The Basics - Credit Rolls and Text Crawls for FCP

Photoshop Credit Rolls and Text Crawls for FCP
By Ken Stone

This article is being displayed here until the 2-pop Library is restored at the 2-pop web site.

There are two types of Credit Rolls. First, a CR with a solid non-transparent background. Second, a CR with a transparent background for placement over a video clip. Methods for making both types of CRs are discussed below.

Credit Roll with a solid non-transparent background.

In Photoshop you can easily make Credit Rolls and Text Crawls (see below for text crawls) with a 'non-transparent' background for FCP. There are several advantages to using Photoshop to do this work. First you can use PostScript fonts as well as True Type. Second you can use layers to make CR's with mixed type styles, fonts, and colors. One disadvantage, you are creating a image file so that at a later time you will not be able to go back in and make changes to your titles like you can when you use a text generator in FCP. Check your spelling the first time around.

To create a CR with white type on a black 'non transparent' background (you can use any colors you want) open PS. First set your foreground and background colors at the bottom of the tool palette. Open a new file, size width = 720 x height = 3,000 pixels (you can go to 4,000), set dpi to 72, Mode to RGB and Contents 'colored background'.

With your new file open, from the Layers palette make new layer, call it 'text layer'. You will set your type on this layer. Using your 'text tool' click inside your image and try to click in the center of the image from left to right. You can turn on 'rulers' to help you with this.

In the 'text dialog box' choose either the center, flush right, or flush left radio button. Pick your font, style, and size. I have found that 20 to 28 point type works well. If you are using PS 3.0.5 you can double space in between each line of text. In newer versions of PS set your leading for the amount of space in between each line of type. To start you might try leading of at lease twice your font size plus 15.

When you have finished setting your type, select your 'crop' tool. You will want to crop from just above the first line of text to just below the bottom line of text, be careful to select the full 720 pixel width. Cropping will make your file as small as possible. Now, from the layers palette select 'flatten image'. Save.

You can achieve more complex CRs by creating a second layer and placing type on it. You might want to use this approach if you want to use two different fonts, size of font, colors or styles (bold, italic, etc) on each line. You can have the characters name on the left in one font (this layer will be flush right in the 'text tool' dialog box) then on your second layer the actors name to the right of the characters name in a different font (this layer will be flush left). In PS 5.0 you can use two different size fonts on the same line and as long as the 'leading' for each layer is the same (set 'baseline' to 0). The lines of text from each layer will line up down the page. Once you have created your two layers you can move one layer up, down, right, or left to align your type. You can use the magnifier tool to help see your type. You can have as many layers as you want. Flatten image and Save.

Import your CR image into FCP and place it on the TL. You can set the duration of your CR by dragging the clip in the TL. With your playhead at the start of the image in the TL, from the Canvas window choose 'wireframe and image' and 'title safe'. Hold down the shift key (this will keep the image from moving from side to side) drag your text all the way down until the blue line at the top of the 'motions frame' box is on the 'action safe' border at the bottom. Set a keyframe from the button at the bottom of the Canvas window. On the TL move your playhead to the very end of your CR clip, in the Canvas drag the image up until the blue line at the bottom of the 'motions frame' box is on the 'action safe' border at the top. Set keyframe. Now render, you will notice that in 1.2 rendering time will be very fast.

If you are not happy with the speed or length of your scroll you can do one of two things.

Select the image in the TL, then menu > modify > speed, and change the speed. If you use this approach you will be faced with a very long render time.

Better to double click the CR in the TL to open it in the Viewer window. In the Viewer window 'video' tab drag the out point to set your new duration. Now click on the 'Motion' tab in the Viewer. You may want to open your Motion window to the right to see the Motions TL better. Look carefully at the TL side of the Motions window, you will see your new duration as a light gray bar/stripe, running from left to right, that ends with a thin white vertical line. Click on the black diamond in the 'Center' row and drag it so that it is now on top of the thin white line. Render. When done don't forget to resize your Viewer window.

Credit Roll with a transparent background for use over a video clip.

First you need to decide if you want dark or light type for your CR. With PS open > file > prefs > Transparency & Gamut. If you plan to use white or a light colored type, from this window make 'grid size' small. Set 'Grid Colors' to dark. This will enable you to see your text in the file as you work. If you want your type to be black or dark in color, from this window set "Grid Colors" to light. Click Okay.

In Photoshop open a new file as described above only set 'Contents' to Transparent and open your file. When you are done and if you only have one layer simply Save. If you have more then one layer, from the 'Layers' palette choose 'merge layers' and Save. Do NOT flatten image.

Import this file into FCP. You will notice that it shows in your Browser as a 'Sequence'. We will convert this Sequence to a Clip with the alpha channel preserved (transparent background). Place this Sequence anywhere on your TL and double click to open. You will now see it as 'layered text'. Click on the 'layered text' and drag it back into your Browser. This flattens it into a clip, and maintains the alpha channel. Rename it if you like. You can now delete the Sequence from both your TL and Browser. Drag the resulting clip from the Browser and superimpose it over your video. Now proceed to animate your CR as described in the first section. You can add a 'drop shadow' to your CR to make it stand out from the video, in the motions tab, check the 'drop shadow' box and adjust your settings.

Where to start? For 50 to 75 lines of text, 24 pt. type double spaced, an image height of 3,000 pixels will provide plenty of room, you will need to crop out the extra space when done setting type. A duration of 45 to 60 seconds will work. Render time 8 to 10 minutes for a solid non-transparent background, a CR with a transparent background placed over video will take a bit longer to render. Season to taste.

Text Crawls

To generate Text Crawls across the bottom of your screen you will use the procedures outlined above. The only difference with Text Crawls is the orientation of your file. Horizontal rather then vertical. Give your new file a Height of 480 and a Width of 3,000. For Title Safe, be sure to place your crawl at least 70 pixels up from the bottom of your image. Turn on rulers and use PS Prefs to set your ruler to pixels. You can make final adjustments to the height of your Text Crawl in the Canvas window when setting up your motion. Hold down the shift key to keep the image from moving from top to bottom while you drag your text.




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