What’s Wrong With the Title Tool?

new_title.jpgActually, it’d be much easier to talk about what’s right with it, because the list would be so much shorter: it makes titles that can be supered over picture. Wow. That was an exciting thing a decade ago. Today, we see the same bugs, the same quirks, the same limitations that have been there all along, namely:

  • Titles play in realtime, but they’re not realtime. The title master clip must be rendered.
  • Changing a title always means creating a new render file and these files tend to proliferate and end up all over the place.
  • You can’t matchframe on a title in order to modify it. (The error message says “Precomputes can’t be loaded into monitors.” Of course, that isn’t true — you can load a title into a monitor.)
  • Unlike every other kind of clip, modifying an existing title means modifying only that single instance of it, not the title master clip.
  • Unlike every other kind of clip, modifying the name of a title master clip doesn’t change the name of the title when it’s edited into a sequence.
  • Change the text in a title and you often change the dimensions of the title’s bounding box and cause line breaks to change unpredictably.
  • Typography is a mess. Letter spacing is inconsistent and individual letter pairs often have to be kerned by hand. Type can look crude and rough.
  • Leading can only be changed for an entire title block, not line by line.
  • No lighting effects are possible.
  • It’s hard to precisely control title color.
  • Animation is crude and difficult to control.
  • Soft drop shadows are now possible, but are difficult to control.

And don’t get me started on Marquee, which is, if anything, even worse. Marquee’s typography is much better, but it’s got plenty of quirks of it’s own. For example, you can easily create multiple instances of Marquee, where two copies of the program are running independently — a total no-no in the Mac world. And I challenge anyone reading this, who doesn’t already know the trick, to tell me how to change the leading in a Marquee title. Or modify a Marquis-created title (hint — make your change and then quit Marquee!) Or figure out how to do simple character animation with it, which is supposedly what it’s for.

When are we finally going to get titles that don’t have to be rendered? When are we going to get real title styles, so we can simply change a style and have all the titles that use that style change together? So you could change the font, say, for an entire main title sequence in one step? When are we going to get soft drop shadows that are easy to apply, control and change? When are we going to get easy-to-use character animation?

I suspect that some of the folks in Tewksbury are painfully aware of all this. At one time I had hopes that we might see something new at this year’s NAB, but my intuition is that the challenge of getting the Media Composer onto the Intel-Mac platform has consumed a lot of engineering man-hours.

And so Media Composer users wait. Meanwhile, Final Cut and Motion get more capable, more responsive and more intuitive.

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2 Comments on “What’s Wrong With the Title Tool?”

  1. L.R. Pebler Says:

    Hear hear! Though I’ve learned and use both Avid and FCP, all my freelance work has gravitated towards Final Cut for this reason – titling, and many other meat-and-potatoes effects, are more flexible, intuitive and fast-(or no-!)rendering than in Avid.

    When working under the tight constraints of most small projects, these details can make a huge difference in delivering professional results on time/budget.

  2. Travis Finstein Says:

    I agree. I really hope Avid is working on these things….


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