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how to create animated instagram stories

A tutorial on how to create beautiful moving video Instagram stories with custom text or photo overlays. A great skill for contemporary, engaging marketing and branding.

Browsing Pinterest the other day, I stumbled upon this amazing animated Instagram story from Ana & Yvy.

I loved the idea of it but wanted to make it more my own style. Here's how you can use original or royalty free video files to create beautiful animated templates for your Instagram story or grid!


First, you'll need to figure out which dimensions to use. The graphic above gives you the dimensions for my favorite ways to post, which are vertical. Depending on the type of post, you'll need to use different settings when creating the final video in your editing software. I prefer to make story sized videos, because that is as tall as they will ever have to be. That way, if I wanted to then put the same file on my grid, Instagram would automatically cut it down to size for me. But it is up to your project and how you plan to use these elements!

choosing video files

Next, find some cool video to use in the background of your post. So far, I have had amazing luck getting royalty free files from Pexels, which is sort of like Unsplash, but has a videos tab. To get you started, I put together a collection of videos I think would work well for this sort of post. Feel free to browse wherever you like to find resources or use your own files, just keep a few things in mind when selecting your own:

  • Videos that are in slow motion or are slow moving work best, because they are less distracting from the overlay material.

  • Similarly, videos that are shot from a stationary position (e.g., a tripod) work better because they are easier to watch.

  • Think about the final cropping of your video. Some of the free videos available will be shot in portrait mode, but not all. Landscape videos that have something you don't like (such as a human subject or things in the background) can actually just be cropped!


Once you have a video selected and downloaded to your computer, it's time to start designing the final product! Currently, I have been using the Adobe Suite to assemble mine—Premiere Pro and Illustrator.

A note on Premiere Pro: I had to switch my render settings so that the app would even open/function on my computer. For Mac users struggling with slow work or spinning beachballs, open File > Project Settings > General and then change the 'Renderer' from whatever it was ('OpenCL' or 'Metal') to the other one. Here's a helpful tutorial on it.

To begin designing, open up Premiere Pro and start a new project. Give it a name and keep all of the standard settings (or whichever settings you prefer). Then import your video file through File > Import and selecting it. Once it is imported, drag it from the library into the V1 (video 1) work area. This is the first step to being able to crop your video.

To make your video vertical so that you can see how it will look in the end, you need to edit your frame size. To do this, click Sequence > Sequence Settings, and then adjust your horizontal and vertical settings to match whichever Instagram post type you want. I'm using 1080x1920 for a story/IGTV. When you change the settings, the ratio should go to 9:16. Click OK and then accept that this will crop your video. It's okay, you'll be able to move it around within the crop later.

Select the portion of the video you'd like to use on the work area. A lot of the Pexels ones are short and sweet, so perfect for the 15 second time limit per Instagram story. But even if it is longer, Instagram will keep uploading it in sequence.

If you need to, adjust the scale of the video by clicking on the clip in the work area and then selecting 'Effect Controls' under the 'Graphics' heading on your toolbar. You can either input a specific percentage or use the slider to adjust the size.

Once the scale is to your liking, you can adjust the crop of the video by double clicking on the preview space. A boundary box should show up. Click the edge of it and drag the video to the location you'd like. Keep in mind that as the video plays, the crop will change! Be sure to watch it all the way through to make sure you're satisfied with the look.

Now we're ready to create the overlay! The sky is the limit to what you want to overlay and how, but I really liked the square from the original inspiration story. So I opened Adobe Illustrator (this can also be done in Photoshop) and made a canvas sized the same as my cropped video (1080x1920). That way it will be easier to see the scale of the final product, and will be simpler to overlay once it is in Premiere Pro.

It's time to design! I made this in about five minutes, but you can create whatever you'd like, including text, shapes, and photos. The biggest tip here is to make sure there is enough blank space on your artboard so that the video underneath will show through. Make sure you put a completely transparent (no color or outline) bounding box around you canvas so that when we export, the entire artboard will come with it.

When you are ready to export, hit File > Export for Screens, and select the PNG format option. I've included a screenshot of the settings I normally use. Hit 'Export Artboard' and find your PNG file. It should have a transparent background and be ready to import into Premiere Pro. The same way you imported your video file, import your PNG (File > Import).

Once the image shows up in your library, drag it into the V2 (video 2) row on your work space. This will overlay the image on top of your moving video. Adjust the scale if you need to, and drag to lengthen the bar so that it matches the length of your original video clip. If you know about Premiere Pro and would like to add other effects, fades, or music, this is the time to do it. Otherwise, your overlay should be done!

exporting for instagram

To export the file for Instagram, click File > Export > Media. This is the most important step: change the file format to H.264. The first time I tried this I used an MP4 and it did not work. The H.264 file will allow you to keep the cropping you already did, and export with the highest quality. Here are the rest of the settings I use:

  • Preset: Match Source - High Bitrate

  • Frame rate: 24

  • Field Order: Progressive

  • Aspect: Square Pixels (1.0)

  • TV Standard: PAL (this you might have to adjust)

  • Check 'Render at Maximum Depth'

  • Profile: Main

  • Level: 4.1 (this will change based on the quality of video you used)

  • Bitrate Encoding: VBR, 1 pass

  • Target Bitrate: 15

  • Maximum Bitrate: 15

  • Check 'Use Maximum Render Quality'

Then, hit export! It might take a minute depending on how long your video file was. Go find your video file and then AirDrop it to your phone (or however you share files). It will show up in your Photos, which you can then select to upload as a story or a grid video in Instagram.

Now you have a whole new skill to step up your Instagram game! This was so fun for me to make, and the possibilities are endless. I hope you learned something new, and that you enjoy creating these fun projects.

Tag me at @mugglehugstudio to show me what you design!


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