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Working with Alpha Channels in Avid

In Avid Xpress DV or Avid Xpress Pro, Working with Alpha Channels is a tricky process for those who are unfamiliar with the Avid interface. This training tutorial walks you through the basic steps for replacing the fill for any title or graphic that contains an alpha channel.

This tutorial assumes you are familiar with some of the basic editing functions of Avid Xpress DV – Pro. To keep things simple, lets start by creating a large title in the Avid Title tool. Use a large font size of 96 or higher. For this example, use the Arial font style.

Since we are going to replace the fill color, there is no need to give the title a color or drop shadow. When you are finished save the title to a bin, and edit it onto V2.


The Avid timeline should look like this with your title placed on Video 2, and your background video placed on Video 1.


Next, find a clip that you would like to place inside the fill area of the title. In this case, we will use a generic clip of a red siren. The key is to pick a video clip that has some motion and texture to it.|


Now, here is the tricky part. You need to display the alpha and fill channels separately within the title, so the fill can be replaced. Activate the red segment arrow at the bottom left corner of the timeline window. Then double click on the title that you have placed onto Video 2.


The title will open up into three sub-tracks (V1.1, V1.2, and V1.3). Here is how the Avid Xpress software thinks.

V1.1 is what allows the Avid to display the title over top of Video 1 without having to perform a luma key. If you edit something onto this track, it will replace the background video that is currently on V1 (The skateboarder – dp10setledge.avi).

V1.2 is the fill inside the title. In this case, it is white. We are going to replace the white fill with the red siren.

V1.3 is the shape or matte of the title itself. This track cannot edit edited, and is locked by default.

Next, patch the V1 track to the V1.2 sub track. (the fill). Then mark an in point and out-point for the entire timeline. Edit the red siren (of whatever clip you choose) into the V1.2 (fill). Your timeline should look like this.


The red siren will replace the white fill of the title. The final effect will have the red siren moving inside the matte or shape of the title. This is an excellent way to spice up titles within Avid Xpress DV – Pro. There other advanced techniques that expand upon this technique. In particular, adding a drop shadow or glowing edge can be fairly tricky.


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"Groundbreaking" Documentary and Final Cut Pro was the previous entry in this blog.

Avid Express Pro and nVidia Drivers is the next entry in this blog.

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