How to create TV show intro titles | HitFilm Express
Hey everyone, I’m Axel from HitFilm, and in this video we’re going to look at several techniques for creating titles that resolve onscreen. The first two methods we’ll use are possible in our free software, HitFilm Express. We will also look at using Block Displacement, an effect which is available in HitFilm Pro, and can be added to HitFilm Express by purchasing the VFX: Retro Pack 2. The Project file is linked in the description so you can download it if you want to follow along. If you don’t have the VFX Retro Pack 2, then you may get a warning when you open the project that some effects are missing. But don’t worry, that is fine, the first two examples will still work perfectly for all of you who just have the free software.
The basic setup will be the same for each variation of these titles, and we will just use different effects to create the different versions. So first, let’s get things set up. In the Media panel, create a new composite shot timeline, 5 seconds long, named after the credit you want to include in it. Then, select the Text tool, and drag a box on the viewer to create a new text layer. Enter the name you wish to use, and adjust the text properties however you like. I used a font called Avenir for the opening example, but for the sake of compatibility, I will use Helvetica in this tutorial, with the first name set to Light, and the last name set to Regular. Let’s adjust the color to a very light cyan. I’m in an HD project, and the size is set to 48, but you should adjust the font settings to fit your project. Position the text layer wherever you want the title to appear in the frame. On the Position property, enable keyframing at frame zero.
Advance to 4 seconds, and slide the title about 250 pixels across the frame. You can move it more or less if you prefer, but try not to move it too far, as we want it to just subtly drift sideways while the viewer is reading it. Advance once more, to or 4:15, and move the text again in the same direction, until it is out of frame. Right-click the keyframe where it starts to exit the frame, and set the Temporal Interpolation to Smooth. At the start of the timeline, trim the layer start to frame 5. This gives us a slight blank space, so if we sequence multiple titles in the Editor we get a brief pause between them, and each title appears abruptly in the middle of its distorted state, which we want. Now the animation is all set, and we can proceed with the effects. For our first trick, let’s use the Mosaic effect. Find Mosaic and add it to your Text layer. Mosaic divides your layer into blocks, as if it was made up of small tiles like a traditional mosaic. Thus, the properties we want to animate are the number of blocks in the mosaic, so they start out large, and quickly resolve into a legible title.
But we want the height of the title to remain consistent, so we will only animate the Horizontal Blocks. Of course, you could animate the vertical blocks as well, and get a different look to the effect, if you prefer. To properly resolve our title, we want the Horizontal Blocks and Vertical Blocks to be set to 1920 and 1080, respectively, so they match our full resolution and each block of the mosaic is only one pixel. is where we want the title to be completely resolved, so move the playhead to 1:00, and enable keyframing for the Horizontal blocks. Then jump back to the start of the timeline, and set that value to 5. Scrub or play through that to get a sense of how the effect looks in motion, and adjust the settings further if you wish.
Then advance to or so, and add another keyframe using this button, which just creates a new keyframe using the existing value. Advance to just past 4 seconds, Maybe 4:05, and set the Horizontal Blocks value to 10. Now the title breaks up just before it flies offscreen. Let’s just fine-tune the motion a bit, to finish this one off. Select the first keyframe for Horizontal Blocks, and then open the Value graph. As you can see, we have a smooth, even transition from one value to the next, which is the result of Linear Interpolation. Right-click the first keyframe and set its Temporal Interpolation to Smooth Out. Notice how the line is now curved, so the value changes more slowly coming out of the keyframe, and gradually changes faster as it progresses.
Let’s exaggerate that behavior even more by grabbing the Bezier handle, and dragging it as far to the right as we can, to deepen that curve. This gives us a much more pleasing resolve to the effect. With that finished, enable motion blur for the layer, and this version is done. Let’s try another, shall we? Yes. Yes we shall. This time, we will use the Derez effect, but first, we want to duplicate our composite shot for the second title.
This saves us a few steps, as the text formatting and animation are already in place, and we just need to edit the contents. Rename the duplicate to the name it will contain, then double-click to open it and edit the text inside as well. Select the names one at a time to edit, and we can retain the different formatting used by each name. Let’s move this title to a different location in the Viewer. Since the text is animated, Let’s use a Point to move all the animation at once. Create a point layer, and parent the text to it.
Then just drag the point around to reposition the text, and the movement remains consistent in the new location.This is a fairly common approach to title sequences these days, where the titles themselves are consistent, in terms of the font, size, and length of time they are on-screen, but the position and the details of how the text appears will vary somewhat from one title to the next. Disable the Mosaic effect, and add the Derez effect. Don’t delete the Mosaic effect yet, and we can use the Mosaic keyframes for reference, to match the timing of our animation in the Derez effect. Derez has several sections of controls, but all we need for this project is the Pixelation. Note that Derez also uses Horizontal Blocks and Vertical Blocks properties, but this time we will keyframe both, to get a different result. Set them to 1920 x 1080 to match our project resolution again, and enable keyframing at 1:00.
Move back to frame 0, and set both values to 1. Then, increase the strength to 100%. Set our first two keyframes to Slow Out, then we will use the Value Graph again, to adjust the curve for each of those keyframes. Note as we scrub through this one, that the pixelation is overlaid onto the original text. You can get a similar result to the Mosaic effect by changing the View menu to Pixelation, which hides the source layer. At 3:20, add another keyframe to each property, then at 4:05, set their values to 10 and 30. And title two is completed. Using just these two effects, and changing up the settings from one instance to the next, you can create a variety of results, to generate a title sequence that is harmonious in style, but not the exact same thing over and over. There are other effects as well which can create similar results, Witness Protection, maybe Insect Vision, but we will look at one other effect, Block Displacement, which is available in HitFilm Pro, or in HitFilm Express if you purchase the VFX: Retro Pack 2 add-on, which is what I’ve done.
So, let’s duplicate our comp once more, rename it to the next credit, and change the text inside as well, to the new name. Reposition the Point to move the text again, as well. Then add the Block Displacement effect. As becomes immediately apparent, block displacement breaks the layer into chunks, or blocks, and displaces each block to a new random location. I say random, but we do have some control over how far the blocks are moved. I’ll leave the size of the blocks at the default 64, but you can change it some if you prefer. Then at frame 0, set displacement to 500, and enable keyframing. At 1:00, reduce that value to 0 to resolve the title.
While the playhead is still at 1:00, open the Block Settings and enable keyframing for Coverage, at 100%. Jump back to frame 0 and set coverage to 0. At 3:20, set another Coverage keyframe at 100%, then at 4:05, set it back to zero. Let’s right-click those starting keyframes and set them to Slow Out again, and use the Value Graph to deepen the curves like before. Now, we have actually used two techniques in this example. At the start, the blocks are displaced, and coverage gradually reveals more of them as they move into position. And we can tweak that a bit more, if we open the Displacement Settings, and set the Displacement Axis to Vertical, then we limit the movement of the blocks to the vertical axis. At the end of the effect, we used no Displacement, but instead we just used Coverage to control how many of the blocks are visible, so they gradually disappear. So, there are two more options to put in your pocket, both of which can be changed around nicely by adjusting the size of the blocks or the amount of displacement.
For our final example, we are going to use Block Displacement again, so let’s duplicate this comp, and change the comp name and the Text inside. Hopefully you are seeing a pattern here. And we also want to move our Point again, so this title is in a new location. We can use the same basic animation within the effect, and all we will change is the Size, which we reduce to 20 for much smaller blocks, and then change the Displacement Axis to Horizontal. This gives us quite a different look, with only two minor adjustments. With all of our titles finished, let’s jump over to the Editor, where a background montage is already in place. I just popped the cover off of a computer tower and filmed inside of it quickly to get some tech-related imagery that I thought would go well with the pixelated style of the titles we are creating. So, drag in the title comps over the top of the montage, one after another, to create our final sequence. Once you are done, you should get something like this. Using multiple techniques to create similar results is a great way to add some variety to your project and maintain the viewer’s interest.
Hopefully, you already have a few ideas of how you might adjust the settings we used here, to create results we didn’t even cover. And if you do that, please do share the results with us, as we would love to see them. Thank you very much to our subscribers, and all of our other viewers, and remember to hit the Bell icon to be notified of all of our future tutorials as soon as we post them each week. .
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