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October 3, 2006 3:33 PM   Subscribe

Making text a specific number of NTSC scanlines high in Final Cut Pro 5.1.

I feel like there has to be an easier way of doing this.

Right now my method is to either:

A) Sit there with a piece of paper and count them on a broadcast monitor.

B) Divide 525 scanlines / 720 pixels, getting 0.729166666667 pixels per scan line, then multiply by the number of scanlines I need (22), resulting in how many pixels tall the text should be. Then screenshotting the canvas at 100% and counting pixels in Photoshop (does this method even work?).

Is there some sort of website that converts font face/point size to NTSC scan lines?

Am I missing something? Did they teach this in editor school? Should I have gone to editor school? Why does anyone even hire me if I don't know this sort of thing? Does filmgeek have the answer?

posted by nathancaswell to Media & Arts (9 answers total)
Response by poster: Well obviously option B won't work cause it's 720px wide, not tall.
posted by nathancaswell at 3:35 PM on October 3, 2006

Response by poster: Or am I crazy and it's a 1:1 relationship?
posted by nathancaswell at 3:51 PM on October 3, 2006

i think my question is *why*? did someone specifically give you instructions to make the height equivalent to x scanlines?

that's just crazytalk.
posted by still at 6:41 PM on October 3, 2006

They did not teach this in filmschool.

When you put legalese on a screen, part of the law stipulates that it must be so many scanlines high.

The problem is, most fonts are not an exact number of pixels high (It should be x point = x pixels, but font makers take liberties)

I'm assuming you're working in DV, which is 480 scanlines...well, not really. All NTSC is 525 scanlines, but DV only uses 480 of them (486 in full 601 D1).

So, our solution tonight will be....Photoshop.

Photoshop CS (and CS2) will let you create a correct pixel aspect ratio (which I'm avoiding) document at either full 601 or DV sizes.

You can try pixels in photoshop rather than points (for font sizing)...but most important....photoshop has a ruler that permits the sizing of your text to be measured. Use the nonsquare sizes, not the square equivalents.
posted by filmgeek at 9:15 PM on October 3, 2006

"When you put legalese on a screen, part of the law stipulates that it must be so many scanlines high."

that's really interesting. thanks.
posted by still at 9:21 PM on October 3, 2006

First off, if you're using NTSC, as nathancaswell points out, your vertical resolution is 480 digital, not 720. 720x480 is D1 resolution, the same used for DVD-Video. 720x480 has an aspect ratio of 1:1.5 which is compressed (for 4:3) or expanded (for 16:9) during playback. You also only have about 480 "visible" scanlines (some of which are cut off by older televisions, but that's not relevant here...) - the rest are used for CC and some other things.

You could:
  1. Figure 22 text scan lines / 480 visible lines = .0419 or 4.6% of the NTSC total
  2. Size the text at 4.6% of a 640x480 document (22 pixels)
  3. In Photoshop, create a 640x480 document
  4. Draw a box 22px high with the Marquee or Shape tool. (Zoom in real close, or create a document 22px high and copy a layer from that, or use the ruler...just make sure it's 22px high.)
  5. Write some text on a layer, and free-transform (Command-T) the text layer to be the height of the box (it will size the font point size to match the transformation. I got 4.82pt for Arial). Hold Shift while you drag the corners so the aspect ratio of the text does not change.
  6. Resize the image from 640x480 to 720x480 to get the 1:1.5 aspect ratio required by DV (which is recompressed to 1:1.33 used in SD broadcast television)
  7. Save it off as a PNG (or PSD, or whatever) and import into FCP, use as a title.
Don't bother using nonsquare pixels... Just do a bicubic resize from 640x480 to 720x480 in Photoshop to "fatten" your image before you export it to be used in the NLE of your choice ;-) (If you were using widescreen, you'd design your screen in 853x480 then resize to 720x480 for a widescreen DVD menu or video.)
posted by ostranenie at 5:40 AM on October 4, 2006

Well, duh. I just realized that if my math is right, 22 scanlines = 22 pixels
posted by ostranenie at 5:43 AM on October 4, 2006

Response by poster: So if pixels/scanlines is 1:1 there's no reason not to make a 22px high "ruler" in Photoshop and bring it into FCP if I wanted to use FCP's crappy text tool.

That's what I always figured, but 22 pixels looks ENORMOUS.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:22 AM on October 4, 2006

Is FCP resizing it possibly? It should only be ~5% of the total height... Can you maybe get an example from a legal expert?
posted by ostranenie at 5:14 PM on October 4, 2006

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