A Third Way to Make Titles

Most Avid editors know that the system offers two ways to create titles: the venerable Title Tool and Marquee. But there’s also a third way. It’s one of Avid’s best kept secrets, but also maddening because of some key omissions. It’s called the SubCap effect.

Designed for subtitling, you apply the effect to a clip of filler, open the Effect Editor and simply type in your text. Changes happen in real time — no rendering is needed. You can also create a series of titles all at once by importing a file containing text and timecode values. Best of all, you can change the characteristics of all the titles in a track or sequence simultaneously.

My initial thought was, “this would be great for a main title!” But the subcap is crippled in several ways. First, you can’t add a carriage return to text by hitting return. You have to enter an obscure escape sequence (&a;). Second, and much more damning, you can’t have different fonts or sizes within a title. You can’t make “Directed by” smaller than “John Doe,” for example. And finally, you can’t create a soft drop shadow.

Those limitations have prevented me from using this powerful tool for any real-world main title. But it’s still found a home in my cutting room. I recently used it to make a series of titles describing missing shots. As the scene changed, I quickly changed the text, without re-rendering.

You’ll find the SubCap effect in the Generator category. Drag it to a clip of filler. Open it in the Effect Editor and use the disclosure triangles to make changes. Type your text in the Caption Text area, then change the font and size by making selections in the Text Appearance category. Add an outline and/or drop shadow, and adjust the size of the text bounding box, as needed. (Click the image above to enlarge it and make the options easier to see.)

To import text from a file, create your file as is a standard text file (.txt). On the Mac, a good way to create the file is with the free (and terrific) TextWrangler. Save your file as follows:

Format the text with start and end timecodes for each title, like this:

<begin subtitles>
01:00:00:00 01:00:03:00
Directed by Roderick Jaynes

01:00:05:00 01:00:08:00
Produced by Louis B. Mayer

01:00:11:00 01:00:14:00
Edited by John Doe

<end subtitles>

Drag the effect to a segment long enough to handle the titles in your file. (Make sure it covers the master timecode values in the file.) Then click Import Caption Data and navigate to your file. The subcap effect will break the filler into title cards according to your list.

To synchronize your titles, first format one title the way you want it. Then click Edit Global Properties and synchronize all titles to match the one you formatted. You can also create stylesheets and use them to create different looks.

For additional details about the SubCap effect, check out this video on the Avid Community site. (It’s also available on Youtube, and for some reason, the audio is much cleaner.)

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Explore posts in the same categories: Avid, Avid Technical Tips

2 Comments on “A Third Way to Make Titles”

  1. Norman Says:

    I’ve never thought of using it for titling. I have used, very effectively, for subtitles for a doc that I got with multiple languages. I found it very flexible, very responsive and very easy to use (once I figured out how to put it in multiple locations).


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