A few years ago I attended a videography seminar during which the presenter demonstrated how to create a title with letters that looked like they were being written on to the screen as the title appeared. The animation was done in After Effects, and as the presenter explained the process, it was pretty complicated!
Many of the attendees were very impressed and I must admit it looked pretty cool when it was all finished. But I remember that my brain hurt after watching all the steps, and I knew I’d never actually go through all that just to create an opening title with that kind of animated text effect.
But it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Now there is a much easier solution for accomplishing exactly the same effect: the ShowstoppersFX Animation Construction Kit Series. While I personally tend to steer away from effects such as this in my work—everybody’s got their style, and by and large, animated text isn’t mine—I know there are many videographers who would love to get this kind of effect into their productions without having to master After Effects to do it, and they will find this tool fabulous. I received the NTSC HD and SD kit, which sells for $399.95 on the ShowstoppersFX website, and is also distributed through Safe Harbor Computers discounted at $379.95.
The Animation Construction Kit Series is compatible with Final Cut Pro, Premiere 6.5, all versions of Premiere Pro, Premiere Elements, Liquid 6 and 7, Edius 4.5, and Vegas 6, 7, and 8. I reviewed the SD title animations using Premiere Pro CS2 and the HD animations using Premiere Pro CS3. Both worked flawlessly.
How It Works
In a nutshell, the ShowstoppersFX Animation Construction Series is a series of short animations of individual letters of the alphabet being written along with stills of each letter. There are supporting animations with a gold pen and wand that can be used if you want the effect to include such an instrument and "fairy sparkles" or bubbles if you want to make your title look like something from a Disney movie. Basically, you match up an animation of the letter you want and end it with a still (to keep the letter on screen). Each letter has an alpha-channel layer, so you layer the letters and move them as needed to create your word. The instructions are very easy to follow and I was able to create a title in HD in about 10 minutes.
Also included in the kit are some "Bonus Words" that may be commonly used in wedding and event videos such as "Our," "Wedding," "Bat Mitzvah," and "Preparations." Each bonus word includes the pen, wand, sparkles, and bubble animations too.
You can also change the color easily by using your NLE’s color-correction tool. I included a still frame using the Bonus Word "Wedding" with the sparkles, bubbles, and wand all added and made it sort of pink. It was very simple to do.
How I TestedI tested this product using Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 on a dual core 2.41GHz system with 3GB RAM and a Matrox RT.X2. The title I created using the ShowstoppersFX animations took 11 layers and about 2 minutes to render. If you want to add in the pen or the Disney Princess Fairy Dust (Sparkles), all you have to do is add more layers and copy and paste your motion attributes. On my system with the Matrox RT.X2, adding the sparkles and magic wand expanded the timeline to 33 layers and took about 10 minutes to render.
All in all, while the types of animations offered in this product aren’t really the types I use in my productions and titles, I do have to give it a good grade because it was easy to use, worked well, and consistently produced high-quality results.
Laura Randall (info at edit1media.com), an award-winning videographer, popular speaker at videography conventions, and 2006 EventDV 25 honoree, runs Seattle-area studio Edit 1 Media with her husband, Chris.