MacMost Now 328: Custom Titles in iMovie 09

If you want to go beyond the default titles built into iMovie 09, you can create your own titles in a graphic editor. You can bring them into iMovie as titles between clips, or as overlays on top of existing video.

Video Transcript
Hi, this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode, let's learn how to make custom titles in iMovie 09. So the titles built into iMovie 09 are great if you want something quick, and you like the styles that are there. But a lot of people don't realize, you can use a feature in iMovie to create any type of title that you want. Let's take a look at how to do it. So there are two types of titles in iMovie. The first is "full screen", and it appears in-between existing video clips. So we're going to put a title type before this video clip here. We want to first figure out the size of the movie, so we can create an image
that's appropriate size. So we go into the project properties, and we look and we see that we're set to 4:3 ratio. So when export the movie, we have a lot of different options, and we can see the different ones here, like 640x480, 720x540. We want to pick the one we're going to use. Say, if we're going to do 640x480, and we're going to make the image that size, or we can make it one of these larger sizes, cause it'll shrink down just fine. In this case, we'll just do it 640x480. So I'm going to use SeaShore to create this graphic. I showed you how to use SeaShore last week. It's a free program you can use. And you can use something else, like Photoshop Elements, Photoshop, Adobe Fireworks, anything that is a robust image creating program. So we're going to do 640x480 as the size of the graphic, and the rest of this can just stay as standard. We create it, we got this palette here, it's colored white. Let's say we want to do a black background, we're going to fill in the background with black. Then we're going to add some text to it, we're going to make the text color white. Uh, let's make it kind of an orange. Then we're gonna type some text. And we'll add it there. Of course you can all sorts of things here. You can put images in here, backgrounds, photos, anything you want to color this up. You can draw shapes, do all sorts of different things. So let's just draw a quick little brush stroke... like that. Then we're gonna go and export this, and we're gonna export it as a png file, which is pretty standard. We're gonna to save that out, and then we're gonna bring that into iMovie. Here we are in iMovie, and I've got this file right here, which I am ready to drag and drop into my projects. One of the things I want to make sure I do is in iMovie preferences I have advanced tools enabled. I'm going to drag this in here, and I'm going to put it before the first clip, and it puts it in there as a photo. I can now change the cropping of it. I don't want to do Ken Burns, I just want it to fit. Click done. I can also go in here and make clip adjustments, like length of it. I can add some video effects if I want. I can even do some color adjustments. Then I can also add a transition to it. Like spin out, so it spins out from the title to the first clip. Now another type of title is a overlay that appears over existing video, so typically we'd make this image semi-transparent. We're going to make it full frame, 640x480, and click off transparent background in SeaShore. There's similar things that you could do in Photoshop, Fireworks, and other programs to create a semi-transparent image. You want to make sure that you do them, learn how to do them in those programs. So then we get in SeaShore here a white background I'm going to set to 0% opaque, going to create a new layer. Going to select a portion of that new layer, basically the bottom third, and I'm going to set the color to 50% black and fill it in. So now we've filled that in. Now we're going to go and under the selection, is what I just did there, create a new layer there. I'm gonna change the color to white 100%. And I'm going to add some text. I can then move this text around, position it, and now I can export this again as a png. It's my lower third. So here we are back in iMovie, I'm going to drag this lower third over to this video here and use picture and picture. Now when I do that I can see over here it appears as a small upper right-hand corner graphic. I can change that pretty easily by first setting the cropping to hit the entire thing, then I'm going to expand it to full size. Now if I go a little bigger than full size, iMovie actually gets rid of it, so you want to make sure it stays there. So you can see it, lower third over the video. If I go into the actual area where there's video, you can see it there, and you can see semi-transparent here, a bar across the bottom, with the text, fully opaque. I can adjust on this side here so it only appears over this video area. And I've created my custom lower third, and I can put anything I want there. Put graphics, drawings, lots of different things with fonts and text, and I can put it at the top of the screen, in the middle of the screen, off to the side. Do whatever I want to fill in this frame with semi-transparent artwork. So that's how you create a custom title in iMovie using a graphics program like Photoshop, Fireworks or SeaShore. And of course you can combine the two types of titles. For instance, you can create a full screen title. So say if you had a scene at the beginning, and you wanted to run titles over it, you can create a series of images that then you transpose on top of it. The hardest part of this for most people is getting the background of the graphic to be semi-transparent. If you are not experienced with graphic programs, it can be very difficult. So look for tutorials for whatever program you're using, say if it's Photoshop Elements, as to how to create these semi-transparent backgrounds, and make sure you export your graphics as 32-bit pngs, to make sure it keeps that transparent background in your final graphic. Hope you found this useful, till next time this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.

Comments: 40 Responses to “MacMost Now 328: Custom Titles in iMovie 09”

    3/26/10 @ 7:01 pm

    Awesome! Just what I needed to add labels to a product demo video. Thanks!!!

    11/5/10 @ 6:10 am

    I tried doing what you did with the custom video bar at the bottom, and it works like great when I’m previewing it in the timeframe, but when I publish (as HD), the opacity is lost and I get a big black box covering my screen. any suggestions?

      11/5/10 @ 6:22 am

      That’s odd. Perhaps try a different graphic to confirm whether or not it is that particular image? I’ve never run into your problem before, so I can’t imagine what could be causing it.

        11/5/10 @ 6:55 am

        It doesn’t seem to be the graphic. I merely made a white bar in photoshop at the bottom of the screen, made the background layer transparent, and I have two small logos on the bottom bar. I’m messing around with different variables now seeing what happens. I wish there was a different quicker method to check each variable, but its 10-15 minutes to publish each time (to the worst setting). I’ll keep you informed.

        11/5/10 @ 7:13 am

        I don’t know what I’m doing wrong here. I got rid of the background entirely, saved as a PNG, even did a save for web to be sure the png would be transparent. Still getting the black box around the small bar (since the size is set to 1280X720). I’m not sure if it’s the player i’m using, or what. Very frustrating…

        11/5/10 @ 8:03 am

        AHH. I literally mimicked EVERYTHING you did. Even installed seashore. No Luck. I’m pulling out my hair trying to figure this out

          11/5/10 @ 11:55 am

          I wish I could help — but it is hard to do from messages. I’m sure if you played around with it enough you would find the difference.

            Sean Roach
            12/3/10 @ 2:11 pm

            Is there a way to insert a blank transparent overlay png, and then write over it in iMovie, essentially making three layers?

              12/3/10 @ 2:20 pm

              So you mean the first layer is the video, the second is a picture-in-picture overlay, and the third is a text title? Yes. That works.

                Lauren Rogers
                2/15/11 @ 2:29 pm

                How does that work. I inserted a picture on top of a video and now I want to add an arrow on to the picture and it doesn’t give me the option to do a picture in picture in picture.

                  2/15/11 @ 3:02 pm

                  You can only do one picture-in-picture at a time. So use an image editing tool (Photoshop, perhaps) to compose an image that has both the initial picture and the arrow.

    11/8/10 @ 10:30 am

    Is there a way to do custom transitions with the overlays other than the simple fade in/fade out similar to the other titles?

    11/18/10 @ 11:38 pm

    This is a great tutorial! So easy! It worked perfectly with Photoshop I was able to delete the middle of my image to apply a custom border with viedo in the middle. Thanks.

    1/13/11 @ 11:11 am

    I am having the same problem w/ seashore. But I think it may be because of the newer version as used in episode 423 with the different operating setup? What would be different about using this new seashore in making the title that you demo’ed?

      1/13/11 @ 11:25 am

      Is there a step that isn’t matching what I have shown? Try to follow it exactly, and let me know where something looks difference so I can identify which part is causing the trouble.

    1/13/11 @ 11:13 am

    I meant to say the same problem as kevin had.

    1/13/11 @ 11:36 am

    I figured it out. You don’t have to create so many layers. All that needs to be done is create the box, fill it with 50% opaque(of the exact color consistency you want), then add the text at 100% opaque. And of course export it in the same manner as shown in the video.

    2/13/11 @ 12:29 am

    hey, im trying to do exactly what you are showing. I have iMovie 09.
    But when i try to drag the image over the video, there is no option to “Picture in picture”. Just “Replace” and “Insert”. Please help!

      2/13/11 @ 10:20 am

      It sounds like you haven’t turned on Advanced Tools in the iMovie preferences.

    5/24/11 @ 3:04 pm

    I’m having the same problem as Kevin and Luke. The black box only appears when I select “Fit”. If I select “Crop”, it works, but then it DOESNT fit, and it’s blurry.

    Luke, I tried doing what you said and not creating as many layers, which didn’t make a difference.

    I also have the newest version of Seashore. Any suggestions?

    5/24/11 @ 3:12 pm

    I wish I could delete my last comment, because I tried what Luke said a second time and it worked. I must have missed something the first time. Thank you!

    6/6/11 @ 12:36 am

    When I use the picture in picture for my transparent png file from photoshop, i can see it fine when my scrubber is over the section of the video that has the png inserted, but when i go to play it, the png doesn’t appear. yet, if i start to play the video from the point where my scrubber is over the png section, it is perfectly visible. Am i missing something? and when i export to itunes to preview it, the png will appear, but a black box appears over the background image. What is going on?

      6/6/11 @ 7:19 am

      Keep in mind that the preview inside of iMovie is just a preview — meaning that it is a real-time rendering that gives you an idea of what the final product will look like. So don’t worry about how it looks in the preview. Export to find out how it really looks.
      As for the black box, play with the cropping (Crop vs. Fixed).

    8/7/11 @ 11:31 am

    I can’t seem to get it transparent at all, with the old or newer Seashore.. I was so looking forward to using this for lower thirds. I think I’ve tried everything, I’ve watched the video 4x, I tried what Luke said as well. Not sure what else to try, I’m using iMovie ’09.

      8/7/11 @ 12:20 pm

      Maybe try using something other than Seashore then. Or, find a friend who knows how to use Photoshop or something similar to help.

    8/22/11 @ 12:49 am

    Thanks for this tutorial. Is there a way to add custom images (via the transparent PNG method) on TOP of the custom imovie titles? I’m using iMovie 08 and it seems it only allows one or the other?

    8/22/11 @ 12:49 am

    oos i meant on top of the STOCK iMovie titles

      8/22/11 @ 7:31 am

      You can combine picture-in-picture and titles, yes. The titles always appear on top of the images, though. But you can simply avoid that by putting the titles in a different area of the screen so they don’t’ conflict.
      (I’m talking about iMovie 11, not sure what was possible in the old old version, but try it).

    8/22/11 @ 12:08 pm

    Thanks for the tutorial.

    The issue I am having is that the text in my .png file comes out blurry in the video. The .png image is the same size as the HD export for the video. I exported the video to check what it will actually look like and it is definitely blurry. Any ideas?

    Also, I have read on another tutorial that there’s a bug in iMovie 09 where if you switch from Ken Burns to fit or cropped, then it puts in a black opaque box. So, you can keep it on Ken Burns and just make the start and end size the same.

    2/23/12 @ 12:15 am

    Thank you SO much! I’ve been looking for this solution for what seems like an age! Very much appreciated ;D

    4/13/12 @ 8:17 pm

    Gary… LOVE your videos… Question, can you have more than one picture in picture in one project. iMovie will not give me the option? Also my transitions go gray if I have the pnp spread over the transition…

    I am trying to get an image to remain on the entire video (like a watermark)… I thought this was my solution but maybe not??

      4/13/12 @ 8:21 pm

      Only one picture-in-picture in iMovie at a time. Can’t stretch effects over transitions either.

        4/13/12 @ 8:40 pm

        Any suggestions for putting a watermark on an entire video?

          4/14/12 @ 6:36 am

          In your case, export the finished product. Then bring that back into a new iMovie project and add a picture-in-picture watermark or use titles to add a watermark. Then export again.

    4/14/12 @ 7:11 am

    Works great Gary!! Really appreciate all of the personal attention.

    9/5/12 @ 7:51 pm

    when I add a picture over picture, it works fine till I added it and change it to fit, then it loses it’s transparency. any suggestions?

      9/5/12 @ 7:53 pm

      Don’t change it to “fit” just resize it using the corners and it should be OK.

    11/9/12 @ 2:46 pm

    Is it possible to add a custom title over a default title from iMovie? I made a title/label in SS and tried adding it over the “Scrolling Credits” title from iMovie, but there is no option for picture-on-picture. Am I doing something wrong or is it just not possible?

      11/9/12 @ 3:08 pm

      You cannot have two effects at the same time in iMovie.

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