Compressor 4.1: Add a Watermark

Posted on by Larry

I’ve covered this for earlier versions of Compressor, but I find this feature so useful in my own compression that I want to update this for the latest version.

A watermark is a small symbol, generally in the lower right corner of a video, that identifies the source of the video. These have become so common-place that we see them everywhere from broadcast TV to YouTube.

Apple Compressor allows us to add both still image and video watermarks. In this article, I’m showing how to first add a still image watermark, then a video watermark, to a video that I’m compressing to 1280 x 720.


Watermarks can be created in any software that creates still image files with layers. In this example, I’ll use Adobe Photoshop.

This is the shape we’ll use in our example – Mr. Blob. (Its one of my favorite Photoshop shapes.) There are several things to notice here:

Notice that the watermark is on a layer other than the background layer and the background layer is turned off. This creates an “alpha channel,” meaning “transparency,” in the image which Compressor can use to separate the watermark from the background.

Notice, also, that the image itself is sized to match the size of the final compressed image, in this case 1280 x 720. While we can scale the image in Compressor, scaling changes the image’s position in the frame.

When the image is complete, save the watermark as a Photoshop file and be sure to save the layers. The image is now ready to import into Compressor.


Video watermarks are video clips that contain an alpha channel. (The alpha channel contains the transparency information of a clip.) These can be created in Final Cut Pro X, FCP 7, any version of Motion, or any version of After Effects; to name just a few programs.

Here’s an animated clip I downloaded from Pond 5. I made the background transparent using a luma key (Effects > Keying > Luma key). Given the shadows around “his” feet, this isn’t a particularly great key (OK, it borders on ugly), but it does allow me to show you how this works.

When you want to export transparency with a video clip, you need to change the Render settings for the Project. Specifically, to ProRes 4444. This is most easily done when you create the project. However, you can change Project Properties at any time by choosing Window > Project Properties (shortcut: Cmd+J).

NOTE: There are only two video formats shipped natively with the Mac that support alpha channels: Animation and ProRes 4444. Of the two, ProRes 4444 is higher quality and supported from within Final Cut Pro X. I recommend using ProRes 4444 for all current projects that require transparency.

Once you modify the clip, you can view the alpha channel by clicking the switch in the top right corner of the Viewer and choosing Alpha.

White represents everything that is opaque. Black represents everything that is transparent. Gray indicates everything that is translucent. The alpha channel just shows us the transparency in the clip, to see colors, we need to switch back to All.

When you are satisfied with the clip, export it using File > Share > Master File. Then, and this is critical, be sure to change the settings to export as a ProRes 4444 file; otherwise the transparency in the clip won’t be exported.

At this point, the clip is ready to use as a watermark in Compressor.


Start Compressor and import the video clip to which you want to add a watermark. (The process for adding a watermark is the same for both stills and video.)

NOTE: If you are interested in video training on Compressor, check out this training.

Open the Inspector, click the Video tab, and scroll down to the bottom to the Add Video Effects popup menu. Choose Watermark.

Click the checkbox to turn it blue and click the Select button. In the dialog that appears select the still image watermark that you want to add to the clip.

The watermark should instantly appear in the image in the Preview window. If it doesn’t, click this button at the bottom of the Preview window so it turns blue.

There’s Mr. Blob – in position and ready to go. Notice that Compressor put the image in exactly the same place as you created it inside Photoshop.

Adjust the Alpha slider to modify the translucency of the image.

NOTE: If you select any option in the Position menu that does NOT include “Title Safe,” your image appears on screen exactly where you created it. However, all the Title Safe options move the image. The amount of movement depends upon whether the image containing the watermark is the same size as the image size of your video. For best results, always set the watermark image to be the same size as your compressed image size.


The process of adding a video watermark is exactly the same as the still image with the following exceptions:

If you design a watermark that loops, Compressor will seamlessly loop the watermark for the entire duration of your video, without you needing to do anything else.


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4 Responses to Compressor 4.1: Add a Watermark

  1. lowery says:


    I have found that compressor is so slow in comparison to compressing video or DVD burning inside FCPX.

    Not sure why?

  2. Hal says:

    I have a png image with a transparent background. Is there any way of creating a watermark image with something other than Photoshop? I have Acorn, but I am having a hard time creating the image.
    Any help is greatly appreciated.

    • Larry says:


      Not all applications recognize the alpha channel in a PNG image. See if you can convert it to a PSD, which does not necessarily require Photoshop, at which point it should be recognized as a watermark.


  3. cheesdown says:

    You may use Avdshare Video ConverterAdd Text or Picture Watermark to Video on Mac/Windows

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