Monday, March 22, 2010

Playing with Text in Final Cut Pro

When I was still getting comfortable with the basics of Final Cut Pro, I didn't dare take the time to try to get creative or do much experimenting--it was hard enough trying to find all my clips and get them into the timeline in order.

I've gradually started playing around with various features. I think customizing the text is one of the easiest things you can do in FCP that really changes the feel of a video.

I wish I knew more about text design. I've never taken a typography class or really studied it on my own. I learned a bit about typefaces in the Visual Communication class I took at Portland Community College a couple years ago, and I recently watched Gary Hustwit's documentary Helvetica, which was really enlightening.

I've been aware for a long time that text has a significant impact in visual media, but there are so many options, I've always been a little overwhelmed by the idea of trying to do much with it.

As a teenager I was a big fan of Courier typeface, I think largely because I associated it with typewriters and DIY culture. I still have a fondness for it, but it's not appropriate everywhere.

It's hard not to love Helvetica. It's so modern and easy to read. But it's also EVERYWHERE.

In FCP the default font is Lucida Grand. It's a simple sans serif font and is quite readable, but something about it bothers me. It looks lifeless somehow: it's like Helvetica with less personality.

When I finally got around to using different fonts in FCP, I knew I wanted to make sure my text was easy to read, but I also wanted it to stand out a little. I didn't want something distracting, but I also wanted it to be a little more eye-catching than Lucida Grand, and less common than Helvetica.

After a little experimenting I settled on Stone Sans. I wanted a sans serif font that stood out a little. I think it's really easy on the eyes. It's very uniform and looks both bold and comforting at the same time.

According to, the Stone typeface family, designed by Sumner Stone "solves the problem of mixing different styles of type on the same page. Most combined type styles, because they aren’t designed to work together, often have radically different characteristics such as cap heights, stem weights, and proportions."

I guess I picked a good one to experiment with.

The more I look at it, however, the more I feel like I'm watching credits from a cartoon show. Maybe I've just been looking at it too long, or maybe it's time to try a different one.

Here, I use the Blogger default font Georgia in "small" size.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

i love Optima, even after learning it was the official font of the McCain campaign.