Fancy LiveType Tricks

Posted on by Larry

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


I was going to write about creating keyframes in LiveType — but, in researching this technique, I discovered a whole flock (that’s a technical term) of other neat tricks, so I changed the title.

Here’s what we are going to do: I want to animate a background graphic to use behind a lower-third super in LiveType. I’ll create the background in PhotoShop, import it into LiveType, where I’ll make it look beautiful. Or, um, at least make it look better….

Fasten your seatbelts, here we go…


1. Open PhotoShop, any version will do, and create a new image with a resolution of 720 x 150 x 72. This creates a graphic that goes the full width of the video frame, but only about 1/4 of a frame high. You can leave the background set to White.



2. This screen then appears. We are going to use this as the basic shape into which we will put moving video. But, first, I want to fade the right edge so that it looks less “block-like.”



3. Click on the QuickMask button on the Tool palette. This switches PhotoShop from image editing mode to mask editing mode.



4. You can tell you are doing it right when the Channels palette highlights the QuickMask channel.



5. Select the default gradient tool and drag a gradient from the right edge to the left. This creates a mask that fades the right side to transparent, while leaving the left edge solid. If you want less fading, draw the gradient line shorter. If you want more fading, draw the gradient line longer. if you want the fade to come from the top, or bottom, or anywhere at an angle, change the direction of the gradient line.



6. Here’s what our image looks like, in Quick Mask mode, with the gradient drawn.



7. Save the file. Remember to keep it in PhotoShop format, with the alpha channels on. (Alpha channels store the transparency information for an image or clip.) In our example, I called the file “Shape Mask.psd“.



8. To bring the file into Livetype, select File > Place (if you want to bring the file in on a background layer, select File > Place Background.)



9. The Shape Mask image is displayed centered in the Canvas. Notice that the Quick Mask we created faded the right side of the image to transparency automatically when LiveType imported it.



10. In the Timeline, I stretched the clip by dragging the right edge so that it runs 4:00 seconds, rather than the default 2:00 duration assigned by LiveType. Notice that I also dragged the Out indicator so that it touches the end of the clip. This tells LiveType how long a file to export.



11. Now, we want to add a colorful animated fill to the graphic. Go to Media Browser > Textures > Smoke and select the Embers animation (or any other animation you prefer).



12. Click the Apple to Matte button at the bottom of the Media Browser.



13. Sha-zaam! The embers clip totally replaces the white background of the PhotoShop clip, but it retains all the transparency information. Very cool! Preview this and notice that the clip also retains all the animation from the embers clip.



14. Except, um, the animation stops about 3/4 the way thru the clip. Sigh… It’s still not perfect. The reason for the stop is that we stretched the PhotoShop clip so that it runs 4:00, however, the embers video only runs about 3:00. We need to slow down the embers clip.


To do this, go to Inspector > Attributes > Matteand change the speed to 75%. This slows down the embers clip so it runs 4:00.



15. But, we aren’t done yet. Our image is in the wrong place and at the wrong size. Select the clip in the Timeline and go to Inspector > Attributes > Glyph. Click the Scale lock icon to unlock it.


Change the Scale Y to 70% to make the clip less tall. Then, unlock the Offset lock, and change the Offset Y to 155, to move the image to the bottom portion of the screen.



16. When that’s done, your image looks like this.



17. One last set of things to do — we want the image to move in from the left side of the frame. To do this, we will create two keyframes which represent it’s starting and ending positions.



18. Move your playhead to the beginning of the Timeline. Select the Shape Mask clip. Go to Track > Add New Effect. LiveType creates a new effect track immediately below the Shape Mask clip, with a default duration of 1:00. You can change the speed of your effect by changing the duration of this clip.



19. With your playhead at the start of the Timeline, select the Effect clip. Go to Inspector > Attributes > Glyph. Unlock the Offset lock, and change Offset X to -700. (You can’t move the slider this far, you’ll need to enter the number.) This moves your image off-screen left.



20. Preview your image and watch as it flies on screen. The time of the move is controlled by the duration of the effect clip.

And, just show show off, here’s a small QuickTime movie (1.1 MB) that shows what we just created.

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