a class in Photoshop or Illustrator? You can get an idea below of how to quickly make a single-color logo with gradient in this quick 2-part Photoshop tutorial:

To follow along, download the starter files here.
completed logo

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Digital Art, Design, and Communication Education