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Text over dark backgrounds

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Brian TallantText over dark backgrounds
by on Jul 23, 2011 at 8:53:36 am

I'm using Movie Studio HD Platinum 11, and when I render text over dark-colored backgrounds I get strange results. First, I create some text in Photoshop, then I add it into a Vegas project over a solid color background (like black). When I create HD files (like 1280x720 or 1440x1080) the text looks as it should. But when I create 720x480 videos, the text suddenly looks blocky and jagged. This also happens when I use logos with transparent backgrounds.

I have made sure that my text file is sized to match the video settings, and I make sure that my project settings match the settings of the file I am trying to make. Yet, every time I try to do this process in HD it works, and anything in standard definition looks jagged.

What am I doing wrong?


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Mike KujbidaRe: Text over dark backgrounds
by on Jul 23, 2011 at 1:35:31 pm

Can you post a screenshot here?
I've done this several times and have never had any problems.


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Brian TallantRe: Text over dark backgrounds
by on Jul 23, 2011 at 7:37:52 pm

Here is a screen shot...the project settings are 720x480x32, 29.970i, and I rendered it as NTSC Widescreen Interlaced. Notice the "teeth", particularly on the "N".

The logo has been sized to fit the screen, and its dimensions are 720x116.

2660_screenshotntscwidescreeninterlaced.png.zip


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Mike KujbidaRe: Text over dark backgrounds
by on Jul 24, 2011 at 10:28:37 am

Your zipped file is asking for a password.
Just use the "Image Upload" feature available on here instead.


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Brian TallantRe: Text over dark backgrounds
by on Jul 24, 2011 at 3:01:15 pm

Sorry, here is the screen shot.

By the way, having done more research, I think it might not be a problem with the background color. It seems to be a problem with the color of the text. Some dark colors, like red, produce the "teeth" you see in this shot, and others don't.



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Mike KujbidaRe: Text over dark backgrounds
by on Jul 24, 2011 at 3:16:55 pm

The text colour is one problem.
The other is your choice of font.
Video does not like text with fine lines like in the font you've chosen.
The article (here on the Cow) called Great Titles with the DV Codec gives several excellent suggestions on how to get the best looking titles you can.


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Brian TallantRe: Text over dark backgrounds
by on Jul 24, 2011 at 4:58:17 pm

Thanks for taking the time to help me!

I took a look at the article you referenced. But there are a couple of things that may make this a different case than the one the author is describing.

First of all, the codec Vegas is using in this case is not DV, it's YUV.

Second of all, I was reading through the article and was noticing some of the things the author said don't work well with DV. One of them was fine-lined text, and another was white text on black background. However, I tried using a very fine-lined white text, and it looked great.

So maybe the YUV codec operates a little differently than DV in this regard?


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Mike KujbidaRe: Text over dark backgrounds
by on Jul 25, 2011 at 12:37:16 am

[Brian Tallant] "So maybe the YUV codec operates a little differently than DV in this regard?"

I've never used the YUV codec so that's quite possible.
The other points about not exceeding allowable colour limits still apply though and are probably a reason for the poor text quality.
The other problem is that the titler in Vegas is not a very good one as it doesn't anti-alias the text when it generates it.
What I find helps is to create the text at 2X my project resolution.
That is, if I'm in the NTSC DV realm, I'll make my text at 1440 x 960 instead of 720 x 480.
This does make it a bit smoother.
You do this by changing the numbers in the Frame size boxes in your generated media.
Hope this helps.


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Brian TallantRe: Text over dark backgrounds
by on Jul 25, 2011 at 1:15:39 am

Okay, here is what I have figured out:

When I try to render that red logo as NTSC interlaced, it looks toothy or stairstepped. When I render it as NTSC progressive, it looks much better (though not perfect).

When I render the logo in a light color (like white, or light yellow...anything light colored) it looks fine whether interlaced or progressive NTSC.

However, when I render the logo as an HD file, like 1280x720, it looks perfect in any color, interlaced or progressive.

So, what I have learned is that red really only works in progressive scan, and it works best as an HD file. Interlacing, especially in NTSC, does not handle the color red.

Since this video will be burned to a DVD and played on a closed-circuit hotel television station from a DVD player, I have no choice but to use interlaced NTSC...therefore I will have to pick another color for the logo.

Unless you have any other suggestions.


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Mike KujbidaRe: Text over dark backgrounds
by on Jul 25, 2011 at 3:45:12 am

[Brian Tallant] "Interlacing, especially in NTSC, does not handle the color red."

That is an unfortunate reality of the world of NTSC and the colour red :(
I can only offer two suggestions.
The first is not to put it over pure (0-0-0) black.
In the NTSC world, black is 16-16-16.
Try that and see if it makes any difference before trying my next suggestion.
The other is to raise the saturation so it's not a pure red.
Photoshop says it's 186-0-32.
Try 180-30-30 (or a slight variation thereof) and see if that helps.
It won't be quite as deep in colour but it should still look OK.
BTW, the red in the colour bar test pattern is 180-16-16.


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Brian TallantRe: Text over dark backgrounds
by on Jul 25, 2011 at 5:41:55 am

Well, it's just no good. I tried both of your suggestions and still the stairsteps are there. I'm just going to have to go with a light color. I'm certainly not stuck on red, although it is the official color of the university where that museum is located. I don't think they would have a problem with a different color.

However, all of this makes me realize even more that we need to upgrade our equipment to deliver HD video. Like I said in a previous post, when I render the files in HD the red color works just fine.


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Mike KujbidaRe: Text over dark backgrounds
by on Jul 25, 2011 at 10:50:51 am

Brian, the only other suggestion I can make is to use a thicker font as SD video doesn't handle fine lines very well.


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Mike KujbidaRe: Text over dark backgrounds
by on Jul 25, 2011 at 1:39:47 pm

I looked through my font collection and found the following similar fonts that are a bit thicker so they should stand up better.
Baskerville Old Face, Bell MT, Book Antiqua, Cambria, Centaur, Century, Century Schoolbook, Constantia, Garamond, Georgia, Goudy Old Style and Palatino Linotype.
To the best of my knowledge, they're all standard Windows TrueType fonts.


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Ted SnowRe: Text over dark backgrounds
by on Jul 31, 2011 at 7:19:11 pm

[Mike Kujbida] "What I find helps is to create the text at 2X my project resolution.
That is, if I'm in the NTSC DV realm, I'll make my text at 1440 x 960 instead of 720 x 480.
This does make it a bit smoother.
You do this by changing the numbers in the Frame size boxes in your generated media."


This is a great idea Mike. Makes a world of difference. Thanks for that tip...!

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Mike KujbidaRe: Text over dark backgrounds
by on Aug 1, 2011 at 12:21:30 am

[Ted Snow] "This is a great idea Mike. Makes a world of difference. Thanks for that tip...!"

You're welcome Ted.
I wish I could take credit for it but I got the tip from another user several years ago and have used it ever since.


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