If you look at the two most popular non-linear editing applications out in the market right now, Avid Media Composer and Apple Final Cut Pro, they both have one very specific thing that seems to have been poorly designed from the start and never really updated to its full potential. That would be the title tool. Be it called a text generator or whatever name the company has chosen to call it they both work very poorly. I’ve ranted about this before but thought it would be good to get into a little more depth. WTF that they can’t be fixed after all these years?

By far the worst of the two title tools is the Final Cut Pro text generator. This thing needs to be taken out behind the woodshed and put out of its misery:


The biggest problem I have with the FCP text generator is that it is not really a WYSIWYG tool. You do all of your work under the Viewer’s Controls tab with the only visual interaction with what you are doing happening over in the Canvas. My technique is usually to call up the text generator, edit the default generator into the timeline, double click the generator to open it back in the Viewer, make my title, often having to hit command+3 to see the update in the Canvas and then tweak until it is right. After that point it’s tweak in the Viewer and watch the changes in the Canvas.

And the Boris Title 3D generator isn’t that much better. Yes it is more WYSIWYG when designing the title in the Boris specific interface and you can change some individual parameters by selecting words or characters but it is still a pain.


The Boris Title 3D tool is infinitely more usable than FCP’s text generator and you can design some nice looking text but it is still so separated from the frame you are designing on that it could be better. A lot better.

The Avid title tool does attempt a more WYSIWYG approach. When you open the title tool the current frame of the playhead in the timeline is displayed as the background of the title tool. This helps immensely with placement and design. You can even turn that preview frame off if you just want to work on a black background. So far so good. But the Avid title tool seems to be hobbled by what I guess is old code in that it just often doesn’t want to behave.

The most frustrating thing that happens in the Avid title tool is you have to constantly click, drag and reframe the title box if you want to add more text. How many time have you ended up with the vertical type?


Too many times to mention I would guess. And if you can have an NLE with realtime title playback why not have a title tool that can be in “design mode” and

But wait you say! Both Avid and Apple have created fantastic external titling and motion graphic programs that are infinitely capable of producing any and every kind of title an editor could imagine. They are only limited by the editor’s imagination and skill set. And you can easily integrate Avid and Apple’s other titling solutions into your edits. Avid has both Marquee and Avid FX that can be used to title creation. Apple had Livetype and Motion. All of these apps have great integration with their respective hosts. You can drop a Motion or Livetype project right in the timelime of FCP. In Avid, Avid FX has its own generator right in the fx palette. And all of these applications will produce amazingly beautiful, fully animated titles and then some! While this is true these separate apps are often way overkill, especially in an offline edit. IMHO a good non-linear editing application title tool must be quick, simple, WYSIWYG and integrated. Motion and Marquee are none of those things.

That brings us to Adobe Premiere. The current version, CS4 almost has it just right. Just one look at the title tool and you can see it is light years ahead of both Avid and FCP:


All of the elements are there for proper design. The current frame is visible, it will change as you scroll the Premiere Pro timeline and there is even a tool in the upper right corner to scroll the timeline without leaving the title tool. There are proper design and alignment tools that will be familiar to any Photoshop user. There are title styles available with good previews as well as a template viewer:


The PPro title tool is even a place where you can build more intricate graphic treatments with the ability to import logos and graphics as well as use any number of shapes and drawing tools. And while PPro does offer all this functionality it is still simple enough to simply and quickly make a few keystrokes and have a working title on your image. Quick, easy and especially useful for an offline edit.

How could it be better? In my mind the perfect title tool isn’t going to be a seperate window but a tool that I can choose from my tool pallette and simple click directly on my edit window and get a cursor and begin typing. Maybe when I hit enter will it then prompt me for a duration, the bin to save the title into or the video track in which to insert or overwrite the new title. One click title generation is what I consider the holy grail of my NLE title tool. Adobe Premiere Pro gets closer but it isn’t perfect just yet. If we could only get Avid and Apple on board then we might get some good titling accomplished.