MacMost Now 491: iMovie Title Tricks

While the set of iMovie 11 titles is more limiting than most video editing tools, you can use some simple tricks to place and style titles. Some of the title options allow you to position the text by simply inserting lines and changing font properties.

Video Transcript
Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode let's play around with iMovie titles.
So iMovie is built foe ease of use and efficiency. As a result it doesn't have as many features as some of the more advanced editing tools. For instance you can't just create any type of title you want. You have to stick to one of the types of titles that are available. But you can do some interesting things with them. Let's play around.
So here in iMovie I've selected the title icon and I can see all the different titles available. Now a lot of these are really preset. There's things like Echo or about Four Corners do very specific things and you can't change too many options. But, some of the titles like Centered, Lower Third, Lower, Upper, Scrolling Credits etcetera have some ways that you can alter them.
For instance let's take the Centered title and drag it to our clip and it puts some text here right in the center. Now you've got a main title and also a subtitle underneath. One of the first things you can do is you can get rid of one of those two things. So for instance I can get rid of the subtitle just by deleting it, and now I just have one line here that's one size. I can then add more text to it and it will remain the same size. So I can add a whole bunch of stuff to the title right there. Now I can also get the title to go to top or the bottom by simply adding spaces, so for instance, I can add a bunch of spaces here at the bottom and push the text to the top. Likewise I can push the text to the bottom by adding a bunch of spaces before it. I can also select it here, click show fonts and play with the fonts and also the color here. I can also change the color of the outline from like to dark and I can right justify or left justify the text so for instance I can put it to the left. I'm done here. Then go in and put some spaces there for it to push it in the upper left corner. A better way to get to the corners I find is to use either the Lower or the Upper titles, bring those in, and then select it. You can do show fonts and I can go to the left instead of the right and I can also here insert some lines to bring it to the top. And for more font options click on show fonts but then go and choose the system font panel here. And then you can change more things about it. So let's select text here and go to light or italic for Gill Sans. We'll try out all sorts of fonts that, different sizes and we can adjust more things like the basic Kerning the baseline, even the outline.
There are two types of scrolling credits here. The regular scrolling credits, and there's also the far far away scrolling credits down here. Now when you use these you might want to do them over a regular background so I'll just do them over black here and they scroll at a certain speed you notice that when I play it back if you got a lot of text in here like for instance let's just copy and paste a bunch of text here. It won't be quite right but if I play this back you can see it goes really fast. Well the trick is you just need to give it a little more time. It will scroll as fast as the amount of time you've given it so if I select this clip here, extend it to say twenty seconds rather than just four seconds, now when I play it back it scrolls so the entire credits go over twenty seconds, the same thing for the far far away credits.
So if you use iMovie a lot it may be worth while to create a sample project and play around with the different titles and see how you can alter them. Try adding extra spaces before and after the text, changing the fonts, changing the justification. And if you can't quite get the effect that you want you can always take a look at episode 328 of MacMost Now where I talk about creating custom titles using picture and picture. Until next time, this is Gary with MacMost Now.

Comments: 75 Responses to “MacMost Now 491: iMovie Title Tricks”

    dm mondt
    1/18/11 @ 1:42 pm

    is it possible to blur out a area in Imovie 11 ?

    4/23/11 @ 8:24 pm

    Is is it possible to change the color of the outline?
    Thanks, JD

      4/23/11 @ 8:37 pm

      In some cases. Select the text and bring up the standard Text Inspector.

    7/3/11 @ 4:33 pm

    How do you put the text in a box?

      7/3/11 @ 4:41 pm

      Not sure what you mean. Are you talking about one of the titles?

    7/19/11 @ 7:51 pm

    Hi! I’m trying to use the four corners of the “Four Corners” title of imove 09 and it only shows 1 corner. How I give freedom to the other 3? 0_o

      7/19/11 @ 8:02 pm

      hahhahahahha HAHHAHA I JUST DISCOVER IT RIGHT NOW!!! YAY!! I feel so smart! hahahhahahahaha xD

    8/9/11 @ 3:54 am

    Hi :D I want to use four corners but it only shows the green one. I want to use the other 3. I know how to put the other three on but I can’t do this on a picture. Whenever (for example the pink one) I put all of them on and then delete the ones that I don’t want, it doesn’t work. Please help :(

      8/9/11 @ 5:25 am

      Not sure. I haven’t played with that one. So are you saying it works over video, but not a picture? Maybe that’s true. Otherwise, just play around with it.

    9/6/11 @ 1:47 pm

    Hi Gary,

    Thanks for your videos–they are always helpful. I use iMovie to create videos for my classes, and I use titles to provide background information, pose questions, and so forth. I am using iMovie ’09, and I am mostly happy with it. Do you think that there is any compelling reason to upgrade to iMovie ’11? What I am looking for is more flexibility with the titles–I need to add more text in some places, and in some projects, I need a darker background so that the text shows up. If I cannot do these things in some version of iMovie, is there another application you would recommend? Hopefully, there is something else out there besides Final Cut Express and its painful price tag.

    Thanks again.

      9/6/11 @ 2:07 pm

      It has been so long since I have used iMovie 09 that I can’t remember if there were less titling choices. But for only $20, I would definitely upgrade to iMovie 11. No real reason to stay with an old version like that. You can see what is new here:
      Final Cut Express no longer exists. Final Cut Pro X replaces both it and Final Cut Studio. It is an excellent program, with far greater capabilities than iMovie, but at a bigger cost and learning curve.

    11/8/11 @ 4:30 pm

    Hi Gary,

    I’m trying to create a video and I’ve done many in the past, however I would like to have 2 titles… One that scrolls along the bottom (ticker) as well as one at the top corner that is stationary. Is there a way to add 2 titles to one slide? For example, I have one still picture that lasts for 60 seconds, I want the name of the car to be stationary at the top of the screen, but I want the car details to scroll along the bottom… 2 titles at the same time. I look forward to hearing your response :)

      11/8/11 @ 4:34 pm

      Only way to do it in iMovie would be to make one title, export it. Then import that as raw video. Then put the other title on top of that.

        11/8/11 @ 4:59 pm

        Would I still be able to have the still picture in there?

          11/8/11 @ 5:07 pm

          Yes. But title 1 over the picture. Export. Then import it. Put title 2 over that.

    12/3/11 @ 12:06 am

    My Far Far away title has a lot of text and when I go to change the speed it doesn’t change at all. What is happening? What can I do?

      12/3/11 @ 9:52 am

      How are you adjusting the speed? To make it last longer you need to simply extend the time. Change it from 4 seconds to 60 seconds, or whatever.

        1/27/12 @ 6:20 pm

        Hi Gary

        I tried extending the time, using the slow motion setting and also a combination of the two but I can’t get the text to slow down. All the time extension does is add on more blank space! :-( Do you have any ideas on what I could do? :-)

          1/27/12 @ 6:24 pm

          Ok, sorry, I just figured it out! Silly me!

            4/24/12 @ 10:45 am

            Chelle, could you let me know the solution you found??

            Greatly appreciated…


    12/23/11 @ 10:15 am

    Hey Gary and all,

    great tutorials! I have a problem, I’m trying to change the background color of a “simple” title. In other words, I want to create a “soft bar” title that appears on the middle of the slide, not at the bottom.
    In short – I either need to find how to put the “simple” title in a colored box or move the soft bar itself (from the “soft bar” title) to the middle of the page.
    I’ve seen it on other imovie videos but no idea how to do it. Any suggestions?

      12/23/11 @ 10:36 am

      Not sure exactly which title you are using, but keep playing with it to see what you can do. Or, just use picture-in-picture to overlay your own graphic if you know a bit about graphics programs.

    1/1/12 @ 10:32 pm

    Hello. I’m trying to layer a title in my project. There are three lines in the title. I want to have the first line, 4 seconds later have the second line appear, then 4 seconds later have the last line appear. Right now I have 3 separate title clips that fade into each other, and it’s “okay,” but I would really to title line add onto each other without fading in between each add-on. is there a way to do that in iMovie ’11?

      1/1/12 @ 11:00 pm

      Not directly, but you can use picture-in-picture to do almost anything if you have enough patience.

    1/3/12 @ 10:01 am

    Hi! I’m using iMovie for a school project and I’m creating a trailer. Is there anyway I can remove the credits or the “nominated for Best Director” added clips?

      1/3/12 @ 10:03 am

      Yes. Convert it to a regular project (one of the menu bar options, I forget which) and then you can select and delete those portions.

    John New York
    1/10/12 @ 4:22 pm

    Hi Gary –
    In iMovie ’11 I’m trying to put titles on that don’t fade in and out, just like regular subtitles that pop on and off. Do you know how to do this?

      1/10/12 @ 4:37 pm

      Sure. Just select the tile (not the clip, but the title above it). Bring up the Inspector (press I). Then set the fade duration to 0. You can also set the default fade duration to 0 in the Project Settings.

    bill roberts, UK
    1/16/12 @ 8:53 am

    Hi – I want to put text in my iMovie’11 but don;t want the background – I just want to see text as the movie plays. When I choose a title it insists I choose some background, which means I don;t see the movie. How can I have text without the title background? Thanks Bill

      1/16/12 @ 9:10 am

      Drag and drop a title from the title chooser at the bottom right to the project area and on top of an existing video clip.

    2/9/12 @ 1:00 pm

    Hi Gary,

    I’m working in iMovie ’11. I’m trying to figure out how to wipe a title from the right to the left across the center of the screen. I want it to follow an object in the video that is moving from right to left, so that the title looks like a banner following it. Is there a way to a) wipe a title from right to left and b) adjust the time so that it follows the object moving in the video? Hopefully this makes sense. There are no title options that move from right to left or left to right in my version of iMovie. Any help is greatly appreciated! Thank you!!

      2/9/12 @ 1:57 pm

      That you want isn’t a title. It is “motion graphics” — that’s something iMovie just doesn’t do. You’d need a more sophisticated editing program like Adobe Premiere Elements of Final Cut Pro to do that.

    3/1/12 @ 11:42 pm

    Hi in iMovie 11 Movie Trailers, I have selected Travel for my theme, but when I play back the words/titles are coming and going to quickly for me to read. Is there any possible way to slow the speed of the titles down? Thankyou all help is appreciated.

      3/2/12 @ 5:50 am

      To slow down titles in iMovie you need to extend the amount of time they appear. So select a title and edit its properties to change it from 4 seconds to 8 seconds, for instance. Not sure if this is possible in Trailers, though.

    3/12/12 @ 9:18 pm

    Im using the four corners title and could you help me in repositioning it? when it pops up it covers a portion of the screen I dont want it to, however Ive noticed that in other places where i have used the title effect it pops up in different more convinient places apart from a certain clip im working on

      3/12/12 @ 10:26 pm

      I don’t know of any way to reposition that particular title. But I have never really used it. Play with it.

    Amanda Slinger
    3/12/12 @ 11:15 pm

    I have inserted a title to a slide in imovie and don;t need the subtitle beneath it. I have tried to delete the subtitle that says “subtitle text here” but each time I go back into my project it is back in there again. Any ideas?

      3/13/12 @ 6:42 am

      Jut leave it. I don’t think it will appear when you export. Or, put some spaces in it.

    Amanda Slinger
    3/13/12 @ 7:42 am

    Thank you, I will try that. I am planning to show my video on a TV, what is the best way to export my project and play it?

      3/13/12 @ 8:25 am

      Depends on the TV and the playback mechanism (DVD player, cable from Mac, etc).

    Louise Gustavsen
    3/30/12 @ 1:52 pm

    HEY! I am making a imovie presentation, and I need to put a lot of information in the movie. But I don’t have a lot of options, because i can’t have more than 2-4 word before the text needs to be in a smaller font. I would like to have 2-3 sentences that shows up on the whole screeen, not just in a little space.
    Is this possible? I really can’t figure out how to put more text in, without it being ridiculously small ?

    Thank you!

      Louise Gustavsen
      3/30/12 @ 1:53 pm

      actually, nevermind.. :))))

    Matthew O'Hare
    3/31/12 @ 8:30 am

    Hi Gary,

    I have a question about iMovie, i’ve filmed a interview and i want to be able to put it together with action clips i’ve also filmed whilst the person i’m interviewing continues to speak, is there any way i can do this?

    Kind regards,


    4/15/12 @ 9:51 am

    I have just realised that Youtube have a 10 minute limit so I have to split my iMovie up – I have copied the whole film but notice that the titles i have used do not copy- I spent ages writing captions and it will take me ages to do it all again – is there any way of copying the caption/titles too?

      4/15/12 @ 10:15 am

      Sorry- I have just worked out how to do it – by duplicating the film rather than copying it.

    5/2/12 @ 10:21 pm

    OK- so I shot some interviews, but need to have subtitles underneath the clip, in Hebrew. I want to use the Ticker title to do that, bus since it’s Hebrew, I need it to go from Left to Right. The ticker tape only goes from right to left. Is there a solution? Thanks !!

      5/2/12 @ 10:36 pm

      Probably not doable in iMovie. You can do it in something like FCP, I’m sure, but you’ll have to learn a lot first. Never tried this.

    5/3/12 @ 12:26 am

    thanks, I just settled for a non moving title.

    Bob Hunt
    6/7/12 @ 5:53 pm

    I am trying to put in a title at the beginning of my imovie project; I get the background, but the words I type won’t show up when I play the project full screen. Help?

      6/7/12 @ 9:02 pm

      Hard to say why it isn’t working. Just keep trying different things.

    Bob Hunt
    6/8/12 @ 1:38 pm

    I’ve deleted it; then imported a beginning title all over again. Same thing: I get the curtain background but no text—in full screen view. In editing view, I get the text. Driving me nuts. Last thing to do in order to finish the project. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    Bob Hunt
    6/8/12 @ 1:49 pm

    Ah Ha! I had a cross fade transition between the title slide and the first picture; once I deleted the transition, the text appeared on the title as desired. The little things that can happen.

    Mark DiBlasi
    6/26/12 @ 11:47 am

    I’m trying to place a transition between two titles so that one “title clip” cross fades into the other “title clip.” Based on previous comments, I believe that the only solution for my question is to export each title clip , then import them and place as a new clips. Is this possible?

      6/26/12 @ 3:03 pm

      Yes. Or, just try to do it without the direct transition. Or, move to a higher-end app like FCPX or Premiere.

    8/26/12 @ 9:45 am

    Hi. I’m trying to do a subtitle. How do i adjust the Ticker title speed? Thanks.

      8/26/12 @ 1:10 pm

      Have you tried changing the duration? A 20 second long title should scroll slower than a 10 second one. But it has been a while…

    9/3/12 @ 9:28 pm

    Hey Gary, I wanted to change the name of my production. The very first slide. Do you know how to do that?

      9/3/12 @ 9:52 pm

      Do you mean the text in a title? Just double-click the title in the preview area to select it and type.

    10/25/12 @ 7:41 pm

    Hi Gary, You know the smaller “subtitle text here” line that is part of Centered Title? I can put my own text into the larger title text line and also the smaller line, but once I go into the Show Fonts pane both lines’ font sizes change to the larger size, effectively eliminating that sense of emphasis that the two different-sized fonts is meant to convey. Can you suggest a solution? Thanks!

      10/25/12 @ 8:22 pm

      Yes. Click the “System Font Panel” button and use that. It will only affect the text you have selected.

    10/27/12 @ 12:51 pm

    That’s the problem, actually. When I click that Panel (with, say, just the subtitle line selected) suddenly both the main title line AND the subtitle line convert themselves to a single size–the size of the main title. Then the preview animations (changes in size, color, or font) work just the way they are supposed to. But I can’t apply font changes to just the main title line or to only the subtitle line. Any further thoughts? Thanks!

      10/27/12 @ 1:41 pm

      The font panel has two modes. Use the button at the bottom of the panel that changes it to the standard system font panel, not the special iMovie one. Make sure it is that. Then use the cursor to select the text in the preview space in iMovie. You can select text there just as you would in a word processor. Select only the top line and set the font. Then select only the bottom line and set it again.

    10/27/12 @ 7:40 pm

    Wow! That worked great! You’re the best!

    11/6/12 @ 7:16 pm

    Can you have 2 titles overlapping each other on one clip? I need to use 2 different fonts.

      11/6/12 @ 8:06 pm

      Not in iMovie. But you can use two fonts in one title if you wish.

    11/15/12 @ 10:04 pm

    I can’t figure out how to cut and paste clips that have subtitles and have the subtitles get cut and pasted with the clip. When I try they just disappear and then I have to do the whole subtitling process again, which is a huge pain. Any way around this?

      11/16/12 @ 12:39 am

      Try moving (dragging) instead of cut and paste. That may work better,

    11/16/12 @ 2:10 pm

    How do I change the outline colour of the title? All I can seem to do is get it from black to white.

      11/16/12 @ 3:23 pm

      Depends on the title. Some do not allow you to change the color. Not sure what you mean by “outline” color though.

    11/24/12 @ 3:37 pm

    Is there a way to get rid of outline on the text?

      11/24/12 @ 4:11 pm

      Not sure what you mean. Are you using a title that has an outline effect around the text? If you don’t like it, use another title type.

Comments Closed.