Creating Multi-Color Credit Scrolls

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the February, 2006, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe.
UPDATED December 2007. ]


This technique grew out of a class I taught recently. I thought it was an elegant solution to a major limitation in Final Cut, so I want to share it with you.

Here’s the challenge. Final Cut’s internal text generators only allow one font, point size, and color in a single clip. How can you easily create scrolling end credits that allow you to change colors, fonts or sizes. While you still can’t do it in a single clip, here’s an easy way to do it with two.

  1. To start, I’ve created a simple sequence. Yup, it’s about a train. (For new readers, I have this thing about trains. I, um, beg your indulgence for this small failing…)
  2. I generate a new scrolling text clip by clicking on the small letter A in the lower-right corner of the Viewer. This is the generator pop-up menu.
  3. BEFORE doing anything with the clip, I drag it over to the Superimpose overlay in the Canvas. Final Cut automatically puts it on the track above where my playhead is positioned, and trims it so the text clip is the same length of the clip below it. In this case, I shortened it so that the credits only run 10 seconds. (See the next section on using this technique.)
  4. Then, I double-click the text clip to load it back into the Viewer.
  5. Click the Controls tab to make changes to your text clip. In this case, I’m creating just three credits to illustrate the procedure. I’m using Eurostyle Black, 36 point, but you can use any typeface you want. (Remember, Final Cut only supports Truetype fonts.) Bold or black faces always look better. Keep type faces larger than 24 points.
  6. Here’s the key: notice that I’m only typing the title, followed by an asterisk. This is important, you’ll see why in a few more steps. Using all caps is not necessary, I just do it for the look.
  7. All text keyed in Final Cut should have a drop shadow. Click the Motion tab, then turn on Drop Shadow, by clicking the check box.
  8. Here are my standard drop shadow settings for text: Offset: 1.5, Softness: 30, Opacity: 90. These make text supers look great.
  9. Press the Option key and drag the text clip up one track — release the option key BEFORE letting go of the mouse. This duplicates the clip using an overwrite edit. Make sure that the two clips are the same length and start at the same time.
  10. Double-click the V3 text clip to load it into the Viewer. Replace the title with the person’s name — in this case, I used me. Notice that I started each line with an asterisk. This is key, again you’ll see why in a bit.
  11. Click the small white color chip to change the color of the clip.
  12. Select something that appeals to you, in this case, gold.
  13. Because you duplicated the clip, all your drop shadow and text settings were duplicated as well.
  14. Preview your final results and — poof! — a great looking credit roll in multiple colors.
  15. The asterisk following a line of text aligns text to the left of it flush right to the middle of the frame. The asterisk preceeding a line of text aligns it flush left to the middle of the frame. The “Gap Width” command controls how far apart the two sides are.

    For a more professional look, add a Fade size of 25% (near the bottom of the Controls screen) and see how it looks.

A couple of notes: the speed of the credit roll is determined by the length of the clip. If you want credits to roll slower, make the clip longer. Also, there is no way to pause a credit roll at the end of a clip. The best way to do that is to export it as a self-contained Quicktime movie, import the movie, and make your speed changes to that movie clip.

Still, this technique can make your end credits look much more interesting and now you know how to do it.

UPDATE – Dec 2007

Paul Delcour writes:

I found an easier way to create a double-sided credit scroll. I use the FCP scroll text – prepare one with the parts – copy this on top and change the text to the actors names – I then change the actors names to yellow for instance – one is aligned left, the other right – I line both scrolls up so they leave a nice gap in the middle and hey presto! Works like a gem.

But as someone mentioned: if I want to add other names just single in the middle, there’s no way of adding them. I fear it’s Photoshop then of which I only have an illegal copy, so I do not use this for my commercial projects. Option could be to copy text from a word processor in Graphic Converter and use that instead of Photoshop: I just tried a bit and it does seem to work.

Still, it’s a pain creating even relatively simple credits…

Larry replies: Paul, first, here’s an article on creating multi-color credits in FCP that might help: Creating Multi-Color Credit Scrolls

Also, if you add a name in the middle of one clip, just add an empty carriage return at the same position in the other credit roll to keep them in sync.

However, for credits, I prefer creating them in LiveType. Here’s an article you can use to save you a lot of Photoshop work: Scrolling Text in LiveType.

UPDATE – Dec. 27, 2007

Tom Wolsky adds:

You can also do this using Final Cut Pro’s Text > Title Crawl. Complete text control, including guttering, though that’s a little tricky.

Ben Balser writes:

CHV makes a killer and affordable ($49) plug-in that does all this and more. It’s very flexible and I recommend it IF you’re going to do this type of credit coloring in an on-going basis. Just FYI. Click here to learn more.

Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Larry Recommends:

FCPX Complete

NEW & Updated!

Edit smarter with Larry’s latest training, all available in our store.

Access over 1,900 on-demand video editing courses. Become a member of our Video Training Library today!


Subscribe to Larry's FREE weekly newsletter and save 10%
on your first purchase.