X Course Advisor FREE Course Advisor
Watch Tutorials
Designing Titles in Final Cut Pro X: Part 1

Whether you've been using Final Cut Pro for years, or have just picked it up for the first time, Final Cut Pro X (FCP X) is an all-new app and as such, some things about it aren't completely obvious. One of those is titling: the addition of text layers to your video. In this tutorial, we'll show you how to get started with FCP X's new titling tools and create your own custom titles. Let's get started.

Step 1 - Create a New Project and Add Your Footage

To begin, either create a New Event (File > New Event) or select an existing Event, then create a new Project for it (File > New Project). I'm calling mine FCP X Titles. Assuming you made a new Event, click the Import Files button in the All Clips window, or choose File > Import > Files..., or type Command-Shift-I to navigate to your hard drive and import some footage. For simplicity's sake, I'm going to be working with a single short HDV clip of a young hummingbird perching on our feeder I was lucky enough to shoot last summer (here's a lower resolution version):

Step 2 - Add the Clip to the Timeline

Control-click on your imported clip and choose Open in Timeline from the pop-up menu to move the clip to the Timeline:

Move the clip to the Timeline

Step 3 - Add a Title

Next, click the Titles Browser button in the toolbar (located below the Viewer, to the right):

Show/Hide Titles Browser

As you can see, there are quite a few title templates already available in FCP X, and I encourage you to try them all to see how they work. (Also note that even if you have Skimming disabled, you can still skim over the title templates to preview them in the Viewer). But for now, since we're going to be creating our own title design, make sure All Titles is selected in the list on the left of the Titles browser, and select the Custom title on the right. You'll see a simple white static Title in the Viewer window:

Select Custom title

Next, position your Playhead at the point where you want the title to start, and double-click the Custom template to add it to your timeline. You can, of course, reposition the title by dragging its clip bar, or trim its head or tail by dragging them, as with any clip.

Step 4 - Change the Text

So let's say we want to change everything about this title: its font, color, size, and positioning. We'd like to fade it in and out as well. Here's the non-obvious part: in Final Cut Pro 7, you'd select the title and click the various tabs in the Canvas to change those properties, and use the Pen tool to create the fades. In FCP X, you do all this through the Inspector, which isn't open by default. So, with the title selected in the timeline, choose Window > Show Inspector, or type Command-4, or click the Inspector button on the toolbar:

The Inspector

When you do, the Title Inspector will open next to the Viewer with the Text tab selected:

The Title Inspector

As you see, this is where you enter your title text, and set its font, size, alignment, tracking, and so on. The first thing we want to do is change the text to something useful, so we'll select the word "Title" in the Text field (which should already be selected) and type in something more appropriate; in my case "A Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird". Just like with FCP 7, you have to add hard returns where you want line breaks. As you type, the title in the Viewer updates:

Adding text in the Text field

Step 5 - Change the Font

Next we want to change several aspects about the typeface itself, including its color. Now, you'll notice a big pop-up menu above the Text field currently called Normal. Click on that, and you'll see a couple of Save options, and a whole list of custom font styles, most of which are pretty hideous. You're welcome to choose one if you like, of course, but I have to caution you: if you do, you'll lose your current "Normal" settings, and you won't be able to get them back without resetting all the properties individually. That's right, "Normal" isn't actually in the menu, and neither can you Undo a style selection. The only way to get back to the "Normal" or default style without resetting everything is to delete the title and start over. You could, if you like (and you probably should), save this default style as your own custom style by choosing 'Save All Basic + Style Attributes' from the pop-up and giving it some appropriate name. I've called mine "Norm". Then you can feel free to try all the wacky styles in the menu and still get back to the basic settings.

Next we want to change the font, which we do by just choosing one from the Font pop-up menu. One nice touch here is that the font names are displayed in their actual typefaces, and the title will update automatically as you skim through the font list. Choose whatever you like, of course. I'm using my favorite for video titling, Myriad Pro Bold. Just drag the Size slider to set the font size. 

Below that, you can change the Alignment (center, left justified, and so on), the Line Spacing, the Tracking (the uniform spacing between all letters), the Baseline (the positioning of the line on which the characters sit), and, if you click between two of the characters in the Text field, the Kerning (individual letter spacing) between those characters. 

Note also that some of these properties are keyframeable: if you position your cursor in the area where the property and controls are located, all will display a little down arrow, and most will also display a keyframe icon (the diamond shape with a plus sign inside of it):

Text properties are keyframeable

Any property with a variable number value is keyframeable that is, its values can be changed over time automatically. We won't do that right here, but we will soon. Also note that the little pull-down menu at the end of the property fields (the down-pointing triangle) will let you reset each property to its default, as well as manage any keyframes you might have:

You can reset each property to its default

Watch out for Part 2 of Designing Titles in Final Cut Pro X.

Richard Lainhart

Richard Lainhart | Articles by this author

Richard Lainhart is an award-winning composer, filmmaker, and author. His compositions have been performed in the US, Europe Asia, and Australia, and recordings of his music have appeared on the Periodic Music, Vacant Lot, XI Records, Airglow Music, Tobira Records, Infrequency, VICMOD, and ExOvo labels. His animations and short films have been shown in festivals in the US, Europe, and Asia, and online at ResFest, The New Venue, The Bitscreen, and Streaming Cinema 2.0. He has authored over a dozen technical manuals for music and video hardware and software, served as Contributing Editor for Interactivity and 3D Design Magazines, and contributed to books on digital media production published by IDG, Peachpit Press, McGraw Hill, and Miller Freeman Books. Previously an Adobe Certified Expert in After Effects and Premiere, a demo artist for Adobe Systems, and co-founder of the official New York City After Effects User Group, he was, from 2000-2009, Technical Director for Total Training Productions, an innovative digital media training company based in New York and California.


You must be logged in to post a comment.
Create an Account  Login Now

What is macProVideo.com?

macProVideo.com is an online education community featuring Tutorial-Videos & Training for popular Audio & Video Applications including Adobe CS, Logic Studio, Final Cut Studio, and more.
© 2018 macProVideo.com
a division of NonLinear Educating Inc.