How to jazz up homemade videos with animated titles

You’ve shot and edited your video and now it’s time to add the finishing touch: a title! Every great film deserves a fitting title, and you want yours to set the right mood so family and friends will look forward to the show ahead. Here’s where a little razzle-dazzle with animated text will make your work stand out from the crowd of untitled homebrew videos.

You can craft a stunning title using a motion graphics application like Adobe After Effects or Apple Motion. But these programs are too complicated for just cranking out a title, and mastering them takes time and effort. So it’s a good thing Cyberlink PowerDirector 9 lets you build great-looking animated titles in just a few minutes.

First, choose a background image for your title screen. A photo or a still from one or your video clips will do.

Next, it’s time to “enter” the program’s Title Room. (PowerDirector is organized around “rooms” for editing, transitions, effects, and so on.) My first time in the Title Room, I was surprised to see just two choices: a bare-bones title template and a link to CyberLink’s DirectorZone. But these are all you need. Novices or people in a hurry should check out the DirectorZone, an online community of PowerDirector users that offers hundreds of customizable templates that are ready to go. Woot!

CyberLink DirectorZone is an online community that offers tons of free, prebuilt, and downloadable title templates created by users just like you.

Wading through all those titles takes some time, but you can filter searches by categories such as Graduation, Party, Vacations, Sports, and lots more. When you find one you like, just download it and install it as you would a browser plug-in. It shows up in PowerDirector’s Title Room automatically.

I’m more of a DIY kind of guy, so I went straight for the bare-bones title template, dragged it to the start of my timeline, and double-clicked it to launch PowerDirector’s Title Designer. If you’ve used titlers in other editing programs or worked with text in Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator, you’ll find PowerDirector’s easy to grok.

All the basic controls for tweaking the size, spacing, and text are right there at the top of the preview window, while changing text colors is done using buttons running down the left side of the screen.

Intuitive text editing tools let you quickly achieve the look you’re after.

You can also adjust transparency (how see-through the letters are) and the angle of the shadow your text casts. (The latter is especially useful for matching shadows in your background image.)

Sliders let you quickly adjust transparency and shadows.

Animating a title is as easy as choosing from a list of interesting effects. There are lots of fun ways to make the title enter and leave the screen. For example, you can have a flock of letters assemble themselves and then fade out, or have each letter change size in a rolling motion and then slide off the screen.

The Title Designer includes a slew of cool animated text effects for adding motion to your titles.

Naturally, you can preview your work while experimenting. My laptop’s second-gen Intel Core i7 processor was able to display complex animated text effects after the briefest of pauses, thanks to optimizations that let PowerDirector tap the CPU’s computational horsepower. Note: PowerDirector reduces graphics resolution during title previews for fast playback, and that blurs the text a bit. But after you’ve saved them, titles are gorgeous. Check out these examples on YouTube.

Next: a look at sharing videos on smartphones, portable media players, game consoles — plus fun and games with CyberLink MediaEspresso.

[ This sponsored article was written by IDG Creative Lab, a partner of TechHive. ]

Subscribe to the Now Playing Newsletter