What is an Overlay in Video Editing?

overlay icon on top of green background
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Definition

An overlay in video editing is an image, video, or text that sits on top of a video. For example, if a video overlay is on top of another video, both videos would be playing simultaneously. If it were an image overlay, the video would be playing behind the image that is sitting on top of it.

When would you use a video overlay?

Using an overlay adds an additional visual element to a video. For instance, in a reaction video, the overlay video could be the original clip that the main or background video is reacting to. Text overlays can also help the viewer take in more info—with some input coming from the video audio, and then additional input from the overlaying words on the screen.

How do you create a video overlay?

Every video editing program or app is going to be different, so it’s best to consult the help pages or related support for your preferred tool. For me, I enjoy using Splice to quickly edit and upgrade videos on my phone. Splice also has an intuitive and easy-to-use overlay feature, which I’ll take you through now.

How to create a video overlay using the Splice mobile app

1. Gather your media assets

To get started, access an existing video already uploaded to Splice or click the “New project +” button to create something from scratch.

Whichever way you choose to go about creating your video overlay, you’re going to want to gather all of your elements and visual assets together on your device so that you can easily upload and add to Splice.

2. Add the overlay

Look at the toolbar at the bottom of your screen and select “overlay.” Once you do, you’ll be directed to your photo/video reel. Select the image or video you’d like to overlay on top of your video and click “add.”

finding overlay in splice

Now, you’ll see your original video track, but you’ll also see your new media in blue in an additional track on top of the video. In the preview screen, you’ll also see the media sitting on top of the video.

resizing an image overlay on top of a video

3. Make sizing and placement adjustments

Now that you have your two media pieces together in the same project, you can make adjustments to your overlay and visual.

For example, let’s say I’m doing a Canva tutorial on TikTok. I have my original video here of this cute dog on Canva, however, the menus on the left are cut off in order to maximize my screen space with the main video element. This makes it difficult to walk users through the tutorial if I’m referencing things like editing and design tools that can’t be on screen.

But with the overlay, I can place an image of the thing I’m referencing right on top of the video so that the video can play, I can give the instruction, and the overlay can show what I’m talking about.

In terms of making adjustments, you can shrink or enlarge the overlaying image with a simple pinch just like you’d to when zooming in and out on a photo. You can also easily drag the image around the screen for placement wherever you wish.

As you can see in the above, I’ve shrunk my overlaying image and have moved it to the left side of the screen to not cover the dog but to also be plenty visible when I need it to be.

4. Edit for duration

Next, you’ll also want to edit the duration of the overlay—that is, deciding when the overlay will appear, how long it will stay on screen, and when it will disappear.

By default per the steps above, the overlay will be added to wherever your editing cursor is at the time of hitting the “overlay” option. In my case, I was at the beginning of my original video, so the overlaying image was also added to the beginning.

If you want the overlay to appear at a later time, simply long-press the blue element until the color turns orange. You’ll also feel the reverberation just like when you drag-and-drop iPhone apps across your screen. Now can simply drag the overlaying image wherever you’d like.

Here I’ve moved the overlay to about the 11-second mark.

showing how to mover an overlay to later in a video clip

Next, we will want to decide how long we want the image to stay on-screen. To do this, just grab the left or right arrows at the beginning and end of the image track and drag to the right to extend the length toward the end of the video.

showing how to extend the duration of an overlay

And that’s it! Happy video editing.

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