|A Creative COW Final Cut Pro Tutorial
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Yes! There's really a Boris! And he really wrote this tutorial for you. It takes advantage of the free Boris FX title generators included with Final Cut Pro, with a little help from the Boris Continuum Complete video effects plug-ins, for titling power you might not known you had available inside FCP. Don't have BCC? Don't worry. Use the free demo version you can find at BorisFX.com.
I bet you never thought you could make something like this right inside your Final Cut project. Well, with the help of Final Cut native tools plus a new filter from Boris Continuum Complete 5, and of course this tutorial, now you can!
I will reveal my sources: the inspiration came from watching an old Elvis clip where the King of Rock'n'Roll is performing in front of huge LED sign bearing his name. Note how the led lights trace the edges of the letters, I thought that would be hard to do, but not with the powerful new tools I had at my disposal.
The plan was first to create the text using one of the built-in Final Cut text generators and then add a filter to achieve the desired effect. This would give us an opportunity to save the Final Cut project and easily reuse it on other occasions with different client text samples. But the text generator has to be very flexible. In a moment you will see why.
I chose Title 3D from the Boris Calligraphy set of text generators that come already installed, free, inside your copy of Final Cut Pro. (Also included in Calligraphy are Title Crawl, Vector Shape and Text Scrambler). You can find them under Generators/Boris in your effects palette.
Other Boris plug-ins such as RED or Graffiti feature the same text tool, but are even more powerful. For the purpose of this tutorial Title 3D is sufficient and as I mentioned it is free with every copy of Final Cut.
Now drop Title 3D to the V1 track of your timeline. Next, double click on the title clip and reveal the Controls Tab in your Viewer window.
Next, click on the Title 3D banner. The standard Boris Text Editor comes up. This window contains all necessary text style and typography controls as well as the pane to enter and edit text.
Type the word ELVIS in capital letters with the 150 point Arial font.
I chose Arial because it is standard on all Apple systems but I can see how other sans-serif fonts would work very well too.
Now we need to make our first typographical adjustment. Note how letters E and L are too close. This will present a problem when we trace them with the LED lights. The same problem can be observed with V and I at the top of the V. We need to use the Kerning slider to change the distance between individual letters without disturbing other letter pairs.
This can be accomplished with ease by placing the I-beam cursor between the two letters. Now adjust the Kerning parameter to a value of 10. Kerning feature works on pairs of letters. Note how the value of the slider changes as you move the I-beam to the next pair.
Now the individual letters are spaced out more evenly and we are ready to work on the style of this text. Obviously we are only interested in the outlines of the letters and not the fill. By choosing the Fill tab and un-checking the Fill checkbox we can get rid of the fill.
Make sure that your text is selected (Command A) before clicking on the checkbox as most of the style controls are selection based. At that point the text should disappear in the Text Edit Pane but not to worry, we will bring it back by turning on a border in the next tab.
The border tab offers you up to five borders to work with but only one is necessary for our effect.
Click on the top border checkbox while the text selection is still remaining. The only other change that I recommend at this point is to set the border color to white (as oppose to default black) to make it more visible against the black background while we are working on our effect in Final Cut. Other than that the color does not matter because we are not going to see it in the finished product.
Now we are done with the text work. Click Apply to close the Text Editor window.
Finally, we are ready to work with the LED filter from BCC 5 set. It is installed under Video Filters/BCC 5 OpenGL as one of the new Open GL filters in the package. Drop this filter on our text clip and get ready to work with its controls in the Filters tab of the Viewer.
At first your Canvas will show something resembling Braille characters rather than a LED sign. But do not be discouraged, the LED filter can be adjusted to find the edges of the text and make a good-looking sign.
First we drop the Size down to 7 to make the edges more granular. There is also a Gap parameter that would widen the distance between the LEDs but I found that I like to leave it at 0 to match the size of the LEDs. And I changed the Color to a yellow tone although red and green are very common with traditional LED signs.
Now I’m ready to work on the look that is more specific to the physical LED displays. Naturally all LED signs will glow at night and flicker after they are turned on. I found that I can achieve this by changing Flickering Speed (3), Amount (25), Glow Size (8), Glow Brightness (13).
I’d like to mention that the imperfections most notable on the V and the S letters are common with the LED displays because the square grid of LED lights will never perfectly trace a complex shape. Our eye will compensate for this imperfection. Overall the filter has done a pretty good job of finding the borders of the letters and replacing them with the LED light bulbs.
To place the sign in 3D space to match the rest of the composite I recommend another BCC filter BCC DVE Basic which comes very handy since Final Cut own Motion tab will only allow a 2D rotation.
Another cool idea is to simulate the crawling LED sign. For that we would need to crawl our text object horizontally “before” applying the LED filter to insure that the LED bulbs remain in the same position and simply turn on and off as the text goes by. That could be a problem since the Motion tab will move your layer “after” all filters are applied. But this is where Title 3D becomes handy again. We can use it’s own built in transform that is applied before any other filter gets its turn. I’m going to keyframe Position X from left to right to achieve the crawling LED effect.
I would also boost my Glow and Flicker controls for added realism and render the entire clip out to check the final look and feel of the effect. A single frame may look something like this:
There are a number of other applications of the LED filter besides text. But that will be a subject for another tutorial.
You'll find Boris in several forums here around the Cow, especially in the Boris FX forum, where he posts under the screen name "theBoris."
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