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Tips, tutorials & inspiration for making slideshows

How To Use a Text Layer as a Mask in ProShow Producer 6

One of my favorite new creative features in ProShow Producer 6 is text layers. Any caption in your slideshow can now be converted into a text layer, thereby unlocking new abilities previously limited to photos & videos, including the use of advanced effects like 3D tilt motion, blur and masking. (Learn what Text Layers are and how to use them in this article.)

Moving beyond the basics, this how-to shows you a really powerful, practical and cool application for text layers, that you can easily create and adapt an infinite number of ways based on your personal style and type of show you’re making. Let’s begin.

Create a “Moving Word Reveal Effect”with Text Layers

Set up the basic effect

  1. Start by creating a new slide containing any photo or video clip you want. You can also work with an existing slide if you’d like.
  2. Set the slide time to 1.0 seconds. In our example, the transitions are 3.0 seconds.
  3. Double-click to open up the Slide Options dialog for the slide.
  4. Set the photo layer to Fill Frame to make the image completely fill the screen (under Layer Settings > Scaling > Fill Frame) -or- (Use KB Shortcut -> Ctrl + Alt + 1)
    Set the photo layer to Fill Frame.
  5. Click the (+) button in the left-hand column by Captions to add a new caption — type any word you’d like. It’s best for this example to choose a simple word or company name that is not super long or has a bunch of spaces in it. Some examples of suitable words: “style” / “travel” / “family”, “amazing”,”passion,” etc.
  6. Set the caption formatting to your liking (font / size / color / alignment / position). For this example, I’ve chosen the popular Mission Script font, 140pt, white, center aligned, and I just sort of eye-balled the position, using the composition lines as a guide so it looks centered (since this particular font happens to not be quite vertically centered).
    Set your caption formatting.
  7. Convert the caption to a layer > Right-click on the caption and select ‘Convert To Layer’
    Convert your caption to a layer.
  8. You will notice that your caption is no longer in the Caption section. It’s now located in the Layers section of the left-hand column of the Slide Options dialog.
  9. Now, let’s set the timing and motion. With the text layer still selected as the active layer, click on the Effects tab. In the keyframe timeline, make sure that the markers for KF1 and KF2 are moved to the farthest, opposite ends of the timeline. (This is just to ensure that the effect spans the full length of the slide plus its incoming and ending transitions. If you prefer, you can always make the effect end before the slide).
    Add timing and motion to your layer.
  10. Click on keyframe 1 and drag the text layer in the preview area to the left so it’s just outside of the visible area of the screen and you can’t see the text anymore. (Tip: If you hold down the Shift key while dragging, it will temporarily lock the vertical position while you drag, keeping the pan Y position the same as before – same as Photoshop).
    Arrange the text layer on your slide.
  11. Note: If your Pan settings currently are set to ‘Smooth’, click on the blue hyperlink and change it to Linear (this will make your left to right pan motion move at an even, consistent speed).
    Change your pan settings to Linear.
  12. Click on keyframe 2 and repeat the same drag step except this time, move to the right instead. Be sure to move the text layer slightly off-screen as before.
    Repeat the steps but move to the right instead.
  13. Review your progress so far by clicking on the Play preview button in Slide Options. You should see your text layer scroll in front of the image from left to right.
    Hit play to review your progress.
  14. This next step is where the magic of the effect happens. Right-click on the text layer and select ‘Use as Masking Layer’. Once masking is turned on, the text layer will serve as a ‘container’ for the image below it, so you will see the image, but only in the area where the text layer is. (Not sure how masking works? Get tutorials & videos here).
    Turn your text layer into a mask.
  15.  Click the Play Preview button again to see the change that masking made to the moving text effect. The result is that the text reveals new parts of the hidden photo as it moves across the screen, now creating a sense of intrigue, mystery and drama.

Creative Variations of This Effect
As you might imagine, this basic effect can be adapted in so many ways – watch the video below to see the basic effect in action, along with some variations to get your creative juices flowing.

Ways to use this effect in your slideshows:

  • Use it for your main title slide or a really bold caption (add a subheading or additional text if you want)
  • As slick divider slides in shows with distinct sections of content (e.g. ceremony / reception / etc.)
  • Word montages (chain 3-5 single-word slides together in succession) —perfect for commercials, presentations or any show intro. It’s a bold, visual way to showcase a set of values (e.g. passion, precision, craft!). Also works well for displaying a series of events, place names, or features. I guarantee, it’s much more engaging than just writing the same words in dull bullet point format.

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As the head of the Creative team at Photodex, Leslie is involved in the design & production of ProShow demos, slideshows & special effects. She is a self-professed Crazy Cat Lady who is into horror movies, music, good food, and riding her bike around Austin.