Scrolling Text in LiveType

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the June, 2006, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe.
Updated June 2008. ]

Creating scrolling text in Final Cut is an exercise in futility. It’s awkward to create, you can’t get it to pause at the end and it takes forever to render.

Recently, Brian, one of my students, pointed out a different way to create scrolling credits using LiveType. I did some additional research and discovered a very easy way to use LiveType for all your scrolling end credits. Here’s how:

  1. Create a new LiveType project (Cmd+N)



  3. In the large text entry box at the bottom of the Inspector, type your text as you want it to appear in the credits. In this example, I’ve decided to capitalize the title and title case the name.



  5. Set your Out to the length of the credits you want to create, then drag the text in your text track to your Out. (In this example, I’m creating a three-second roll because it keeps my screen shots smaller. You can create any length roll you wish.)

  7. Select your text track, click the Fonts tab in the Media Browser, and set your text to a nice readable format. Here, I am using Arial Rounded MT Bold Regular because it has a nice informal feel. Try not to use Lucida Grande, it doesn’t hold up well at smaller sizes. Arial is OK, but it’s so BORING that you could do better.



  9. Select the Text tab in the Inspector and set your font size. Here I’m using 32 point text, with 95% leading. (Leading controls the spacing between lines.)

  11. Move your playhead to the beginning of the Timeline.



  13. Select the Effects tab in the Media Browser and choose Scrolls and Crawls from the pop-up menu.

  15. There are five scrolls to choose from:


    a. Scroll Down: Scrolls text from top to bottom with no pause
    b. Scroll Up: Scrolls text from bottom to top with no pause
    c. Scroll Up with Fade: Scrolls text from bottom to top, fading in the ENTIRE text clip at the beginning and fading the entire clip at the end. This is a different behavior from Final Cut and I don’t like it much.
    d. Scroll with Pause: Scrolls down from top and puts a pause in the middle.
    e. Scroll with Pause, Glow: Scrolls down from top, pauses in middle and does a weird glow.


    For me, the only one to consider is Scroll Up. We will do the pause manually.



  17. Make sure your text track is selected, click Scroll Up, and click Apply in the lower right corner of the Media Browser. A new purple effect track shows up immediately below your text clip.



  19. The next two steps are the tricky part. Reduce the size of your Canvas using the pop-up menu in the lower left. Here, I’ve selected 25% view.



  21. Make sure your playhead is at the beginning of the clip, with the Effects track selected. Hold the Shift key down. Grab the blue baseline in the Canvas and drag it up until the top edge of your first text is just outside the white image area.

Here’s what you’ve just done:

12. If all you need is a simply scroll, you’re done. Save your LiveType project, import it into Final Cut and edit it to the Timeline. But, if you want it to pause at the end, say to display a copyright notice, there are a few more steps you need to make.



13. Select the text track and click the Text tab so your credits show up in the Inspector. Add empty carriage returns after your last text credit to make room for the copyright notice — the actual number of returns will vary depending upon the size of the font you are using. In my example, I used 12 returns. Then type your copyright notice.

Secret tip: Press Option+G to type the Copyright symbol (©).



14. Select the clip in the Effects track and press Shift+k to jump to the next keyframe. (This should put you on the last keyframe triangle of the effect, making it glow dark. If it doesn’t, press Shift+k until you get there. Option+k jumps to the previous keyframe.)



15. Click the Effects tab in the INSPECTOR, not the Media Browser. You’ll see CanvasOffset in the Active Parameters box. This is the parameter that causes the text to scroll. The numbers represent the changing position of the text.



16. Double-click the word CanvasOffset and a dialog appears. Change the Canvas Offset Y % to -70. Your copyright notice should line up close to the baseline, with no words showing at the top. (The X% alters horizontal position, the Y% alters vertical position.)


17. To change the speed of the scroll, change the length of the effect; shorter is faster.



18. To get the copyright to hold at the end, drag your text clip so it extends past the end of the effect. Be sure to reposition your Out to match the end of the text clip.


19. If the beginning of your text scroll no longer aligns with the start of the effect, and it probably won’t, press Home to move your playhead to the start of the timeline. Then, drag the baseline as you did in step 7.

Preview, save, and done!

This requires a bit more tweaking than I’d like to get the text to align perfectly, but this is far easier than the hoops we need to jump thru to create scrolling credits that pause in Final Cut.

Update – March 2008

Jonathan Pienaar, of Zimbabwe, sent this in:

I agree with you about Final Cut’s built-in scrolling title being hopelessly fiddly. For quick yet stylish end-rolls I use Boris Title Crawl (Part of the Boris 3D Extras package) – and this is how I freeze on a last piece of text:

  • Park the timeline where you want it to freeze.
  • Shift-N to grab a freeze frame
  • Drop the freeze frame onto V2 (or next available video track)
  • Reload the credit roll into the viewer (double-click the title clip in timeline), making sure not to move the timeline cursor
  • Make a keyframe in the Motion Tab for opacity
  • Move 1 frame later and set opacity to 0

As a note: if the titles are over a moving background, Shift-N will also grab the background and freeze that, which may be undesirable; and loading the title-roll into the viewer will result in a freeze-frame of the first page of the roll, for some strange reason. The workaround here is to do the title roll and freeze on black first, then add the background visuals – the freeze will retain opacity.


It goes without saying that Inscriber’s TitleMotion


( is a far more integrated tool, and provides a lot more flexibility in terms of font colours, etc. The more I get to use it, the more I like it.

Chi-Ho Lee (an Apple Final Cut Studio trainer) writes:

This is in regards to pausing a credit roll in Boris Title Crawl (if I’m reading this correctly). There’s a “Use Percent Completion” option is the Controls tab. You have to turn on this option by checking the box, then you can easily keyframe this option to stop a roll wherever you like. It’s a little hidden but it’s been there since since they’ve packaged Boris with FCP. It’s a whole lot easier then making freeze frames and what not.

Larry replies: Jonathan and Chi-Ho, thanks for these tips, and the reference to TitleMotion.

Just for the record, I’m a huge fan of LiveType for the simplicity of its interface whenever I create animated text or title crawls. Here’s an article that describes how.

Another Way to Do a Scrolling Title

Cal Deal sent in his suggestion for a scrolling title:

I tried your technique of using LiveType for scrolling credits, but couldn’t get it to work.


So, am returning to a technique I’ve used before … creating a great big jpeg and scrolling the picture! I can do it in FCP, or use the program Photo to Movie (which is really cool, but limited). The nice thing about Photo to Movie, I’m finding, is that you get a good, high quality preview of the scroll and can easily adjust the timing. I suppose you can do this elsewhere, but this is very smooth and a lot simpler that dealing with Live Type, or so it seems.


I used that rounded Arial font you like, applied an action to make the Levels 16 and 240 for video, and added a .4 Gaussian Blur. Then I used the motion keyframes in Photo to Movie to pan the jpeg, exported a Quicktime video, took the video into Final Cut, assigned a “lighten” composite mode, and laid it over a Digital Juice motion background. I used a feathered mask to make the scrolling type disappear as it approached a headline at the top of the page. It worked!! And the type looked good too.


In this project — a video for mediation — I am creating the presentation in Keynote, panning photos with Photo to Movie, and putting the video from both programs together in Final Cut.

Larry replies: Cal, thanks for sending this in.

UPDATE – More Ideas – March 6, 2008

Tom Wolsky writes:

As for scrolling text: there isn’t a single scrolling text tool on the Mac that I know of that works properly for video, with the exception of After Effects, which can be made to do it.


The fact is all these scrolling text tools can make text speed infinitely variable, which seems like a good thing, but not for video. Because of interlacing scrolls can only move at specific speeds. 120 pixels/seconds or multiples of that. You can exactly adjust the pixel speed in AE, but not in any other application. None of the Apple scrolling text tools can be exactly controlled based on speed per pixel per second. Hardware scrollers like Chyron had specific speeds. You could pick one you wanted. You couldn’t just say make it a little faster or make it little slower. The rate moving across the screen had to be exact.


The best solution for video is don’t scroll the text. Make separate title cards and put them up as quickly as you want. Watch TV shows, except for Access Hollywood at 1200 pixels/second, most shows use sequential graphics cards not scrolls.

Larry replies: Thanks, everyone, for your comments.

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