A countdown timer is an excellent way to kick off your video. While you can download various countdown timer videos from YouTube, creating your own is a viable option. With this skill, you can craft a countdown video to ring in the New Year.

Creating a timer in After Effects is straightforward. The duration of the countdown timer can range from 10 to 0 or even from 1,000,000 to 0, based on your preference. Once you’ve set up the basic effect, you can further customize it by adding backgrounds, effects, colors, and more.

Above is an example where I employed this technique to create a countdown timer that counts from 10 to 0. After completing the timer, I added a background and applied a shine effect to the numbers.

Creating A Countdown Timer in After Effects

To create a Countdown Timer,

  1. Create a new composition. After that, create a new Solid Layer. You can do so by going into Layer > New > Solid. Make sure the solid is exactly your composition size.
  2. Now select the Solid Layer you just created and go into Effects > Text > Number. This will apply the Numbers plugin on the solid layer. We will be using this to create our Countdown Timer.
  3. When you click on Numbers, you will be prompted with a pop-up where you can choose a Font, Style, Alignment i.e. Left, Right, or Center, and Direction i.e. Horizontal or Vertical. Choose the appropriate settings and click on OK.
    countdown timer 1
  4. You will see 0.000 in your composition. Now, we will alter a few values under the settings panel of the Numbers plugin.
  5. Since we are creating a Counter Timer like 10,9,8,…and so on, we do not require the decimal values. So decrease the Decimal Places from 3 or any other value to 0 so that we get a whole number.
    countdown timer 2
  6. Now, increase or decrease the size according to your needs. You can also change the Fill Color to change the color of the Font.
  7. Now we will use the Value/Offset/Random Max value to create a Countdown. We are going to create a Timer that goes from 10 to 0.
  8. We will be using keyframes to create the Timer. using the timeline slider, go to the frame from where you want the Countdown Timer to start.
  9. Now, click on the stopwatch at the Value/Offset/Random Max, this will add a keyframe. Change its value from 0 to 10.
    countdown timer 3
  10. Move the timeline slider 10 frames forward, since we are creating a 10-second countdown. For instance, if you wish to create a 30-second Countdown Timer, then set the Value/Offset/Random Max to 30 and move 30 frames forward in the timeline.
  11. After moving 10 frames forward, change the Value/Offset/Random Max value back to 0. It will add a keyframe to your timeline.
    countdown timer 4
  12. RAM preview the composition to check if your Countdown Timer works or not. Experiment and play with the looks to customize the appearance of the Timer.
You can also use an adjustment layer rather than a Solid Layer to create the Countdown Timer. This will allow you to have transparency so that a background can be added into the composition.