Want to know how to make a professional lyric video? Envato Tuts+ Video Editor, Tom Graham, explains how he created a fun, fast-paced lyric video using Elements.
If you want to create an engaging music video but don’t have the budget for a full-fledged production, this post on how to make a lyric video might be for you! Entertaining to watch and easy to make, a lyric video can be a fun, affordable alternative to a traditional music video. Plus, lyric videos are trending thanks to YouTube and other social platforms.
A lyric video is a music video that shows the lyrics to a song on screen in time with the music. While it’s a simple idea, lyric videos are becoming popular for artists or labels who want to produce content quickly and affordably. Lyric videos can include animation, stock footage, photography, fonts, or all of the above.
Envato Tuts+ YouTube presenter, Tom Graham, is an expert in creating video content – from quick tutorials to full-length feature films. An experienced video producer specializing in post-production, editing, motion graphics, and color grading content, Tom has worked in the film industry for over a decade, producing TV commercials, feature films and TV shows, and educational content.
As someone who uses Envato Elements daily and is privy to all the platform’s fantastic video creation assets, Tom challenged himself to create a full-length lyric music video consisting entirely of video templates, fonts, and stock footage available through Elements. And boy, did he deliver!
I had the idea early on once I started creating videos for the Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel. I use a lot of great assets from Elements in my videos, and through that process, I spend a lot of time sifting through the video templates library. I challenged myself to see if I could create a project using only Elements.
Two essential things were at the front of my mind during this process. The first was ensuring I represented the band correctly – the band (Damaged Goods Club) has a powerful aesthetic, and I wanted to ensure I captured that in the video.
The second thing was making the video itself as entertaining as possible. Lyric videos tend to become a bit samey-samey after the first verse or chorus. I wanted to ensure that the audience enjoyed the visuals as much as the music and kept watching and listening to the last beat.
The first part of the process for this lyric video, and any music video I’ve worked on, is to bring the track into your editing program of choice and lay the lyrics over the top in basic text layers. This gives you a bird’s eye view of how the track is visually laid out, and from there, you can start to map out where different elements will sit within the timeline of the video and the song.
From there, it was just a matter of picking a part of the song, choosing a video template, and experimenting to see what worked. I thought I would approach it linearly, but I ended up jumping all over the place within the track, doing some work on the first chorus, then on the last verse, then on the intro, and so on, until I filled in all of the gaps. It’s like a giant digital jigsaw puzzle.
You can see more of my process in this video, where I talk through my favorite sequences that I put together for the clip.
Do as much copy + paste as you can. If you know you’ll reuse techniques or visual sequences elsewhere in the timeline, there’s no point building it all again from scratch. I did a lot of copying + pasting, mainly with the text elements I was changing to fit new lyrics in different parts of the track. Work smarter, not harder – especially on a complex project with many moving parts, different programs, and hundreds of assets.
Another tip is to stay as organized as possible. It’s easy to let a project like this get away from you, but you’ll thank yourself later for keeping things tidy. It will make your life much less stressful.
Finally, keep it moving! If you’re bored even for a split second while reviewing sequences, imagine what the viewer must feel like. Change up the visuals as much as possible while maintaining consistency and coherence.
As you can imagine, I used A LOT of assets in this project, which was vital to keep it visually interesting the whole way through. I made an Elements Collection that you can check out with all the items used; however, I’ve listed two of my favorites below.
I loved this asset because it’s so well put together and high-quality. It was super straightforward to tweak for my own use and aesthetic without spending a lot of unnecessary time doing things like rotoscoping.
The band has a very Y2K look and feel, so I wanted to create a sequence that felt like the early days of the web – but more bubblegum than hacker. This pack ticked that description to a tee.
I did the editing, layout, and mastering for this project in DaVinci Resolve. It’s the best free editing program available now; it’s become my go-to program for editing videos. It’s packed with features that seasoned editors like me use daily, but it’s also straightforward to learn the ropes and begin your journey as a new editor. (I have a complete beginner’s guide on the Tuts+ YouTube channel if you want to take the step into editing in DaVinci Resolve).
For most of the video template and animation work, I used Adobe After Effects, the powerhouse workhorse in that arena, for many years. There are some outstanding After Effects templates on Elements created by talented artists. I used Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator for all the Graphic Templates and even dipped into Premiere Pro for a couple of the video templates used in the project.
I quite literally couldn’t have done this project without Elements. Being able to think of an idea and then go to Elements to find an asset to fit that idea was invaluable. Using Elements removes any delay between the ideation and implementation of an idea.
My primary learning from this project was that, even though I had a good idea of how I wanted to lay things out, it didn’t necessarily work out that way. I changed sequences, removed and added sections, duplicated sections, and so on as I got more comfortable with the song and the visual style. Being open to change and not too stuck on one idea helped bring this project over the line.
The best thing about Elements is the speed between sparking an idea and placing that idea into an edit. I can be working on an edit, have an idea for a graphic, stock video, or sound effect, and in a couple of clicks, I’ve found the perfect asset and can also download five more in case that one doesn’t fit. Not only that, it’s the ease with which you can customize those assets to fit your needs.
Let’s say you find the perfect video template, but it’s in a completely different color palette. With minimal effort and a basic understanding of After Effects, you can jump into professionally created and well-organized project files, make the changes you need, export that complex graphic, and drop it into your edit in no time. That’s days of work saved by a subscription to Elements!
Shoot constantly, find like-minded people to practice with, take photos, and study films. Know that the early work will not be your best work. Know you’re never the absolute best at what you do because art is subjective but strive to continue to learn and grow. Gear isn’t everything; cameras, lights, and all the fun, expensive toys are just tools. The best camera is the one you have on you. Be open to critical feedback and understand how to grow from that.
Ultimately the best thing I think you can do as someone aspiring to be a cinematographer, in general, is to study light and composition – not camera specs: which can come later. Sit in your lounge room at 7am, and watch how light comes through the window and sits on the wall. Come back at midday, 2pm, 4pm, and sunset to see how it differs and what qualities you see in that light. Next time you’re out shooting, look for those things through the viewfinder. You’d be surprised at how much influence light, or the absence of light, can have on a narrative.