Titles and Texts in Kdenlive. Chapter 4: Animating Texts and Backgrounds Part 1


A very interesting part for our videos is the possibility of animating the titles and their backgrounds to give our projects more visual richness.

Kdenlive in this sense is a very complete tool and the animation and decoration of texts and their backgrounds is done with the same effects that are used for video.

It is true that the assistant has an animation section, but this is very limited and is designed for texts that exceed the limits of the screen and its use was seen in chapter 2 of this series with the creation of credits and scrolls. Beyond this purpose, I do not see a practical application for making more advanced animations.

There are so many effects that we have for this purpose and their possibilities that in order to cover a brushstroke of them I have decided to divide this section into two chapters.

Useful effects to animate texts in kdenlive

Next I am going to list the effects that have the possibility of animating that I have found useful for the animation and decoration of texts and their backgrounds.

Effects are added to the inserted title clip on the timeline exactly as if it were a video clip.

Indicate that any video effect can be applied to a text clip even if it cannot be animated.In this list that I expose below I focus only on those that can be animated, since the objective of the entry is the animation of texts or animated decorations, but to emphasize that to decorate in a static way we can use all the video effects that Kdenlive has.

* Both effects are used to make the texts appear or disappear. Its ideal use is with a black or colored background inserted from the title clip itself, it is not very suitable for texts with the video or background image. We will see an example in this post so that its use is better understood. More than animation, they are animated decoration effects.

    • Shift tone: It is used to change the color of the text and its background if it is used.
    • Saturation: Enhances the color of the text by saturation.
    • Dye: Like the previous ones, it is used to modify the color, in this case by defined black and white maps.
    • RGB setting: Like the previous ones in the color family, it is used to change the color of the text and its background if it is there.
    • Brightness (animatable): It does what its name says.
    • Spectrum: It is used to change the Gamma intensity of the video in an animated way.
    • Levels: Complete animatable tool to vary the colors of the text and its background by manipulating the input and output levels.
    • PDP / Sat: Similar to the level.

* The two color families that we have seen are used to change the color and, as it can be animated, this change serves to decorate or enhance the texts throughout the reproduction time with the manipulation of color. They are useful on any combination of tracks, with any background, video or image.

    • Square blur: It is used to make the texts appear or disappear by blurring.
    • Box blur: Similar to the previous one.
    • Lens correction: It serves to bulge the texts.
    • Distort: From two parameters, amplitude and frequency, we can make a meandering effect (sine wave) of the text and its background.
    • Corners: We have 4 points located at the limits of the screen, in the four corners, that we can move to cause the distortion of the texts. It is very practical to use directly from the monitor and, if it is used with a video or background image, the transparent background should be activated with the operation of the alpha channel with the “minimum” value.
    • Pixelate: It is used to make the texts appear or disappear by pixelation.

* These effects that we have seen so far more than animation of the titles are really animated decorations for the most part, except for the blur and pixelated ones that serve to make the titles and their backgrounds appear or fade (although they can be used as an element decorative).

* These effects also work well in any situation and track combination.

    • Position and zoom: As its name indicates, it serves to move and scale the titles.
    • Rotate (animatable): As its name indicates, it serves to rotate.
    • Transform: Very good effect to animate the texts. It is essential to fade them, since it has the opacity parameter.

* They work well with any background, situation or combination of tracks, be it video or image.

* The fade-in and fade-out effects only work well with a black background, so to make the texts appear or dissolve by fade on a video or image, the most suitable effect is that of transform, although we can also use it for this purpose of the blur and pixelated ones. I will make an example with the pixelated one so that it is better understood.

    • Rotoscopy: This effect is very useful to make texts appear or disappear in a linear way. Its use is so varied that I am going to dedicate an entry to see how it works and its possibilities. As a preview of how it works you can see the entry “Draw a route or animated circular line”.

Examples of animation of titles in Kdenlive

Next I will do some basic practical examples of text animation.

Practice 1. Animated text without using any effect

What a contradiction, but the objective of this practice is to understand that animating is a process more of imagination than of effects.

What I will do, with the technique that I am going to explain next, is to make a phrase that will appear by words.

The phrase that I am going to use is the following “This phrase will appear by words” is a phrase that contains 5 words and to make this animation we will do it as follows.

  1. We create a title clip, write the full text and place it in the desired place. In this example I am going to place it right in the center of the screen with the centering tools.01.pngI assign it a duration of 3 seconds.03.png
  2. Now we save the title clip and name it in the project folder as 05 (this from 05 is a custom to use two digits because this way I can order 99 items numerically). Renaming is as simple as double-clicking on the name of the title clip in the project folder. And numbering it as 5 is because we need 5 clips to make the animation and this clip is the end.

    Clip 05

  3. Now in the project folder we duplicate this clip (right click on the clip and choose the duplicate clip option). We name it 04 and enter the edit mode, either by double clicking on the preview in the project folder or with the right button on the clip and choosing “Edit clip”
  4. Now we simply do two actions:
    1. We erase the last word of the phrase, be careful not to move, we simply double-click the phrase to enter its edit mode and erase the last word
    2. and we put the duration of this clip in 12 frames.02.pngWe save and we already have clip 4, which we have named 04.

      Clip 04

  5. Now we duplicate clip 04 and rename it 03; We enter its editing mode and we only delete the last word (in this case it is the penultimate of the phrase), the duration is equal to 12 frames.

    Clip 03

  6. We repeat step 5 (duplicating and naming) we were missing 02 and 01 and deleting the word that remains at the end.
    Clip 02

    Clip 01

  7. Now we have 5 title clips numbered from 01 to 05 and this number corresponds to the words that each clip has, from 01 to 04 they have a duration of 12 frames and the last one (05) with 3 seconds, which we have assigned to the beginning.04.png
  8. We place the clips on the timeline in numerical order.05.png
  9. Now we only have to play to see the animation we just created.

    Gif that emulates the result, the end has been shortened to 1.5 seconds.

  10. Now we will do a variation on this same exercise. This consists of centering in each clip, of the 5 resulting ones, the text right in the center of the screen. We enter each of them and we are centering the text01.png and we will obtain the following result.

    Gif that emulates the result, the end has been shortened to 1.5 seconds.

We have just seen a simple manual animation that in many cases can be useful to us and that makes us see that, without using more than ingenuity, we can animate our texts.

I have made this animation on a black background but we can use it on a video or image track.

Practice 2. Animation with the vignette effect

The objective of this animation is to show a brushstroke of what this effect offers us to animate our texts.

Remember as I said in your presentation that this effect is best used on a black background and, if a background is desired, it has to be inserted in the title clip itself. In this case I use 4 different colored rectangles to give it a colorful touch and a phrase that is the following ‘Sample text to see the use of the “Vignette effect”‘, the phrase will be centered in the center of the screen, at same as in the previous example.

  1. We build the title clip with the wizard. As I have just mentioned, with 4 background rectangles of different color and with rotations (in this case only in the “Z” axis) to break the symmetry a bit and the text in the center with a quite marked black shadow (so that white text is best read over light colors like yellow, for example). I put a duration of 7 seconds.06_effect
  2. Now we insert this clip to the timeline and we insert the effect “Vignette effect” and we put the values ​​as seen in the following image07.pngThe radius and the offset in “X” to 0; I do not move the “Y” axis since the text is in the center, in case of being in another part of the screen I can manipulate this axis so that the center of the effect is on the text. I also turn on cosine to make the edge gradient more compact. In this way we only have a black screen.
  3. I activate the clock to open the animation parameters and create the necessary keys for the animation, remaining as seen in the image08Detail of the last keyframe that was not seen in the previous image, where I have set the value of the radius to 0 to output the clip.09.png
  4. Below we see a gif with an emulation of the result.

    The time it is statically visible has been reduced

Practice 3. Using the “Transform” effect

Now I am going to make the animation of a phrase that will enter quickly from the right of the frame, it will crash at the left limit to place itself in the place where I want it.

To make this type of animation (where we really already animate the text) the best effect we have is that of “Transform”.

In this case I will use the black background by default, but animations with this effect can be done perfectly on video or image.

  1. We create a title clip with the phrase we need; In this example I am going to use the following “Animation example with the Transform effect” and we give it a duration of 6 seconds. We insert the clip to the timeline.10.pngThis is the title clip that I created, just the text phrase and transparent background, which results in a black background because there is no video clip or image underneath.
  2. We insert the “Transform” effect; We deactivate the aspect lock to be able to scale the values ​​individually and we activate the distort option so that the text is distorted with the scale.11.png
  3. In the first frame the text will be off the screen on the left side so we raise the value of the “x” axis until the text is off the screen. In this case I have put a value in x of 1730
  4. Now I advance 6 frames, which is how long the text input lasts until it hits the edge on the left, and I add a key.
  5. In this key, as the text comes fast, I stretch it with the scale giving it a value of 2500 and putting the x-axis in the value of -263 leaving the text stretched and just in the limit of the left.12.png13.png
  6. Now we advance 2 frames and insert another key; In this one, what we do is scale the text by compacting it to the left due to the crash. To achieve this effect, what I do is lower the width value so that the text is compacted and raise the height value so that it has the effect of collapsing by expanding; when scaling I have to make corrections in the x and y axes so that the text stays where I want it14.png15.png
  7. Now I do what in animation is called “stretch” which is a stretch of the animation, to exaggerate it. One final move before the bounce, in this case I advance 8 frames from the last key and insert a new key and further reduce the width and increase the height, making the corrections in the x and y axes.16.png17.png
  8. Now comes the bounce, I advance 4 frames from the last key and insert a new key and adjust the values ​​to simulate a stretch.18.png19.png
  9. Now we create a reverse rebound effect; we add 6 frames to the last key and insert another. And we adjust the values ​​to simulate a new shrinkage.20.png21.png
  10. We can repeat this bounce as many times as we want, always lengthening the number of frames a little between one key and the other. I’m going to make a new bounce 10 frames from the other and, in the next shrink, the text will stay where I want it. In fact this time the text is already detached from the left edge.22.png23.png
  11. Now we create a new key 5 frames from the previous one and place the text in its original location, setting the values ​​of the “x and y” axes and the scale values ​​to their default value. To restore the default values, it is as simple as clicking the right button on the name of the box and choosing the corresponding option.25.pngThe effect looks like this:26.png
  12. And to finish I insert a key halfway between the last and the end, slightly animating the value of x, to a value of 25 and another at the end and I put the value of x at 10 (this is so that the text continues with a slight movement ).27.png
  13. Now I attach a gif to show the result.Exer_3.gif

The animations are laborious and you have to test the speeds with the keyframe distances (and they don’t always go the first time). It is easy, once finished, to be able to move the frames in the effect in case we can improve it. In this case, I have made a second version slowing down the entire initial process, without changing the values ​​and stretching the keys a bit, remaining as seen in the following images; the first corresponds to the version made and the second to the modified one.

First version
Second version

Moving the keys is as simple as dragging them with the mouse directly on the effect or from the timeline, always with the corresponding clip and effect selected.

Detail to move the keys from the effect.
Detail to move the keys from the clip in the timeline

In this second version, the stretch at the beginning is more marked by slowing it down a bit and the placement of the phrase is softer. Animation is an art that has rules but also lends itself to the taste of each filmmaker.

Gif of the second version.Exercise_3_2_2.gif

Take this opportunity to remember that the effect par excellence to animate texts is precisely that of Transform and it is essential to make input and output of text by fade when it is on a video or an image or a color other than black.

Practice 4. Text that appears and disappears with the “Pixelize” effect

This effect along with the color, blur and distort are very easy to use, so I will simply do a brief practice and if you have any questions with any other effect (which for whatever reason you do not know very well how to apply it), just do it. You have to indicate on the blog and I will do some practice with it.

  1. I have created a title clip with the text “This text will appear and disappear with the pixelize effect” that lasts 4 seconds.
  2. Once the title clip has been inserted into the time we insert the effect of pixelization.
  3. We set the initial value of the effect to 100 in both fields.30.png
  4. We activate the clock and set the frame to one second from the first and the values ​​of both fields to 031
  5. We insert another key and put it in the second 3 and leave it with the values ​​of the previous one, that is, 0 in both fields.
  6. We insert a new key at the end of the clip and in this we put the value of both fields to 100 to produce the fading.32.png
  7. Here is a gif with the result of this practice.Exer_4

In the next post we will carry out some practices of animation of titles with animated backgrounds and a combination of various effects.

Download files with practices by clicking here.


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