Final Cut Pro X: Create Scrolling Credits

by Larry Jordan

OK, let me say upfront that this should not be so hard. But it is. Final Cut Pro X provides a simple scrolling credits effect in the Titles browser. However, if your credits are more complex, or exist in a word processing document, life gets much harder.

Here’s what you need to know. This article was suggested by a reader; now I know why.


(Click to view larger image.)

Perhaps you’ve seen the Scrolling credits option in Final Cut Pro X. (Titles > Credits > Scrolling).

When you edit it to the timeline as a connected clip, then hover over it, a mostly-ugly formatted scrolling credits list appears.

We can open the Inspector, click the Text tab and add our own titles. Notice that as long as we don’t delete the tab between the first and second columns, the left column will align right, while the right column will align left.

We can then format the text using the Format options lower in the Text Inspector.

The speed of the scroll is determined by the duration of the text clip. Longer clips scroll more slowly.

All this is straight-forward. Where things go off the rails is if we want to change the distance between the two columns or add columns or just about any other modifications.

At which point, Final Cut Pro X gives up.


We have more formatting options if we use Motion. The problem is that, even though Motion has a ruler and tab stops, they don’t behave the way you expect.

Still, if you want to make your credits more interesting, here’s what you need to know.

Right-click, or Control-click the Scrolling title in the Titles Browser and choose Open a copy in Motion.

After a few seconds, Motion starts and a copy of the animated title appears.

As you can see, this title is simply a large text block with a Scroll Text behavior applied to it.

NOTE: You could, to give yourself more control, delete this behavior and replace it with keyframes or a Motion Path. But this behavior is not the problem here, formatting the text is.

As long as you change the text in the Viewer, or Inspector > Text > Format, the alignment remains. But, what happens if, as is usually the case, you have a long Word or Pages document with all your credits. Sigh… Chaos.

Unless you know the secret handshake. Watch.


Here in Text Edit, I’ve created a credits list. Here are the KEY points:

  • Make sure margins for ALL text are Flush Left (this is critical)
  • Remove all existing tab stops
  • Create a right tab marking the end of the left column, the precise position is not important
  • Create a left tab marking the start of the right column, again, position is not important
  • Leave any centered text flush left, you’ll center these in Motion
  • Don’t worry about formatting the text, you’ll do that in Motion as well.

Select all the text (Cmd+A) in the word processor.

Select the Title layer in the Layers panel in Motion, then paste the text into the Text field in the Inspector. (I’ve found this works more reliably than pasting text into the Viewer.)

Note when you do, the text and columns align properly in the Viewer.

BIG, BIG NOTE: Motion does NOT automatically save anything, unlike Final Cut Pro X. BE SURE to type Cmd+S frequently, to preserve your work.

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About James DeRuvo 801 Articles
Editor in Chief at doddleNEWS. James has been a writer and editor at doddleNEWS for nearly a decade. As a producer/director/writer James won a Telly Award in 2005 for his Short Film "Searching for Inspiration. James is a recovering talk show producer from KABC in Los Angeles, and a weekly guest on the Digital Production Buzz with Larry Jordan.

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