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by Stacey Jenkins
In previous discussions with other video producers, one thing we all agreed upon was that while Final Cut Pro was an excellent video editing software program, it was lacking somewhat in its text (type) options. There simply weren't enough features and settings to produce professional-quality text. Final Cut Pro 4 has successfully overcome this deficiency with the introduction of its new text software program LiveType that comes bundled with the Final Cut Pro 4 software package. LiveType offers groundbreaking text effects, graphic backgrounds and animation fonts. Here's an overview of the software program and some of its key features that will have you creating text like a pro.

LiveType is made up of four work windows similar to Final Cut Pro 4. These windows are the Inspector window, the Canvas window, the Media Browser window and the Timeline window. The Inspector window is similar to the Final Cut Pro 4 viewer window in that it's where you create and manipulate your text. It's here that you type in your text and change the size, alignment, tracking and leading. You can also apply and adjust style features such as shadows, outline and glow. The Timing tab lets you adjust the length of your text clip (it will export as a movie file) and the Attributes tab offers a variety of text attributes such as color, opacity, rotation and scale. You also get a wireframe preview of your text displaying motion and size attributes that can save precious rendering time later on.

The Canvas window operates the same way as the canvas window in Final Cut Pro 4 in that it lets you view your created text being played in the timeline. The canvas window has limited playhead controls along the bottom and you can adjust the viewing size of the window through accessing the pop-up menu next to the playhead controls.

The Media Browser window stores the fonts, backgrounds and effects. The main reason the software is entitled LiveType is that it contains over 25 live animated fonts (LiveFonts) that are animated according to their title. A few examples are the 'Blueprint' LiveFont, in which the letters are "sketched" onto the screen, in a similar manner as a blueprint design. The 'Clay' LiveFont features hands creating letters out of Play Doh and the 'Sunflower' LiveFont displays letters "growing" as sunflowers. You must apply the LiveFonts to the timeline and render them before exporting your text clip. You must also install the separate data files that come with the LiveType DVD for all the LiveFonts to work, a step that can easily be overlooked and performed under the Tools menu. Along with Livefonts, the Media Browser window also features standard text fonts and separate effects to animate your fonts. Keep in mind that you cannot cross-apply features when using LiveFonts. The Textures tab offers a variety of motion and still backgrounds you can apply to standard and LiveFonts on separate Timeline tracks. The Objects tab lets you select a variety of futuristic motion backgrounds, such as Matrix, Bandwidth and Timecode backgrounds.

The Timeline window is set up the same way as in Final Cut Pro 4. It displays text clips, tracks and project tabs. You can drag your playhead to scrub through the timeline to view your text in slow motion or simply hit the space bar to play it in real time.

Before you export your text clip you need to render it. Choose File>Render Movie LiveType will ask you where you want to save the software's movie clip and name it. Click the Create a New Movie File button as LiveType will render and save your clip as a .mov file. A movie window will appear that lets you play through your rendered movie before quitting the software program.

Final Cut Pro 4 lets you import the movie though its File>Open commands. Simply choose the movie file and it will appear in the Final Cut browser window. When viewing your text clip in the viewer window you may have to adjust your in and out points, size and position of the text movie clip.

Although LiveType does not come with its own paper manual like the Final Cut Pro manual, the software program's Help menu features an Adobe Acrobat LiveType Guide that provides in-depth information and topics to help you along every step of the way. There's also a LiveType website you can access through the Acrobat help guide or the Apple website. The website features training program information and gives you a guided tutorial. Overall, the program is very user friendly and will have you creating animated text and looking like a pro in no time.

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