Creating blockbuster titles

This time we will be looking at how to use your video as a background to be inserted within a title. This effect is really a simple process that can produce a nice result. We suggest as a starting point using your own footage taken at the beach, a park or even just shooting a cloudy sky.

Video editors usually stress the ‘less is more’ rule when offering advice to new users, who are inclined initially to include heaps of 3D effects, twirling titles and elaborate transitions in their first projects. However, an opening title sequence is one aspect of production in which creating something unusual can enhance your movie, as well as being a fantastic way to draw in your audience.

We will be using Adobe Premiere Pro to step through creating this effect, although any video editing program that supports transparencies and Matte Tracks will also be able to create it.

Staying on track

The Track Matte key allows you to show one clip through another by using a third file to create transparent areas in the superimposed clip. To find the Track Matte Key, go to the Effects panel in the Project window and select Video Effects-Keying-Track Matte Key. To work with the Track Matte Key, select the video track and then drag the plug-in into the Effects Control panel. White areas as they appear in the matte appear solid in the superimposed clip, preventing underlying clips from showing through. Black areas as they appear in the matte are transparent in the superimposed clip, and grey areas will be partially transparent. The final effect, shown in FIGURE 1, is created through the use of black text for the title, allowing the Track Matte to treat the text area as totally transparent.

To begin, select the video footage you will use within the title sequence. For example, if you want to convey action heralding an adventure movie, you could use footage of a raging fire or crashing waves. If you require a nostalgic feel, try a cloud scene or blossoming garden. Remember that the video will only be shown within the text; this is a much smaller area than a full screen, so make sure there is a lot of movement in the video footage you select.

Next step is to bring your movie footage into the time line and make sure it is at the appropriate length for the title’s duration. If you feel your movie sequence is not long enough, copy and paste the footage along the video track until you have the right length. Alternatively, you can change the duration. Right-click on the clip and select Speed/Duration from the menu. Increasing the duration of the clip will slow down the action (for instance, the clouds will move more slowly across the sky), so make sure you are happy with the end result before proceeding.

Create a new title by selecting New-Title from the Menu bar. Note: if the final product will be displayed on a TV monitor, make sure you stay within the title-safe area, usually marked by white lines within the title screen. If you are creating a video for the Web or for Video CD, the title-safe and action-safe margins are not an issue, as the entire image displays within the screen.

Type your title sequence into the area and drag the title box to its maximum size, as this will ensure the video displays through the letters. For best results, choose a large, wide font such as Arial Black or Impact to allow your video to show clearly. Once you have saved your title, drop it on the timeline above your video sequence, stretching the title track to the same length. The result should show a black title on top of the video footage, similar to the original title shown in FIGURE 2, which is the opposite effect to the one we need.

Flipping the title

In Premiere Pro select the Video Effects box in the Effects palette and go to the Keying folder. Drag the Track Matte effect into the Effects control panel, ensuring you have the background video sequence selected first. If the Effects control panel is not displayed, you can reveal it by going to Windows-Effects Controls.

Choose the Title video track (in FIGURE 1 this is Video track 3) and Matte Alpha for the Composite selection choice.

Next, select the title clip and choose the Alpha Adjust effect from the same Keying folder in the effects selection panel. Click on the Invert Alpha box and the same video effect will be the result. If you want to create the same effect with a white background, click on the Mask Only box directly below.

When using other video editing programs to produce this effect, the important elements to remember are to make the Title black and to select the background video when choosing to create a Track Matte.

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