Basics Lesson - How To Add Text Overlays

You did all the work, developed, scripted, shot and edited your movie. You uploaded it to the video site of choice only to find someone else pulled it and put it somewhere else without giving you credit for all your hard work. Well, there is a quick way to solve that problem; embed your name, company, website or email address into the video.

The easiest way to do this is to use your video editing program and include a text overlay. Once you have your video pieced together, many programs will allow you to add in titles or credits. In any program worth its code there will be an option to add some sort of subtitle to the bottom or top of the video as an overlay. The overlay is essentially a new layer that is placed over the video image stream. For this tutorial I chose to just have some text show throughout the entire video without animating it in any way.

What's the Benefit?

The most obvious benefit is credit for your work. If you include titles and credits in your video some unscrupulous individual may decide to capture your video and cut out the title and credits and maybe even attach their own. This removes any references to you in the video and they can then use it as they see fit, even taking credit for it themselves. It would not be the first time this has happened.

Another benefit is that, if your video is promoting a specific product you can include a website URL or contact information in the video that cannot be removed and so the video cannot be used to point to someone else's website with the same or a similar product.

Finally, it can help to drive sales. When the video is tagged with your information there is no way that someone can steal it without putting in a large amount of work. Though they could still take the video and chop off parts of it. So be sure to have your text either change position or show up in multiple places at different times.

How much is too much?

While you want to retain ownership of your creation you also do not want the text to interfere with the content of the video. So how much is too much? If the text detracts or distracts from the video content itself, it is too much. If it blocks or covers vital images it is again, too much.

My recommendation is to take a minimalist approach where less is better.

  • Show it on an upper or lower edge of the screen where it won't interfere.
  • Draw attention with a basic animation; zoom in/out, etc. Don't overdo it!
  • Show the text long enough for viewers to read it.
  • Contrast the text color with the background image. Make it stand out!
  • Only show necessary information. Company name, website URL, email address.

How to do it?

Undoubtedly you already have a video editing program available to you. Macs have iMovie while Windows comes with Movie Maker. These are the simplest of programs and yet they too can add text to your videos. The steps required in this process will vary by application. I will use Movie Maker for this tutorial.

  1. Start a new project. Import your video into the project or load your existing project if you have one pre-made.
  2. If you are starting a new project you may need to import the video into the storyboard for the movie.
  3. Under Tools in the menu bar at the top choose Titles and Credits…
  4. In the options given choose Add title on the selected clip in the timeline.
  5. Under More Options choose Change the Title Animation
  6. This gives you an options window with the top set of options being Titles, One Line from these options choose Subtitle which will overlay the text at the bottom of the video image.
  7. Again under More Options choose Edit the title text which will give you a text box where you can type your text. When you are satisfied with the text choose Done, add text to movie.
  8. Now that you have your basic text on your movie all you need to do is export your project to a movie file and you are all set to upload.

There are limitations to programs like iMovie and Movie Maker including the types of files they can import and export. Additionally they are not full-featured when it comes to other facets of video file editing. You would do better to simply use the program you edit your movie in to add titles and text to the movie or purchase a full-featured editor.

There are many programs that are specifically made to add text, titles, subtitles and credits to video files. The programs range from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars for fully featured professional systems. If you are looking for a low cost solution you need to decide what features you are looking for. Some low-cost options include honestech Video Editor ($39.99) and AVS Video Editor ($39.95). Other full-featured video editor packages come from Adobe, Ulead, Pinnacle and even Nero. During my research I ran across this review of ten editor packages in which all but one can add text to video. http://video-editing-software-review.toptenreviews.com/

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About the Author -
Mark Robertson is the Founder and Publisher of ReelSEO, an online information resource dedicated to the fusion of video, technology, social media, search, and internet marketing. He is a YouTube Certified, video marketing consultant and video marketing expert, popular speaker, and considered to be a passionate leader within the online video and search marketing industries. View All Posts By -

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