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How to Create a Text Box in Sony Vegas Movie Studio

Sony Vegas Movie Studio is an impressive piece of editing software that empowers its users to accomplish a wide range of tasks. Many of these tasks are automated by the program, and can be achieved with a few simple menu selections. That said, not everything you can accomplish with Vegas can be executed so easily. Creating text boxes is one such example.

Vegas is fully capable of creating a wide range of text effects for your videos, but not every video lends itself to subtitles. Quite often you may find the video of the current scene obscuring the words in your subtitles, resulting in an unattractive, jumbled look which your viewers can’t read. Text boxes can help you get around this problem by darkening the portion of the screen directly behind the text. Vegas doesn’t allow you to create text boxes, however, forcing a bit of improvisation. There are two ways to bypass this issue.

The 'Track Motion' button in Sony Movie Studio Platinum. This option allows you to move all objects around on a single track.
The 'Track Motion' button in Sony Movie Studio Platinum. This option allows you to move all objects around on a single track.

Method #1: Create text boxes in a separate program

The most straightforward (though not necessarily easiest) method for generating text boxes is to create them in a graphics program, such as Photoshop or GIMP. This can be as simple as creating a rectangular shape in your program and filling it with black (or whatever colour you might prefer). That done, simply drag the saved image onto your timeline and adjust its placement via the Track Motion button (pictured above). This will also allow you to create much fancier text boxes, as you can add borders.

Is this the best way to create text boxes? Probably not. It can be difficult and time-consuming to tell exactly how large a text box you might need for a given scene, and stretching a pre-made text box to a specific size may result in pixelization.

The menu options available when right-clicking in Sony Movie Studio Platinum. These options may differ in older versions of Sony Movie Studio.
The menu options available when right-clicking in Sony Movie Studio Platinum. These options may differ in older versions of Sony Movie Studio.

Method #2: Create text boxes from solid colours

The second method for creating text boxes can be achieved entirely within Vegas, and should take much less time to accomplish:

1.) Start by creating some sort of background. Generally speaking, this will be the video itself. You just want to make sure that you’re not working with a flat black background.

2.) Create your text. You can add text by right clicking on any Video Track and selecting ‘Insert Text Media’ from the bottom of the menu. Adjust your font, placement, and size as desired.

3.) Create another Video Track by right clicking and selecting ‘Create Video Track’. Drag this new Video Track to one slot above the Track that has your video footage. Then choose the ‘Media Generators’ tab, just above the timeline, and search for the ‘Solid Colour’ option in the scrolling menu on the far-left side of the screen.

4.) Choose a colour - in most cases this will be black, though you can use whatever colour you like for your text box - and drag it down to the Video Track you just created. This should eclipse your footage. Make sure the solid colour you’ve just created is beneath the text box on your timeline.

The 'Video Event FX' window. From here you can crop your video frames and choose which parts of a frame you want displayed.
The 'Video Event FX' window. From here you can crop your video frames and choose which parts of a frame you want displayed.

5.) Either right click the solid colour or click the small, blue box within it on the timeline to open the ‘Video Event Pan / Crop’ window. This screen allows you to manipulate how much of a given section of your video appears in the final product. Make sure you can see your text in the preview window on the right side of your screen, as you’ll need to use it to judge the size of your text box.

6.) On the right side of the ‘Video Event FX’ window, look for the ‘Source’ tab, and beneath it the ‘Maintain aspect ratio’ and ‘Stretch to fill frame’ tabs. Change both of these to ‘No’. (In some cases you may not have to choose ‘Stretch to fill frame’. I’m not sure exactly why this is. Can’t really hurt either way, so long as your Solid Colour is on a separate track from everything else.)

7.) Using the selectable box in the ‘Video Event FX’ window, adjust the size of your solid colour until it is neatly framing your text on the screen. Note that you can’t click and drag the box; you need to change its size via the guides in order to move it into place. Everything inside the box will appear on the screen, while everything outside the box will vanish. Close the window once you’re content with the results. You now have a text box.

8.) If you’re planning on using several text boxes of varying sizes, drag the Solid Colour along the timeline until it’s under every text box. Then Split the Colour to match the location of the text on the timeline. You can thereafter adjust each instance of Solid Colour to varying situations without messing with the original set of subtitles. If there are gaps in the video with no subtitles, Split the Solid Colour and delete the instances on the timeline where a text box is not needed.

The opacity slider for Solid Colours in Sony Movie Studio Platinum. This will allow you to adjust the transparency of your text boxes.
The opacity slider for Solid Colours in Sony Movie Studio Platinum. This will allow you to adjust the transparency of your text boxes.

9.) If you want translucent text boxes rather than the fully opaque variety you can further adjust your video by right clicking on your Solid Colour and choosing ‘Edit Generated Media’, or choosing the film clip icon set into the item on the timeline. Then click the arrow ‘Color’ on the menu that appears, scroll down, and adjust the opacity gauge (the right slider at the bottom of the menu) until your text box has the desired opacity.

It is worth noting as well that you can quickly apply any changes from one text box to another by using the ‘Copy’ command on the adjusted instance of Solid Colour, then right clicking and choosing ‘Paste Event Attributes’ on the second instance of Solid Colour. Be warned, however, as this will copy virtually every change you’ve made to the first text box onto the second.

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