Making Great Titles for your Next Video (Part 3)

This is part 3 in a series on making great-looking lower thirds with Photoshop.

#6 – Layer Styles are your friend

While everyone knows about filters, many miss layer styles (or effects in older versions). These real-time effects combine good looks with speed and flexibility. When building titles, they are the way to go. You can use styles for shadows, glows, bevels, textures and more. Best of all they are stored within the document and can be easily modified.

Check out the following sites for more on Actions

If your edit system supports layered files, you’ll have to flatten your layer styles if you want to import the PSD document. I usually do this on a copy of the project, so I can go back to the original and make changes. The following steps can be saved as an action. Highlight the styled layer; then record the following action.
  1. Create a new layer and name it Flat. (It will be created by default right above selected layer.)
  2. Press Option+[ (Alt+[) to select the layer below to be flattened.
  3. Link to the layer named Flat.
  4. Choose merge linked from the palette’s submenu.
  5. Press STOP. (You can choose Option (Alt)+Merge Linked instead for targeted flattening).

#7 – Make it Readable

Video type needs to be big. When you are sitting less than two-feet away from your computer screen, 20 –point type looks great. When you are sitting 20+ feet away from the television, it’s worthless. Use bigger type. Here’s a simple test.
  1. Choose View> Actual Pixels.
  2. Press the F key twice to go to Full-Screen mode.
  3. Press Tab to hide your palettes.
  4. Stand up from your computer and look at it from the far corner of the room. How’s it look?
  5. Press the F key and tab to return to normal.

#8 – Make it See Through

Okay, you’re almost done. You just need to save the graphic for your edit system. Te best way to make sure everything comes in properly is to use a single layer graphic with an alpha channel. Depending on your edit system, you may need a PICT file or a TARGA file (check your owner’s manual).

There are several methods for creating alpha channels. In my opinion, this is the fastest and easiest.
  1. Turn off all layers you don’t want in the final graphic (including the background or placement image). Create a new (empty layer) and highlight it.
  2. Hold down the Option (Alt) key, choose Merge Visible. A composite layer is now created.
  3. Turn this layer off by clicking on the Eye icon.
  4. Hold down the Cmd (Ctrl) key and click on the layer name in the layer’s palette. The marching ants should encircle the layer.
  5. Switch to the Channels palette and click on the Save Selection as Channel button. Only have 1 alpha channel per document or your NLE will get confused.
  6. Choose File>Save As to Save A Copy as a PICT or TARGA with an alpha channel included. Photoshop 7 users who need TARGA files should download the free update to fix a bug with transparency