Creating a basic text animation with the ProType Titler in Vegas Pro
by Gary Rebholz
The Vegas Pro ProType Titler has become a hot topic as people continue to discover the potential that the tool contains for creating sophisticated titling for their video projects. So, I thought it was a good time to revisit the ProType Titler and give those of you who haven't yet used it the basics you need in order to get started. We introduced the ProType Titler back in September of 2007 with the release of Vegas Pro 8.0 and at that time we included a tutorial on the tool in this newsletter. This month's article is an updated reprint of that same article. It gives you a solid introduction to the tool and how you can use it to bring professional titles to your project.
The ProType Titler is integrated inside Vegas Pro software as a media generator. To find it, click the Media Generators tab in the window docking area. If the tab does not appear in the window docking area, choose View | Media Generators to open the window.
In the list on the left of the Media Generators window you see all of the standard generators such as Solid Color, Noise Texture, Color Gradient, and so on. Select ProType Titler from the list.
As usual, the area on the right shows you thumbnails of presets that you can add to your project to get you started. I prefer to start with a blank ProType Titler event and go from there. To do this, drag the Empty preset and drop it into the timeline. This adds a new event to your timeline and simultaneously opens the ProType Titler window shown in Figure 1.
If you have to, move the ProType Titler window so that you can see the event in the timeline. Click the new event to place your cursor within it. This ensures that you'll be able to see the results of your work as you move along. At the moment, you don't see anything in the Preview window since you added an empty ProType Titler event, but we're about to change that.
Double-click the title bar of the ProType Titler window to size it so that you're seeing all of the controls in the window. To add text to the workspace area, click the Add New Text Box button. The new text box appears in the center of the workspace area. Notice that the text is highlighted and that a banner across the top of the area indicates that you have entered text edit mode. Type your new text to replace the sample text.
To the left of the workspace area, you may have noticed that the properties area changed when you added the text. The properties area always shows you properties that are related to whatever has focus in the workspace area. In this case, since you're in text edit mode, the properties area shows you Span Properties as in Figure 2. Span properties relate to the text you've entered.
The Font Family setting shows the default font of Arial. To choose a different font, select the new text you just entered, click the current font name, and preview the other fonts on your system in the Font Family drop-down list. Choose the font you want to use. You can play with the other settings here to see how the changes you make alter the look of your text. Most of these controls are pretty self explanatory. Experiment with different settings to get a feel for what kind of adjustments you can make to the text.
Click the Style and OpenType tabs for more options. ProType Titler supports OpenType features for open type fonts and you can adjust those features on the OpenType tab.
Now that you've made the adjustments you want to your text you can use other tools to start getting creative with your titles. First, click the banner across the top of the workspace to exit text edit mode. Notice that the text box is now highlighted as opposed to the actual text itself. Notice also that the Properties area now shows Text Block Properties and offers a completely different set of controls.
The Transform tab contains controls that relate to the position and shape of the text box. To change these settings, you can either adjust the controls in the properties area or simply drag elements of the text block in the workspace area. For instance, to make the box bigger, drag one of the box's corner anchors. If you want to constrain the aspect ratio of the text, first select the Lock Aspect button. Now when you drag one of the anchors you cannot distort the text because the width and height maintain their aspect ratio. However, you can still change just the width or height if you want to with the X and Y Scale faders in the properties area.
You can also automate your new text. The properties area gives you the tools to create moving text, text that shrinks or grows, text that spins, and so much more. Let's talk in general about how automation works with a simple position automation that creates moving text. Once you get the hang of automating position, you'll understand how you can apply the same techniques to other aspects that support automation to create all kinds of effects.
First, click the Toggle Automation buttons for both the X and Y aspects of the Offset controls. When you do, you see automation envelopes appear in the timeline area at the bottom of the ProType Titler window as in Figure 3. These automation envelopes work very much like track envelopes such as volume, pan, and fade to color envelopes. Notice that each envelope has a point at the very beginning.
Now, drag the text block to the upper-left-hand corner of the workspace. Keep in mind that the light boxes in the workspace indicate the frame edge (outer box) and the title safe area (inner box) so you want to be careful not to cross these warning points. Place the text box so that it sits in the upper-left-hand corner of the title safe area. You've just set these new position coordinates for the first (and so far, the only) point on the automation line.
Now, click about two seconds into the timeline at the bottom of the ProType Titler. This places the cursor there. Drag the position box to the lower-right-hand corner of the workspace. The envelopes now have two points and a curve connects each point pair.
Click the Play From Start button in the ProType Titler workspace to preview the motion you just created. You can add as many points to the envelopes as you want and you can automate any parameters that allow automation to create an endless variety of effects. Further, you can automate many of the controls on the Effects and Layout tabs as well.
Now let's really start to get fancy. First, click the Delete buttons in the timeline area for both the X and Y offset envelopes to remove them. Make sure the text is set in the upper-left-hand corner of the workspace.
You just learned how you can automate the text box. You can also drill into that box and automate individual words or even letters. Click the Navigate to Child button. Now just the first word of your text is bounded by a position box. Click the Navigate to Child button again to isolate just the first letter of the first word. If you want to work with the second word or letter, click the Navigate to Next Peer button. Of course, click the Navigate to Previous Peer button to move back to the first letter. Let's start with just the first letter of the first word isolated as shown in Figure 4.
Click the Toggle Automation buttons for the Y Offset to create an automation envelope for that aspect of this first letter. The first point on each automation envelope contains the current offset value. Click about two seconds into the ProType Titler timeline to place the cursor there. Now, drag the first letter of your text down to the lower-left-hand corner of the title safe area.
Click the Preview From Start button to see what you have so far. Here's where the possibilities start springing to mind. We're going to take the automation move you created for this first letter and automatically apply it to the other letters in the text block.
In the timeline area of the ProType Titler, click the Cascade Properties button (shown in Figure 5) for the single character you just automated. Click the value for the Cascade Range drop-down and choose Subsequent Characters in Current Text Block from the list. Close the Cascade settings window. Now, click the Toggle Cascade button. This cascades the automation to each subsequent letter in the text block. Click the Play From Start button again to see the results.
Now that you know how the automation and cascade techniques work, experiment with the other properties of the text. For instance, start your text with a maximum horizontal blur and transition it to not blurred. Rotate the text from one point to the next. Fade it in over time. In fact, do all of these things simultaneously and see what you can create.
There's much more to discover with the ProType Titler, but the techniques you've learned here will give you a great start on building a completely new dimension into your projects. Take some time to experiment with the ProType Titler and soon you'll be creating dynamic and exciting text that not only complements your video editing work, but helps you take your video projects to a new level of professional quality.
If you want to see me run through all of the steps in this article, check out the latest installment of the training video series hosted by Les Stroud. Also take a look at all of the other tutorial resources including the Seminar Series training packages and free videos available at http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/training.
Gary Rebholz, is the training manager for Sony Creative Software. Gary produces the popular Seminar Series training packages for Vegas Pro, ACID Pro, and Sound Forge software. He is also co-author of the book Digital Video and Audio Production. Gary has conducted countless hands-on classes in the Sony Creative Software training center, as well as at tradeshows such as the National Association of Broadcasters show.