Titles and Texts in Kdenlive. Chapter 1: Presentation and Basic Insertion


With this article I begin a series of tutorials that will deal with the topic of titles and texts in KDEnlive and the great possibilities of animation of which we have in said editor.

An element that is present in the vast majority of audiovisual productions are titles or texts, be it in the form of credits, subtitles, locations, names and a long etcetera in which we need their use.

Kdenlive has a specific wizard to create the titles that we need. This editor is very simple and efficient in terms of the preparation and decoration of texts.

This editor has a section to animate the texts when their length exceeds the limits of the screen and we have to move them so that they are displayed. An example of this is the modality of the final titles that appear at the bottom of the screen and disappear at the top, or the scrolls (texts with a single horizontal line that normally pass through the bottom of the screen) . In other cases, when the text does not exceed the limits of the screen, it is not necessary to use the animation section of the assistant. We can animate the titles using the effects of different families, especially those of the “Trim and transform” family such as “Position and Zoom or Transform”.

The power of the animation of the titles in Kdenlive lies precisely in the combination of the title assistant to create them and make use of the video effects for their animation and decoration; even if we use multiple tracks to create what are called animated background text pads. Wonders can be done. As if it were a composition program dedicated only to the creation of texts. As always happens in all artistic fields, the more elaborate we want our results to be (in this case the titles), the more time we will have to dedicate to them.

It is common for the creation of titles with very elaborate backgrounds to use external applications for their preparation, such as Gimp or Krita (to make highly elaborate static backgrounds in bitmaps that can then be inserted and animated in different layers in kdenlive. I will make a small example of this in this series of tutorials with Inkscape (vector graphics application with which, as with Gimp, we can make wonderful backgrounds and static custom texts that we can also later animate in Kdenlive), Blender (3D suite with the that you can create texts and animated backgrounds directly from this application, it is a very advanced application that is used even in professional environments.) I quote these because they are the ones I know the most, but surely there are more.

Work flow

As a reminder, mention that an audiovisual video montage project consists of several stages:

  • Basic assembly which is the story that we tell without effects or transitions, it is the base, if this base fails the project falls apart. A copy of this project is kept.
  • The second step is the advanced process where we insert the necessary effects and transitions, where we work on the color correction and attach the finished special effects clips (since in the basic montage these were still only erasers or simple color clips for filling), where the audios have already been processed of the dialogues in their corresponding track.
  • The third step is on the video clip resulting from the advanced montage to insert the texts required by the project. This assembly point is the one that we will see in this series of posts

This third step can be done with a video at low resolution to save computer resources and work with the texts in a more fluid way; once finished, the low-resolution video is replaced by a good, high-quality copy and our project is about to be exported and sent to the sound technician.

Then, with the visual project finished, the audios are finalized (we saw this in its corresponding entry).

Texts in Kdenlive

Effect “Dynamic Text”

In the family of effects called “Various” we have a great effect for horizontal single line texts called “Dynamic Text”.01_with captions.png

  • This effect only works for text with a single horizontal line.
  • The duration of the text is dependent on the length of the clip, it cannot precede or precede the clip in which it is inserted.
  • Its position, scale, and opacity parameters can be animated.
  • In the text box we can write the text we want. The length of this line of text is delimited by the width of the screen but, in case we want to scroll (text that slides horizontally across the screen) and the text exceeds the width of the screen, which should To do in this case is to only expand the width value “W” (Width in English) so that the text does not deform. This value can be expanded to a maximum of 99000px so that very, very long lines can be inserted. Then, to make the line pass, we do it by animating the position parameter “X”
  • By being able to insert a background for the text of the color that we want and even with the opacity that we need, we make sure that the text will be read over any video or image on which we insert it. With the “Fill” parameter we can choose the size of this background rectangle.
  • We can make use of keywords, although by default it comes with the tag of “# timecode #”, these are optional and can be deleted if you don’t want to use it.
  • The keywords can be selected from the drop-down that is at the bottom (just below the text box) and are useful when we want to show information such as time, date, frame number and some more data related to the clip of video to which it is inserted.

IMPORTANT: If we insert others to the clip that has this effect inserted and we observe that there are distortions in the image or in the text, we must place the “dynamic text” at the end of the stack to correct this distortion. It is advisable to insert the “dynamic text” at the end or in the phase where we put the titles, which is normally on the video clip already edited with its effects and exported for the titles phase.

Example of using the “Dynamic Text” effect

This effect is wonderful. In a simple and fast way we can add static or dynamic titles of a single line.

In the following example what I do is a presentation title or location of a specific place. In the following image I show the parameters of the effect and the result next to it.04_all.png

Full frame of the video with the inserted text:Frame.png

In this case I have made an input animation and an output animation, the only parameter that I have animated has been that of “W” “Width” (Width in English).

  1. Unlock the button so that it does not maintain the aspect.05.png
  2. Once the aspect ratio is deactivated, set the value of 1 in the width “W” in the initial keyframe.
  3. Now advance 10 frames and insert another keyframe; this will be the start of the animation, so we leave it with these values.
  4. We advance 10 more frames and insert a new keyframe; in this, being the end of the animation, we put the value of “W” in 1920 (which is the size of the video).
    anim 01.png
    Start of entrance animation

    anim 02.png
    End of entrance animation

  5. Now to make the exit animation I place myself 20 frames before the end and insert a keyframe and 10 away from the previous one, towards the end, I insert another in which I return the value of the width “W” to 1

This is a simple animation example of this text effect. I could have used position parameters to move it or opacity to fade it out. Next I put a gif image with the result. This is a clipping of the video of the piece where the text is.Gif result.gif

Add Title Clip and its assistant

To create title clips that are more complex than those seen with the previous effect, what we do is, in the project folder, choose the option “Add title clip” from the drop-down menu of the file insertion icon or simply by pressing the button. right within the aforementioned space.03.png

With the previous action, the “Title Clip” wizard opens. In the following image I have highlighted the different sections of this tool.

Assistant to create Kdenlive titles with its different sections.
  • The “Properties” tab varies according to the inserted element and in it we have all the formatting options for text and rectangles.
    txt properties 01.png
    Text properties

    Properties straight 01
    Properties for the rectangles that we create from the clip editor

  • In the “Background” tab we can choose a background color (if we wish) that will cover the entire video frame. By default the texts are inserted with an alpha channel (transparency) 100% (opacity value 0) so that the video or image underneath can be seen. When there is no video or image below the texts and we use 100% transparency, (opacity value 0) the default color is black. In this case, if we want another color, it is when from the background tab we can choose the one we like and set the opacity slider value from 0 to 255, which in this case means total opacity.
    background 01.png
    The value 0 is zero opacity (full transparency) and the value 255 is 100% opacity. In this case, the background color would be dark red or maroon.

    The option to add a background is useful when there is no video clip below the texts and we do not want the default black color or when we make a composition with a space for the video and another for the texts, this color will be the background color .

    title with background 2.png
    Example of composition using a title with a dark red background and blue rectangles created with the tool’s own wizard

  • The animation tab is necessary for texts that, due to their size, exceed the limits of the screen. We will see its use in the entry that I will talk about credits and scrolls.
  • The option “Show the background” at the bottom of the wizard is very useful when we insert text over a video or image; When we activate this box, we are shown what we see in the project monitor at the position of the playback cursor. When there is nothing, we are shown a black background, useful for headlines or end credits on a black background with white text. (It has a small bug: sometimes it shows us a green background or with colors that do not correspond to the video. Simply deactivate and reactivate the option to show background and it is corrected)
  • The layer management option is very important to be placing these in the desired order since if, for example, we have created a text and later a rectangle for the background, this will cover the text but if we send it to the background, the text will be left by above and it will be seen again.
  • The other sections do what their name indicates. By placing the cursor over it, an explicit banner of the function of each button appears.

Text and Rectangle Gradient Wizard (Gradient)

In the text and rectangle properties we observe that there is a section that allows us to create gradients; his name is not translated and appears as “Gradient”.

It is very easy to apply, just activate it, in the center rectangle we can choose between the presets that come by default or those that we have created and by pressing the pencil we go to the wizard to configure and create our own presets.gradient 01.png

The wizard to configure and create the new gradients is very intuitive: we have the possibility to choose two colors, with their opacity value. With the sliders next to each color we configure the intensity of the gradient of each color and we have a slider to vary the angle of the gradient.gradient 02.pngIn the rectangles, the gradient that we apply is seen directly in the “Title Clip” wizard, however, the texts only show the gradient when they are in edit mode in this wizard; it is not enough to have it selected, it has to be in edit mode. When we deselect them, they remain black and, if the background is black, they remain invisible.

Example of creating a simple static location title with a background rectangle

In the previous section we have seen the wizard that Kdenlive makes available to us to create titles. Now I think that the best way to explain the possibilities of this is with practical examples that we will see in different posts to better see the possibilities of Kdenlive in this regard.

Before starting to insert the texts we must know:

When we insert the text, it remains in edit mode to write the desired text; To be able to move it by dragging it with the mouse, we must exit edit mode by clicking on a space on the screen outside the line or lines of text. To return to the text editing mode (for a correction or to continue writing) we simply double click on it.

If we have created a text with a background and we want to move both at the same time to change their place or adjust them better, it is as simple as making a selection with the mouse that passes over the elements we want to move at the same time. When an item is selected it is framed with a faint red line.

Another way to select several elements is to select one of them and then with the shift key pressed, select the others by clicking on them with the mouse.

Create simple text with a semi-transparent background

In this case we will see a title that will indicate a location, but with this tool you can create texts and titles of all kinds, including subtitles if necessary.

  1. From the project folder we create a new title clip and the wizard opens.
  2. The first thing we do is check the show background box to see the item to be headlined to make sure that the title will look good and in the right place.
  3. We insert the text with the “Text” tool that is in the upper left corner and we place it anywhere on the screen (we will then place it in its final place).A 01.png
  4. Now we create a background rectangle with the tool that is next to the one to insert text and we give it an opacity of 128 which is ± 50% transparency. We place it in the desired place and we take it to the background using the layer stack controls that are in the upper right corner and we place the text on top of it. Let’s see this process broken down.
  5. Now that we have made the text we need and placed in the desired place with the reference frame as the background to create it in the project, we click “OK”.A 03.png
  6. We place this new text clip that we have created to the timeline on the clip to which we want to insert it.A 04.png
  7. And this is the final result.

    A 05.png
    Thanks to the fact that we have created this background rectangle, in semi-transparent black color, the white text is perfectly readable.

In this article we have seen the most basic of text insertion; In the following we will see more advanced aspects and animations to cover any need.


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