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Behind the Scenes: Using Graphics on Top of Video

graphics over video

The technique of using graphics on top of video footage is both clever and cool. Not only can it look pretty slick, it also gives you the chance to communicate in multiple ways in every frame of video. I think a good way to put it is that graphics can be used to communicate ideas intellectually while video is better suited to engage via emotion.

The key to making these videos is planning. Each shot should be planned so that shot leaves negative space for the graphics. There’s surely some situations where they could be added after the fact but that plan probably relies on a good bit more luck.

Let’s look at some examples of how video and graphics can be combined to communicate together. Note: Most of these are just videos I dug up but the Prep Pad one is one we did. 

In this first example the camera moves through the environment as the graphics explain what you are seeing. Some people refer to this as ‘call outs’ in that they call out our attention to certain things. In these shots you’ll see plenty of extra room in the frame for the text

In this next example the text is used with a bit more personality. The concept of this video revolves around word scrambles that rearrange to show different ways of using the same letters. In this regard, the letters not only clarify the word scrambles, they are also re-enforcing the key creative concept of the video. In a way, it’s all about the letters, the footage is actually supporting the text.

Graphics can also be used over video to underscore what’s being said or shown. In this example the graphics imitate the way that the app works, growing as it calculates the weight and ingredients in food items. By using animated motion graphics in this way you can help the audience better understand the core ideas you’re trying to communicate.

Graphics are also a great way to help the audience organize their thoughts. In this video, graphics are used to create a list of tips. You might also look at using them for chapters or sub-sections.


Graphics combined with live action video are a great way to capture the strengths of each communication format while making your video more effective. Some things are better shown that said with voice over and at times graphics can be the one practical way to explain or underscore key points. Live action video also has it’s place, it’s frequently the best way to communicate emotion through lighting, facial expressions and action. Use both together and you can get something more impactful that using one format alone.

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