FCP X: Fun with Titles
Here is a collection of ten fun facts about Titles in Final Cut Pro X that you may not know. I discovered in writing this article that the subject was much more complex than I first thought. So I expanded this to include text, backgrounds, and animation, in addition to titles.
There are four tabs at the top of the Inspector when a Title is selected in the Timeline: Title, Text, Video, and Info.
- Title controls animation and presentation of the entire title.
- Text controls text and styling of the text contained within the title.
- Video contains all the standard video motion controls that are part of the default settings for any clip.
- Info provides access to the metadata associated with a clip.
Most of the time, you’ll animate a title using the Title tab and style the text using Text.
TEXT IN HIGH-DEFINITION LOOKS BETTER THAN TEXT IN STANDARD-DEFINITION
The problem with standard definition is there are not a lot of pixels in each image. This means that you need to keep text sizes larger, fatter, and very clean. No serifs, no scripts, no thin letters.
Here’s an article I wrote a while ago that goes into this in detail. I wrote this for FCP 7, but it still applies to FCP X.
CREATE A TEXT GRAPHIC
Need to create a screen full of text? Many of the text formats only allow the title in the upper half, with text in the lower half of the title.
But, if you select Fade, you can position the Title anywhere on the screen – either by dragging or changing the vertical alignment button in the Text tab.
Then, add as much body text as you can fit on the screen by typing it in the text entry box in the Text tab, rather than on the screen. You can style the text using the settings farther down in the Text tab.
To turn off the Fade animation behavior be sure that Build In and Build Out are unchecked in the Title tab.
CREATE A BACKGROUND GRAPHIC
The blue background in the screen shot above uses the gradient generator with the Type set to Radial.
MORE BETTER BACKGROUNDS
However, a much more flexible background choice for text is Fabric. Especially when you combine it with a few other filters.
This is Fabric > Sisal 1 with:
- Tint color set to dark blue
- Gaussian Blur filter with horizontal set to 100% and Vertical set to 0%
- Vignette filter applied with the default settings.
Notice how different text colors with the same drop shadow are easier, or harder, to read.
BETTER SPORTS STATS
You may have discovered the Stats title. Here are some other ideas to try:
- Add a Hold frame where the title starts (Press Shift+H to create a Hold frame at the position of the playhead) and stretch it to run the duration of the stats title.
- In the Inspector, you can add video clips, as well as still images, to both the logo drop zone and the player drop zone.
STARTING CLIPS IN THE MIDDLE
Drop zones always play video clips from the start of the clip. To have the clip start somewhere other than the beginning, create a compound clip and edit the video into it so that the clip starts when you want.
Then, add that compound clip to the drop zone.
NOTE: Be sure to render this effect before trying to play it.
PREVENTING UGLY TEXT
It was driving me nuts. I love good type design and every time I changed the font in FCP X it looked AWFUL! I was really depressed. Surely the text in all these titles wasn’t that bad?
If you are getting ugly text: thin, blocky, rough edges… select the text and turn OFF the Outline option in the Text tab. When the outline is gone, the text looks great!
SOMETHING THAT DOESN’T MOVE – YET
Many of the titles in FCP X are animated. Which is nice, if you want your text to move. But, what if you want it to stand still?
That’s where the Custom title comes in. By default, the Custom title is a full-screen title with no default animation.
However, there is a wide variety of animation controls associated with this title:
- In/Out Opacity. When set to 100%, title pops on and off. When set to any number less than 100, this determines the speed of title animation at the beginning or the end. Animation style is determined by the In Unit menu farther down the Title tab.
- In/Out Position. Determines the starting/ending position for text animation.
- In/Out Scale: Determines the starting/ending size of text during text animation.
- In/Out Rotation. Determines the starting/ending rotation position when animating text.
- In/Out Tracking. Determines the starting/ending inter-letter spacing when animating text.
By now you should start to see a trend. By default, this title doesn’t move. However, it provides plenty of animation when you need to get things moving.
STOP SOMETHING FROM MOVING
Is there a title you like, but you don’t like the movement? Easy to fix.
- Select the title in the Timeline.
- In the Title tab of the Inspector, turn off Build In to stop the animation at the beginning of the clip.
- Turn off Build Out to stop animation at the end of the clip.
- Toggling these checkboxes enables or disables any animation associated with any title effect.
For example, in this screen shot, the title will animate on, but remain stationary at the end of the clip. This would be a typical use when you want to have a title end as you cut from one shot to another.
MAKE THE BASIC LOWER THIRD A BIT LESS BASIC
You may have noticed that the basic lower third just aligns to the left edge of the screen. You may also have noticed that it seems to want to stay there, because there is no alignment button to center the lower third, or align it right. Worse, even if you realign it, the text chops off on the left side.
Sigh… The Basic Lower Third title is not your friend.
What to do? Use a different lower-third: Middle.
By default, Middle aligns text center. If you need to align the text left or right:
- Double-click each line of text and change the alignment option in the Text tab to left or right.
- Then, using the Transform setting in the Video tab move the text left or right.
It isn’t the ideal way to position text, but it works a whole lot better than the Basic Lower Third and the quality is perfectly fine.
WANT SOMETHING DIFFERENT? CREATE IT IN MOTION 5
Want to create something completely different?
Fire up Motion 5 and create your own title effect. Be sure to select the FCP X Title option in the Welcome screen. As soon as you save the Motion project, it shows up in the Title Browser in FCP X.
Nothing like Motion to unleash your creativity.
Need some help getting started with Motion? Here’s a recent video tutorial that can help.