Compressor 3: Add a Watermark to Video

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the December, 2007, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

A question that I get asked frequently is how to add a watermark to video. For instance, all our Edit Well video tutorials use watermarks to reinforce the Edit Well logo and brand; or to show the original source of a video. While watermarks can be created in Final Cut, FCP always requires rendering before output which slows things down.

There’s a much easier way using Compressor. This technique works in both Compressor 2.1x and 3.0x.

For me, watermarks work best if they are simple in design and white in color. This gives me the greatest range in what they can be superimposed over. While Compressor can work with any design or color, I tend to keep my watermark designs simple. Also, I will create a watermark file for each position I want to place a watermark, for example, lower left, lower right, and center. Yes, Compressor can adjust watermark position, but I like to have more control over image placement than Compressor provides.

Here’s a watermark example using a recent tutorial I did for Edit Well.

1.) To help me set placement, I exported a still frame from my video, loaded it into Photoshop and set it as the background layer. This isn’t required but really helps in determining positions. (You may need to scale the image to compensate for the difference in aspect ratio between video and Photoshop images.)


Compress 1


2.) I then created a new layer and created my watermark graphic in the position, rotation, and the size I want. Because Photoshop layers retain all their transparency (alpha channel) information when they are imported into Compressor, the only thing I put on this second layer is the watermark image itself. Working in Photoshop gives me total creative flexibility in where and how the watermark gets placed.


Compress 1a


3.) This next step is very important. BEFORE you save the Photoshop file, deselect the background layer. We used this layer only to set the position of the watermark. If this layer is not turned off, Compressor won’t be able to determine what portion of the image is the watermark and the key won’t work.


4.) Create your video in Final Cut and export it as a QuickTime movie, either self-contained or reference. The watermark is being added after your video is complete.


5.) Open Compressor and import your clip.


6.) Apply whatever compression settings you need for your video; compression settings have no impact on applying the watermark.


7.) Once compression settings have been applied, go to the Inspector and click the Filters button.


Compress 2


8.) This displays a list of all the video, audio, and color filters in Compressor. By default, all filters are off. Scroll down inside the Video tab until you find Watermark and select it.


Compress 3


9.) At the bottom of the Inspector, click the Browse button and select the watermark file that you created in step 1 above. Compressor reads Photoshop files natively. However, the watermark needs to be on a layer other than the background layer for Compressor to be able to key it into the video.


10.) From the Position pop-up menu below the filter list, select where you want to poistion the watermark.


Compress 4


There are lots of locations where a watermark can be placed, depending on the underlying video. For this example, we’ll put it in the lower right corner.


11.) Next, adjust the size (Scale) and transparency (Alpha) by moving the sliders until you are happy with the look. In this case, I reduced the size to 80% of the original and made it 50% opaque.


Compress 5


12.) Here’s the finished result, displayed in Compressor’s Preview Window, ready for compression.


Compress 6


Adding a watermark will add time to the compression process, but since compression runs in the background, I can be working on other projects in Final Cut in the meantime. This saves me a ton of time instead of waiting for things to render.

Plus, once you have these Compressor settings created, adding a watermark is as easy as turning on the filter, double-checking your settings and clicking “Submit.”

Very cool.


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5 Responses to Compressor 3: Add a Watermark to Video

  1. Garry Jennings says:


    Will your “Adding a Watermark to Video” tutorial work as well for Final Cut Pro X as it did for Final Cut?


  2. Should I assume that the comment by “eyelid surgery” is relevant? Notwithstanding this response, and assuming that no one see a reason to disagree, I will assume that Larry’s FCP instructions for adding watermarks to videos remain valid for FCPX.

  3. Janis says:

    i have a many audio track that i must export as video (audio + still image). In FCP it is a very time-consuming process. Is there any way using compressor to do that? Maybe using watermark function to set watermark as still image?

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