The Basics - Titles with the DV Codec

November 25, 2002

Great Titles with the DV Codec
By Philip Hodgetts


OK, realistically, they are going to be good titles. If you want great quality then you will need to follow most of these guidelines but NOT compress to the DV codec. The DV codec is not optimized for text. It was designed for real-world images where images blend together smoothly rather without hard lines. In this example see how the edges blend together cross 2 or more pixels.


Font choice

    San Serif

  • No small filigrees
  • Bold lines
  • No thin outlines
  • Horizontal lines at least 2 pixels to avoid Interlace flicker
  • 20 scan lines minimum
    • Except political and other fine print where the requirements of the job precule high quality

Examples of Good Fonts

Examples of Bad Fonts


Color & brightness

Legal Color

  • The Default for the Text Generators is not legal video

  • Work with legal color and keep all color channels within the legal limits of 16 to 235 in any R, G or B channel
    • Good NTSC white is 90%; if on a black background, it should be kept to 80% white
    • Reduce saturation in bright or dark colors
    • Compose color on video monitor, not computer
    • Gamma difference between computer and video monitor will make the video look correct on the video monitor.
    • Keep contrast down
    • White text on black = very bad

  • Add Noise to the background if going on black - use a Noise generator at 1-2% (exaggerated in this example)

Work with the scopes

  • The Waveform Monitor and Vectorscope are most important to keep titles within the legal limits.


  • NTSC Color is about 3.5 million of 16.7 million 24 bit colors.
  • Rules of Thumb
    • If it looks good on the computer, it is probably not within broadcast legal





Rise Times and Codecs

    Text can be overly sharp

    DV Codec does not like sharp, contrasty edges.

    Whatever you do ultimately it will be compressed to the output codec.

    Pre-rendering to uncompressed will not help and might make it worse.

    All the electronic factors that make the signal ring.

    White = 80%; Black = 6-10%

    Reduce opacity to 90%


Use a Keyline

    Prevents color bleed

    Provides an interim color


    Add at least one pixel of mid-tone between black and white

    Gaussian Blur filter at .3


Philip Hodgetts is the author of the DV Companion 2 and co-developer of the Intelligent Assistance approach to "What you want to know, when you want to know, how you want to know." Philip has had his own video production company since 1980 and worked on everything from long form documentary to corporate video to national TV commercial (Australia) with a strong emphasis on education and training video production.

He fell in love with Non-Linear Editing the first day he saw an Avid MCXpress, and purchased a Media 100 in late 1994. His first exposure to Final Cut Pro was at NAB 1998 when the alpha version was on limited display and immediately recognised its potential. His first Final Cut Pro job was a TV commercial that was on air in PAL the week Final Cut Pro 1.0 was released. FCP 1.0 did not officially support PAL.

His current major project (apart from updating the DV Companion, extending the Companion concept to other software and building a new website) is editing a long form documentary with 40 hours of source tapes in Final Cut Pro across the Pacific. Editing in LA with a Producer making revisions in Sydney by sending Project files by email.

You can purchase DV Companion by clicking HERE  NOTE: lafcpug gets a small percentage of sale

Copyright 2002 Intelligent Assistance, Inc and Philip Hodgetts

This article first appeared on lafcpug and is reprinted here with permission.
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