A picture’s worth a thousand words--but sometimes, your home movie or photo slideshows can benefit from just a bit more. That’s where titles, captions and credits come in. Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 allows you to add these textual elements in a snap. You can even give them a professional look and feel by tweaking the font and style and adding cinematic effects. In this tutorial, we’ll teach you the differences between titles, captions and credits and when to use each of these.
Here are the definitions for each in a nutshell:
- Titles are standalone clips meant to precede your movie.
- Credits are standalone clips meant to follow your movie.
- Captions are text areas that are superimposed on top of clips or photos.
Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 provides buttons for each of these but, in practice, Titles and Credits clips behave exactly the same, once you move them around on the timeline. You’ll see what I mean once we dive into the details.
Adding Titles Clips in Windows Movie Maker 2011
All the text clip buttons are tucked away in the Home ribbon to the right of the Snapshot button. The first one is the add Title button. Click it and Windows Live Movie Maker will insert a new Title clip at the very beginning of your movie.
As soon as you add a Title clip, you’ll be taken to the Format tab.
The first thing you’ll want to do here is change the default text from “My Movie" to something more meaningful to you. If the text isn’t already selected, click it in the Preview window.
In the Format tab, you can format the text as you see fit. If you’ve ever used Word, this should be familiar to you. You can see your changes in the preview window below.
As you’ll notice from the screenshot, I’ve also changed the background color. To do this, click the Paint bucket and choose a color. This can only be done with Title and Credit clips.
You can also change the Transparency by moving the slider. This will be more useful for Captions, which we’ll talk about next.
But before we move on, let’s take a look at changing the duration of the Title clip. This can be a little bit confusing, because there are two durations to deal with: the Video duration and the Text duration.
The Video duration refers to the time that the entire clip is displayed. To change this, you have to first click the Edit tab beneath Video tools. Here, you can specify how long the entire Title clip will be.
The Text duration and start time changes how long the text will appear on the title clip. Normally, the Text duration is equal to or less than the Title/Video clip. If the duration is shorter than the Video duration, then the text will fade away before the Title clip disappears and transitions to the next clip in your timeline.
You can also bump the start time forward, so that the text appears shortly after the Title clip is displayed.
An easier way to alter the start time is to simply drag and drop the text element on the timeline.
Note that the text item is independent of the Title clip - you can move it to another clip, or have it overlap and spill over to another clip.
Adding Captions in Windows Live Movie Maker
Captions are text elements without a dedicated clip or colored background. Instead, they are applied to existing photos or video clips. The add Caption is on the Home ribbon, just below the Title button.
Clicking the Caption button will insert a text element wherever the playhead is.
You can edit, format and position your caption just like you did with the text element that was associated with the Title clip.
You can’t, however, set a background color for Captions. That’s because the background of the caption will always be the photo or video clip beneath it.
Adding Credits in Windows Live Movie Maker
The last button in our set is the add Credits button.
Once your Credits clip is on the timeline, it functions exactly the same as a Title clip. The Credits button, however, differs from the Title clip button in that it adds the Credits clip at the very end of your movie and automatically adds preceding text for “Credits," “Director," “Starring," or “Location" based on which option you choose after you click the arrow next to the button.
For example, when you choose Credits, it creates a text element with the word “CREDITS" and a space for you to enter names.
Or, if you choose Director, it inserts “DIRECTED BY" and leaves an area for you to enter your own name.
This text behaves no differently than it would if you would have simply typed it yourself.
Working with Text Effects
Text effects can be applied to Titles, Captions and Credits. Simply select the text element on your timeline and choose an Effect from the gallery in the right-hand section of the Format tab under Text Tools.
There are 24 different text effects, from the classic Scroll to the more ornate Cinematic style.
Note that if you choose a Text effect where the text fades in, flies in or is otherwise not visible at the very beginning of the animation, you won’t be able to see it when your playhead is right at the beginning of the text element. This isn’t a bug--simply advance your playhead to see the text, just as it will appear in that point of time in your movie.
You can still edit the text at any point in the timeline, however, and the changes will apply to the entire text element.
Tips and Limitations
While adding Captions, Credits and Titles in Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 is incredibly easy, the feature is somewhat limited. For one, you cannot have more than one text element at any given point in the timeline. This means that you can’t have different two or more text styles in any clip. For example, if you wanted the word “Credits" to appear in bold, but the rest of the text to be in italics or normal font weight, this simply isn’t possible. Also, if you wanted a caption on top of a Credit or Title screen, this is likewise not possible.
On the plus side, you can add as many Title or Credits clips as you want. You can also move them around to anywhere you want in the timeline, including in the middle of your movie. In this way, you can use them to divide sections in your movie.
Also note that you can add transitions from the Animations tab to Title clips, just like you would with normal video clips.
For more information on adding Animations and Visual effects, check out our earlier tutorial: How to Add Animations and Visual Effects in Windows Live Movie Maker 2011.
As you can see, adding a bit of explanatory text to any point in your movie is incredibly easy with Windows Live Movie Maker 2011. While you won’t be able to create advanced call-outs - such as speech bubbles, drawings or text boxes - nor can you include multiple text elements on the same clip, you can add text effects and transitions to them to give them a more professional look and feel. For more tips on jazzing up your photo slideshows and home movies with Windows Live Movie Maker 2011, check out some of our related articles.