Creating a Cool Title Sequence in Final Cut Pro

Opening and closing title sequences may be a small percentage of the total length of a film, but they pack a mighty punch. Think about some movies you’ve seen with really cool titles and/or end credits sequences: Se7en, Spider-Man, Reservoir Dogs, Catch Me If You Can. And let’s not forget TV shows like MadMen, The X-Files, The Walking Dead, and hundreds of others. A title sequence sets the stage for the show.

When I think of memorable opening title sequences, "Se7en" is always the first one to come to mind.

Knowing how important a title sequence is, I always try to add some flare or panache to mine. That doesn’t necessarily mean loads of motion graphics that require 30 hours of Adobe After Effects work. Sometimes simple is enough (LOST anyone?) But, if you can add some quality to give your film a little oomph, you should.

Tribe Quest Titles Demo

Yesterday I took you through the making of the Teen Identity, fantasy-themed short film we made. Today I want to show you how I did the titles. Well, let me clarify. I want to show you how I made the ORIGINAL titles. You know, a “director’s cut” if you will. This original version was changed after Tasra and I had a “discussion” about our differences of opinion regarding it. However, my original vision is forever preserved in this demo (one small victory for a husband. My blog. My demo. 😉 ) Anyhoo, the only big difference between the two is that the final does not have a drop shadow, whereas my version does. That’s it. That’s the big difference. (You wouldn’t believe the tiff we got into over that darn drop shadow. But more on that tomorrow. 😉 )

This demo covers how I made the titles, and perhaps equally important, why. Note: I use Final Cut Pro 7, but I’m pretty sure you can figure out how to do this no matter what your NLE is. That is unless your NLE is FCPX. Then you’re on your own. (Sorry Phil). 🙂

In this lesson you’ll learn:

  • How to add a textured background
  • Adding and key framing a drop shadow on the text
  • Difficulty level: Beginner to Intermediate

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6 thoughts on “Creating a Cool Title Sequence in Final Cut Pro

  1. Am I missing something or is this Intro to Editing 101? Is this really what you call a “cool, exciting, innovative” title sequence? I don’t mean to be rude, I seriously just feel like I’m missing something because your work is normally a lot more exciting than this.

    1. My readers span a wide range of editing skills. Many of my readers are new to filmmaking and editing so while this is basic for some, for others it is not. But your comment gives me the idea of putting a difficulty rating on my tutorials. Thanks for the feedback. And, I’m happy to know you like my other stuff.

      Oh, and FWIW, I only said it was cool. I never promised exciting or innovative. 🙂

      Thanks again.

      1. Ok, ok. Fair enough. I suppose you never said exciting or innovative. I do like your idea of a rating system for your tutorials.

        1. Thanks. The other thing I realized is that a huge percentage of my audience is photographers who “grew up” on iMovie (if they’ve dabbled in NLEs at all). I guarantee you most of them don’t know how to key frame the angle or offset of a drop shadow in a Boris 3D title in FCP, or the shortcuts for changing speed or zooming into a sequence.

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