The Basics - Boris Text Generators

January 14, 2002

Boris Calligraphy: Text Generators for Final Cut Pro 3
Title Creation and Animation with 'Title 3D' and 'Title Crawl'

By Ken Stone


Final Cut Pro 3 ships with Boris Calligraphy, two Text Generators, Title 3D and Title Crawl. Although they're two separate generators, they share a number of common features, most notably, a full-featured text entry window. Together they help fill one of the biggest needs that FCP users have had, better text tools.

Title 3D generator is vector graphics, the Title Crawl generator is bitmapped. When installing FCP 3 you will have the option of installing these two generators into the Effects Browser during the FCP install process.

Title 3D

The Boris Text Generators are used in the same manner as the other items in the Effects Browser. You can drag the Title 3D generator to the TimeLine on V 1. This will give you text on a black background. You can place video or a still image on V 1 and then the Title 3D generator on V 2 to superimpose the text over V 1.

Double click on the 3D generator on the TL to load it into the Viewer and then click on the Controls tab. The Boris Text window will open automatically. The "Title 3D" box at the top of the Controls Panel (shown below) can be clicked at any time to return to the Boris Text window to further edit your text. There are two areas where you work on text. You set your text and apply effects, like Bevel, Glow, Skew, in the Text window. You fly the text through space in the Controls tab. Text window effects are not Keyframable. If you want to Keyframe a drop shadow you would do that in the Motions tab.

The Boris Text window is shown below with some text set and with the text selected. Please note that for this article I have made the text box much smaller than it actually is for better download times. In the bottom half of the Text window, on the left hand side, are five tabs.

The Style (Text) Tab is where you set and control your text (Red arrow below).

  • Font selection. To the right of the Font selection box are two buttons for scrolling through the fonts list.
  • Font size, you can enter a custom font size by typing a numeric value into the size box. Two size buttons (Aa - aA) that increase/decrease font size by 10.
  • Six Style buttons. Text can be set as normal, bold, italic, underlined, superscript and subscript.
  • Flush left, centered and flush right text alignment.
  • Tracking, which adds equal amounts of space between each letter globally.
  • Kerning, which is used to adjust the space between individual letters.
  • Leading, which controls the amount of space between each line of text.


Additional controls for horizontal and vertical skewing of the text and horizontal and vertical scaling of the text. With the Baseline control you can raise or lower any selected letters in relation to the non selected letters. At the bottom of the box is an 'Import File' button. This is for importing text that has already been typed in a word processor application like 'simple' text. This saves you from having to retype your text into the Text window. Imported text retains its formatting and is fully editable in Boris. One caveat, for Credit Rolls and Text Crawls imported text does not retain it's full formatting. You will have to do the formatting in Calligraphy.

In order to edit text in the Text window you must always select the text or letters of the text first, then make your changes.

The Page Tab allows you to set the page margines as well as control 'text wrap'. The default is to 'Title Safe', so no adjustments are necessary if you want 'Title Safe' to be your page size. The Text Wrap pop-up is where you set whether or not to use the page size. If "wrap" is off, the text will extend off to the right as far as you want, this is what you'd do if you want to create a Title Crawl.

The Fill Tab is used to set the color of your text, apply a gradient and control the opacity of your text.

When in the color mode clicking on the Style Color button will produce a color wheel for color selection. You can select the color picker (eyedropper) and pick a color from the Rainbow color bar found between the text box and the lower portion of the window. If you click on the Rainbow with your cursor it will turn to Black and White, you can then use the eyedropper to sample grayscale. Interesting to note, you can use the eyedropper outside of Boris, it will sample color from the Canvas window or anywhere on your screen. The easiest way to create outline text is to first turn out on 'Outlines', then uncheck the 'Fill On' box.


The Gradient box shown below. Linear and Radial gradients are available.

The Border (Edge) Tab allows you to Bevel or Glow/Outline your text. You also have the option of setting the position of these effects to Center, Inside and Outside. In Edge Style you can apply five different effects to your text. Think of this as five layers, each layer independent of the others. Just to the right of the Tabs is a column of five check boxes. A box must be checked to make that layer active (Red X). To the right of these check boxes is yet another column of tabs, each one for a different applied effect (T1, T2, T3, T4, T5). To switch between effects you must click the tab of the effect you want to work on. You can control the Edge Color, Width, Opacity and Softness.

The Shadow Tab enables you to add a Drop, Cast or Solid Shadow. As with the Border tab above you can apply five different settings to your text.

There are a row of buttons along the bottom of the Text window. First on the left is the Styles button, 'Basic' shows only the text in the window with no effects applied. This speeds up the process when making changes. 'All' styles shows all effects but takes a moment to render when changes are made. The next button 'Size' controls the viewing size of the text in the window, but has no effect on the actual size of the text. 'Reset Style' returns the settings to default, no effects applied. The 'Style Palette' is where you name and save your settings. You can even choose which attributes of your style you want included in your 'favorites'. 'Import File' for importing text. The 'Cancel' button closes the Text window and returns you to the control tab in the Viewer with none of the changes that you made since opening the window applied. The last button, 'Apply' closes the Text window and applies the effects to the clip which can be viewed in the Canvas and NTSC.

The Styles Palette, shown below.

The Text window is where text is set and effects are applied. This is where you create the look of your text. You can return to this window at any time to make additional changes. Remember that the text must always be selected to make changes.

The Controls Tab

So what makes this a 3D generator? It's the ability to fly your text three dimensionally through space. This is accomplished by using the settings in the Controls tab and Keyframing motion over time.

The first setting in the Controls tab is the '1:2:1 Deflicker'. This setting is used to remove flicker on vertically scrolling text and works by applying a very slight one pixel blur to the text.

In the Geometry section you can set the position of the text numerically or by using the '+' button and clicking in the Canvas widow for placement. The Distance control moves the text further away/closer to you. I set some text in 48 pt. with very soft drop shadows and used the Distance control to push it all the way back at the start of the clip and then all the way out at the end of the clip. I dropped this on to a sunset. The text flew out at me passing overhead. The soft drop shadows were like wisps of clouds shooting by. The motion was superb, smooth . . . but I digress. You can change the Scale of the text both the height and width proportionally or independently of each other. The Tumble, Spin and Rotate move the text as a single unit.

The Pivot control is like an anchor point around which the text can Tumble, Spin and Rotate. At least one of these effects must be applied for the Pivot control to work. Click on the '+' button in the Pivot setting and then click and drag in the Canvas window to change the Pivot point. The Transformations section has some of the same controls that are found in the Text window. The difference here is that in the Controls tab these effects are Keyframeable. The last three items; Letter Tumble, Spin and Rotate are applied to each letter of text.

Title Crawl

Well, doing Title Rolls and Crawls can not be any easier than this. No Keyframing required. Drag the Boris Title Crawl generator to the TimeLine. Select the generator on the TL and from the Modify menu select Duration. Set the duration that you want and click 'Okay'. Now double click on the generator on the TL to load it into the Viewer. Click on the Controls tab.

The Title Crawl Text box is identical to the 3D Text box. All controls, tabs and effects work in exactly the same manner.

Once you have set your text click on the Apply button, which will return you to the Controls tab. In the Controls tab, the first Animation setting, Animation Style, offers the choice of None, Roll (up and down) and Crawl (from one side to the other). The next two settings, Mask Start and End allows you to place a mask at either the top and bottom or on both side of the screen so that the text does not appear at the edges of the TV screen. This might be used when your Project is in a Letterbox format. You would not want the text to appear in the black borders of the Letterbox.

The next two settings, Blend Start and End causes the text to fade in and out at the top and bottom of the screen (see below). Reverse Direction does just that. Position X/Y is for repositioning your text in the Canvas window. You can use the '+' button and then click in the Canvas for text placement. The last setting changes the Opacity of the text.

I said that using the Title Crawl is easy. It is. Set the duration of the clip generator and set your text. The generator will automatically apply the motion to your Credit Roll. If you make changes after you have set the text, Boris will recalculate everything for you. BTW, it now seems that FCP 3 generators are no longer restricted to 2 minutes, you can give a generator any length you want.

There is an excellent PDF document on these two Title generators that can be found in the Extras folder on the FCP 3 CD. There is a Boris FX support button at the bottom of the Text box which will take you to the Boris web site for free technical support. Both of these Boris Text generators are excellent. A real nice and much needed addition to the Effects Browser.



copyright © Ken Stone 2002


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