Tempting Text

Around 1920, the great Russian filmmaker Lev Kuleshov took a close-up of an actor with a completely neutral expression on his face and intercut it with three different shots: a bowl of soup, a woman in a coffin, and a little girl playing. An audience praised the actor for his wonderful, subtle acting. The look of hunger! The grief for his dead wife! The love for his daughter! Out of nothing, Kuleshov was able to bring meaning and emotion to a random series of shots. As Kuleshov showed, it's the little things that can make your movies more exciting and better received. Titles are one such trick that can do the job.

Adding scintillating titles to your movie not only makes it look more professional but also makes your role as over-the-shoulder narrator obsolete. iMovie has some nice options where text is concerned, but there are limits to its precision. If you're going to achieve perfect titles, you need exact control -- and that's what these programs deliver.

The word processor-like controls in VideoShop's Titling window let you select specific fonts and sizes, and apply bold, italic, or underlined typefaces. Creating end-of-movie scrolling credits is a snap, and there's also drop-shadow control for titles.

Premiere's Title window is stronger still, but it feels a little removed from the rest of the program. You can adjust the spacing of your text with leading and kerning controls, and there are tools for drawing framing shapes for your text. While creating scrolling credits isn't quite as straightforward as in VideoShop, you can "ease" into and out of the scrolling movement, creating natural-feeling starts and stops.

EditDV's text features are also solid, and its implementation is the best of all, letting you click and type right in the Monitor window. The Titling box also has several presets that you can apply as filters; this is as close as any of these programs comes to iMovie's nifty, animated title styles.

In the end, EditDV's text controls make it easy for you to give credit where credit is due.

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