Photoshop: Making Video Titles
Add Pizzazz to Your Videos with Photoshop Titles
By Damien Andrews
Many of today's video cameras allow you to create video titling on the fly. Some of them even offer a few nifty effects to help you make your video title stand out. But the limitations of onboard video camera titling nudge most videographers towards creating video titles in their video editing software. Some high end video editing software allows for some amazing titling, but most videographers don't use high end software – they use free video editing software. I dare say Windows Movie Maker is at the top of that list. And Windows Movie Maker offers very little creative latitude for titling your video creation. Enter Photoshop.
Photoshop allows users to quickly and easily scratch their creative itch and conjure up all manner of video titling. Good video titles start the video off with a positive viewer attitude, and can also – if you've got the creative chops for it – help to introduce and support the 'story' of the video. Myself, I'm an excellent Photoshop technician, but not the most creative person in the world – far from it. But even I manage to squeeze out some modestly creative video titles – thanks to the power of Photoshop.
I always start my video titling projects with a new file in Photoshop. I use 640 pixels x 480 pixels, but you can size your file to suit your particular format. I use a transparent background and I do not use web safe colors, which allows me access to the entire color palette.
Next I try to come up with a basic concept that supports the video and is creative (or at least something that I think is creative). For the two sample titles I included with this article, I confined myself to using only Photoshop filters and elements, no photographs or stills from the video, and a completion time of less than ten minutes. I actually have the two videos on tape, also, but much to the dismay of some relatives and participants, I have yet to upload them for all to enjoy – perhaps now that I have titles, I'll get to that.
Some general guidelines for video titling with Photoshop
Avoid using 'hot' colors, such as bright reds and greens, excessively – they are hard on the eyes. Don't let your design work cause the actual title to be lost – make it easy to find and read. Use the Custom Shape tool to add interesting shapes to your video title, such as the snow flakes and musical notations I used. These are really quick and easy and can add a lot to your video titles. When the titling text crosses over both light and dark colors, use either an Outer Glow or a Drop Shadow to ensure easy readability. Keep design elements on different layers so that you can easily go back and edit your work. Before rasterizing type layers, make a copy – just in case you need to do editing later.
When you're done creating your video title in Photoshop, save it as a JPG file. I use maximum resolution and quality settings in the Save for Web dialog box. You can access this dialog box quickly by typing the SHIFT+CNTRL+ALT+S keys simultaneously.
A simple video title created quickly in Photoshop using the Custom Shape tool, Gradient tool, Text tool and Marquee. The type was drop shadowed so it stands out on the pseudo-rainbow.
In retrospect, I should have blurred the hill's edge better and done something more in the white snow areas. But this video title is still leaps and bounds ahead of what I could have done on my camera or in my video editing software.