The 'Unofficial' iMovie FAQ

Text and titles are blurry in Quicktime

Last edited: 28 November, 2004
Author: Daniel Slagle

Problem: Computer Display

Solution: The QuickTime Pro-enabled QuickTime Player can be used to display a DV movie at High Quality. To do this, open the movie with QuickTime Player, and select Get Info in the Movie menu. In the Movie Info window, select Video Track in the left pop-up menu, and select High Quality in the right pop-up menu. Check the High Quality Enabled checkbox to view the movie at full quality.

Frame rate will decrease substantially with this setting. The movie can be saved with this setting and from then on, when the Movie is played back in any application, it will be played at High Quality.

iMovie is going to show you a preview on it's display. The "high quality" setting in iMovie may help, but your are still looking at a preview. You need to check your work in it's final delivery format to see how it will look to your viewing audience. It could look better, or it could look worse than it does in your non-linear editing environment (NLE). There isn't an NLE in the world that can show you what your video will look like in it's final form.

Unless you are going to deliver high resolution video on a fast computer, I'd suggest you use slightly larger fonts. I think I'd have trouble reading your text on my NTSC monitor. If you video is delivered in a lower resolution, that will also pose a problem. If you are doing computer only delivery, you can try de-interlacing the final movie. Although that makes the playback look a little less smooth, each frame tends to be sharper, in my opinion. Extended answer by:

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Still Not Happy?

by Karl Petersen

There is one other way to add great-looking titles to a movie. Instead of adding them with iMovie, add them to your QT movie AFTER you export it. Create the titles with Photoshop or some other graphics programs, then use QT Player Pro to add them to the movie. It lets you add each title as a new layer of the movie, displayed over the frames you want. Since the text image is never compressed, the titles look great.

To add a title displayed over a transparent stripe to certain frames of a movie:

  1. Create a new Photoshop file that's the same frame size as your movie. In the Contents area of the new-image dialog, choose Transparent.
    Add the title using Lucida Grande or Verdana, both simple fonts. The text can be any size and color.
  2. Add a new layer, then use the Gradient tool to drag a gradient across that layer.
  3. Move the gradient layer behind the title layer, then use the Marquee Tool to delete most of the gradient, leaving a bar displayed behind the title.
  4. Save the image.
  5. Import the image with QT Player Pro. (It opens in a new window.) Select All and Copy. Close the window.
  6. Open the movie that will receive the title.
  7. Select those frames where you want the title to appear.
  8. Choose Edit>Add Scaled. This Pastes the title image over the selected frames in a new video layer. Click in the movie window and scroll back a frame or two. The title will cover the movie; we'll fix that in a moment.
  9. Choose Movie>Get Movie Properties. In the left pop-up menu, choose the last-listed Video track.
  10. Then choose Graphics Mode in the right pop-up menu. Click on "premul white alpha". The movie should appear behind the title. It should have great clarity.
  • Note that if you resize the title file to a smaller frame size in Photoshop, you can use QT Player's Size command to drag the elsewhere in the movie frame.

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by Jerry Hofmann

There's something else that should be pointed out here. Computer displays are progressive scan, where non progessive video (like NTSC 29.97 or normal everyday video that most DV cameras shoot) is interlaced, so a computer display has a tough time with this, and will show jagged edges that really won't show up on a DVD player as much.

Also, there is a high quality playback setting that QT Pro can use and assign to QT movies for playback on computers that improves it's quality a lot... But judging the quality of a DV capture that's to be delivered on DVD or tape, should always be checked only on an external video monitor or TV set... not your computer's display. MPEG-2 will almost always show some blocky video on fade ups especially from DV sources, where say uncompressed 10 bit images will look better in the end when encoded to MPEG-2. HD codecs look even better when they are compressed to MPEG-2. DV is great in it's first generation, but by the 5th generation there is noticable signal loss. Not nearly as true of uncompressed SD or HD images for sure.

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