Thursday, June 16, 2011

GSoC11 - Simple Title Cards

When putting together brief animation tests and/or feature demonstrations, it's often necessary to be able to include some brief clips/slides which simply show some text. For example, a title card showing summary info such as a short title and author, or perhaps section headings to guide the narrative (e.g. "before applying our amazing new technology" vs "here is what our stuff can do").

Today I present an experimental feature for doing so. Cue video...

Title Cards Demo from Joshua Leung on Vimeo.
As you've seen from the video, I've been working on an experimental feature which makes it easy to set up titles like this to be included in video clips you're editing in Blender's Sequence Editor.

Why is this necessary?
Well, as I found out earlier when preparing my demo videos for last year's GSoC and earlier this year with my animation tests is that the process of creating such titles can get quite involved.

Sure, some may say that it's possible or even "easy" to fire up an image editor and just use the text tool there to create an image to use as a title card. However, this has the disadvantage that you'll likely have to recreate that image again if you decide to change the text or even the resolution of your project, as well as other issues related to the choice and operation of image editor (i.e. text positioning, font selection, image size selection, and loading times being the primary culprits).

To alleviate some of these problems, we might instead fire up Blender, set up some font objects, materials, and camera, and render these off (this is what I've been doing). However, you still have that problem of needing to render these out to an image, or else, perhaps chuck that scene into the same file as the sequence edit and link it in as a Scene strip and have that slowly chugging away everytime you need it. Sure, for more sophisticated title cards where you want some motion effects or even artistic control over the layout and visuals this is necessary. But IMO, it's overkill when we just want a screen with a single line of text on it, especially with more than one of these. Then again, I'm not ruling out the possibility that perhaps an addon/tool which sets up such scenes wouldn't be useful either...

So, what can this do?
Currently, you can set two lines of text - a main heading drawn with a larger font, and a sub-heading drawn with a smaller font. These are centered.

You can also set the a plain/solid background colour and text colour (used for both currently).

This should be enough for most simple uses, where it only matters to have the content there. If you need anything more fancy, you'll probably want/end up controlling a lot more of the result, so the manual setup methods will still serve you fine.

Stuff that I'm considering adding
  • Ability to have a second subtitle row (e.g. perhaps for author/contact details, if the subtitle is used for a real subtitle)
  • Footer text field, which runs across the bottom from the bottom left corner
  • Separate colours for title and subtitle texts. Currently both use the same.
Stuff which I'm not currently considering (due to technical difficulties/other priorities)
  • Ability to specify fonts used - this currently uses Blender's font drawing API, which I'm not that familiar with yet. Dealing with fonts in this way is murky territory...
  • Custom formatting of texts - see previous. As soon as you start getting into this kind of complexity, you're really better off using some dedicated tools for this sort of thing. This tool is really more about letting devs/animators (and even modellers) have a quick way of prefixing their video clips with text info.
Where can you find this?
Pending some final checks, I'm looking at committing this to my GSoC branch (pepper) later today

1 comment:

  1. Ability to move scale and position the text would be great ;-)