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Rolling Titles Made Easy


Before I jump into this column's topic, I want to tell you about some interesting mail I received after the last article on digital slideshows.

Brad White of Honolulu, explained how he attracts interest to his site, by creating QuickTime slideshows that feature his original panflute music with images of Hawaii.

Brad discovered an easy way to make these shows using an application called, LiveSlideShow. Here's what Brad has to say in his own words.

I've been wanting for some time to combine my two creative loves: digital photography and my own original music. I write and record panflute music to feature on my web site

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Digital Still Cameras for QuickTime Movies, Part One

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To help me with this production, I needed a program that would produce shows that could be viewed on both Macs and PCs. I finally found a program that could do all that, Totally Hip Software's LiveSlideShow.

LiveSlideshow produces quality slideshows in the QuickTime format. I found it to be very intuitive, and within moments of starting it up for the first time, I was creating digital presentations.

Screenshot of LiveSlideshow.
LiveSlideShow makes creating professional quality slideshows a snap. And the latest version is Mac OS X compatible.

It couldn't be easier. Start the program and choose the pictures (in JPEG format) that you would like for your show. Then simply drag each picture onto a horizontal bar representing the timeline and in the same manner drag the transitions, of which there are about a dozen, between each picture. There you have it! See a preview or save to a QuickTime movie format.

The program also allows you to make custom interfaces with which your viewers can use to navigate through your show or let it run in auto format. Really, for a full-featured program such as this to cost only $49 is quite a find. To see what I have done please go to the photography section of my site

Thanks Brad. The terrific thing about saving content in the QuickTime format is that you can continue to manipulate it depending on your changing needs. Whether, for example, you create a slideshow from scratch or using an application such as LiveSlideShow, up the road you can further modify your presentation using different tools.

I'm now going to show you an easy method for creating rolling credits that can be added to any existing QuickTime presentation.

Rolling credits using AppleScript

Many people don't know about the dozens of scripts and droplets that are available to automate QuickTime content creation. You can download the entire package from the AppleScripts for QuickTime page on the Apple site.

The script icon.
Script icon.

There's a script package for version 4 and for version 5 of QuickTime. One of the gems included in this package is a handy rolling credits script.

Note: Some of the commands I refer to in this column require the "Pro" version of QuickTime which you can purchase from the Apple web site for about $30.

Once you've downloaded and installed the script package (don't forget to restart), you'll see all sorts of goodies on the dropdown menu when you click on the script icon. Go to "Text Tracks" and select "Rolling Credits for Front Movie."

Selecting Text Tracks from the dropdown menu.
You can find the script needed to create rolling credits under the Text Tracks heading.

Even if you've never used AppleScript in your life, you'll have no problem. In fact, this could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship!.

One thing you should know: You can't use this script unless you have a movie open. If you run the script without a movie, it does nothing. Also, before you get going, you might want to choose the font and the size of the letters by hitting the Set Prefs button. Make sure you know what font you want ahead of time (and how to spell it), because there are no dropdown menus here.

Now you're ready to roll. Hit the continue button and type in the opening title of your movie. If you'd like to include additional rolling credits, type in that information in the subsequent fields.

AppleScript will then create a temporary movie file in a separate window. If you want to use the complete rolling credit, choose "Select All" followed by "Copy" to place the title on the clipboard. Then bring forward your original movie window, move the pointer on the scrubber bar to the beginning of the clip, and select "Paste." The title is now added to your movie.

Here's a fast downloading sample with lots of room on the back side to see the kind of titles this script produces.

Rolling Credits in Action

Click to view a QuickTime movie of the Palm robot in action.

Here's a short movie of a Palm-powered robot in action. The opening and closing titles were created with AppleScript.

Quick tip: If you want to display an introductory title without subsequent credits, you can just fill in the first title field and call it a day. The problem is, that the script causes the title to roll too fast and doesn't leave enough room behind it for a graceful transition to the video.

The trick is to enable one or two subsequent titles behind the main title, without putting any text in those fields. AppleScript will then generate a nicely-paced rolling title with generous black space behind it.

All you have to do then is "trim" the rolling credit to the desired length (Option > Edit > Trim), then copy and paste it into your movie.

You can create a second rolling credit at the end of the movie too if you wish.

I hope you can take a few minutes to create some rolling titles for your existing projects. In the meantime, keep sending those e-mail suggestions to:

Derrick Story is the author of The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers, The Digital Photography Companion, and Digital Photography Hacks, and coauthor of iPhoto: The Missing Manual, with David Pogue. You can follow him on Twitter or visit

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