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The Keys to Smoother Credit Rolls (/w template)

How many times do you finish watching an indie movie and the credit roll at the end looks like someone is waving a black blanket under the text?

Probably quite often, right?

Well, you don’t have to be a Hollywood bigshot to get smooth rolls to your credits. All you need is Adobe After Effects, a couple pointers, and a simple expression that does most of the work for you.

I don’t claim to have the perfect way, but I have been using this method for years.

4) Font Choice

Use fonts that don’t have very fine details. Thick, bold choices such as Arial, Aktiv Grotesk, Helvetica, or Montserrat have never done me wrong. You can use serif fonts as well, but be sure to juggle between the ornament of the font vs. potential flicker.

3) Blur (may) not be the enemy

I know that this sounds scary, but it shouldn’t be. Something as simple as the “Reduce Interlace Flicker” effect in AE or switching over to “Smooth” Anti-Aliasing in Photoshop can make a nice difference.

2) Not Quite White (Text)

This may sound like either complete heresy or a cheat, but reducing the contrast between the background and the text can make a heck of a difference when scrolling text.   I generally use 85% white for font color on the text. You can dial it in for taste, but #d9d9d9 is a good starting point. If someone gives you a hard time about it, either they are focusing on the wrong thing or show them the difference once things get scrolling.

1) The Whole Pixel

After Effects can be a tricky little bugger. You may not know it, but if you set two position keyframes, After Effects incrementally interpolates the data in between. That means that as the user’s screen is refreshing, the credits are still rolling in between. This can cause a visible jitter.

One solution I found a few years ago on Creative Cow or AEnhancers was an expression that scrolls the text by whole pixels. Instead of any given position looking like this: 960 422.45, you would have 960 422. The result is arguably the best thing you can do for smoother credits.

rate = 2; //value in px/sec. value – [0,rate*timeToFrames(time)]

Occasionally, when delivering to networks, the length of the credits is already specified. To increase the speed of the roll, change “rate = 2” to a larger whole number.

I wish I remembered the original person for this expression so I could credit them. If anyone knows, please comment.

I’ve included a quick template that I use all the time. It has a .PSD that contains all the Credit Text and an .AEP for the After Effects Project File. No proprietary plugins are used.

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