Lower Third Animated Titles on an ATEM

Tips & Tricks

Professional Looking Title Graphics

It’s easy to create and display great looking lower third animated titles on an ATEM video switcher. This is particularly useful on ATEMs like the ATEM Mini and ATEM Television Studio that lack an internal ‘clip’ storage.

The graphics to create lower third animated titles on an ATEM can be created in any video editor that can export TIFF or PNG images with an alpha channel. Images rendered with an alpha channel include transparency information. Because transparency is included, the title appears to overlay the video when the ATEM downstream keyer is configured properly. Thus, the title animation will animate on top of an underlying camera shot.

For this article Davinci Resolve is used to make the lower third animated titles. Davinci Resolve can be downloaded from the Black Magic Design website. The editing and rendering process will create a sequence of TIFF images with an alpha channel. When the ATEM displays them in rapid sequence, it looks like a short video animation.

Here’s a summary of the process we are about to do:

First Things First

Here’s a checklist of thing to verify before we begin:

  • Download and install Davinci Resolve. The free version is sufficient for this project.
  • Download this .drp project file. You can download a .zip file containing rendered images and the .drp project file and skip the editing and rendering procedure.

Make certain your ATEM is operational, has current firmware, is connected to a LAN, and you have a computer on the LAN set up to control it. The ATEM’s Media Player 1 and DSK1 will be used for the animation.

[CLICK HERE] to watch a Black Magic Design video about how to record and playback macros to display a simple animation. Our animation is similar but ensures the ATEM is configured properly first, and it contains more images and different pause values.

Davinci Resolve’s stock 3D Lower 3rd Rotating Plane 2 Line lower third will be used. Any of the stock titles built into Davinci Resolve’s Effects Library can be used. Once you finish this exercise and have a good idea of how things work, then you can try other types of titles. They all look and behave differently and you might find something you prefer for your application.

Editing Procedure

Open the .drp file and look at the editing timeline. Click to select the upper video track. Then click the upper right Inspector tab if the inspector pane is not already visible. The Inspector is where you edit the name, title and organization. There are 2 lines of text, so edit this as appropriate.

The .drp project timeline contains 17 video frames. Black Magic Design’s smaller ATEMs can store 20 still images. So with 17 images in this animation there is storage for 3 additional graphic images for other purposes.

Click on the Render tab, and configure things as shown below:

  • Specify the file name and the location where to store the rendered TIFF files. During the render process the filename of each TIFF file will be appended with an 8 digit sequence number. The numbers start with 0000000 and will end with 00000016.
  • Click the Individual Clips radio button
  • Check the Export Video checkbox
  • Format pull down is set to TIFF
  • Codec pull down is set to RGB 8-bit
  • Resolution is set to 1920 x 1080 HD (or as appropriate to your ATEM)
  • Check the Export Alpha checkbox (very important)

Click Add to the Render Queue and then click Start Render. The TIFF files will be rendered almost instantly. You can then Save the project or Save As so Davinci Resolve will remember your specific project settings.

This makes it easy to create animations for other people. The .drp can be opened, edited, rendered and saved with another name as you develop a library of animations for other regular and guest speakers.

Load the ATEM

The next steps create 2 macros. One macro will configure the ATEM downstream keyer, turn on the downstream keyer, and display the TIFF images in quick succession, and then end. The other macro will make the image sequence play in reverse order to make the title disappear, turn the downstream keyer off, and then end.

Load the TIFF files on the computer that is used to operate the ATEM, Put them in a folder location you will remember. If you rendered them on the same computer that operates the ATEM you are all set. Start the ATEM Control Software and connect to the ATEM.

Click the Media tab. On the left, expand the directory folder structure and click on the folder containing the TIFF files. Below the directory pane you will see the list of TIFF filenames. One by one, drag and drop each TIFF file to it’s own storage location:
  • L3 Animated Title – Pastor John Smith00000000.tif will drag and drop into storage location 1
  • L3 Animated Title – Pastor John Smith00000001.tif will drag and drop into storage location 2
  • L3 Animated Title – Pastor John Smith00000002.tif will drag and drop into storage location 3
  • etc.

Load the rest of the images into successive ATEM media storage locations. Do this until all 17 images have been loaded into the ATEM media storage. With ATEM Mini’s the graphics will remain in non-volatile memory until changed, even if the ATEM is turned off. On some older ATEMs the content might have to be reloaded if the ATEM is turned off.

The 00000000.tif image is completely blank. Any prior image in the storage location will be overwritten. In this way when the keyer is operated nothing will appear,

Create the Macros

Click on the Macros menu to open the macro window. Click on the slot where you want the macro stored. Click the Create button. Click the + (Plus Sign), and give the macro a name – something like L3 Title ON and press enter. Click the red Record button to start recording the steps needed to display the TIFF images.
NOTE: it is very important to record every step to the macro. The macro does not know the state of the ATEM when it runs. If the DSK has been previously used for other purposes, it needs to be reconfigured. It is important to make sure the macro places the ATEM into the proper state needed to display the TIFF images when the macro executes. These steps will ensure this.
Click the Switcher tab.
Click the DSK1 ON AIR button once or twice and ensure it is OFF
Click the Palettes tab.
Click Downstream Keys
Set the Fill signal to Media Player 1
Set the Key signal to Media Player 1 Key
Set the Clip = 45%
Set the Gain = 18%
Click the Mask radio button ON and OFF, and ensure it is OFF
Click the Media Players tab.
Select Still 1 from the MP1 drop down list
Click the DSK ON AIR button, so that it is ON (RED).
Click Add Pause at the top of the window
Click the User Wait checkbox once or twice to make sure it is not checked. Depending on the ATEM video standard (frames per second) configuration, add 2 frames of delay between images when the ATEM video standard is 50 to 60 FPS, or add 1 frame of delay if operating at a lower ATEM video standard.
Select Still 2 from the MP1 drop down list
Click Add Pause and add the same number of frame(s) of delay
Select Still 3 from the MP1 drop down list
Click Add Pause and add the same number of frame(s) of delay
Select Still 4 from the MP1 drop down list
Click Add Pause and add the same number of frame(s) of delay
Continue the process and select each of the stills in the sequence, then click ADD Pause and add the same delay value until all 17 images have been added to the macro. Adding a delay is not necessary after the final image (00000016).
Click on the Macro window and click the red Record button to stop recording the macro.
Congratulations! The macro is now complete and ready to use!!
Now record another macro that does the reverse. It is not necessary to preconfigure the ATEM as it it already known to be configured properly and is still ON at this point in time. One by one you record the images and the delay value starting with image 00000016, and working down to image 00000000. Then click the DSK ON AIR button to turn the keyer OFF. You can name this macro L3 Title Off or something similar.

Run the Macros

Click the macro Run tab, and click the small Recall and Run radio button. Then click on the L3 Title On macro label to see the animation appear to slide into view. It will remain in view after the macro concludes. The title can be faded out by clicking the DSK Auto button. Or you can click the L3 Title Off macro label to watch the title slide back out in reverse.
With practice it only takes a moment to drag and drop 17 different images, This makes it possible to build a library of title animations for people who speak on a regular basis or for guest speakers. In most production workflows there is usually sufficient time to quickly drag and drop a different set of TIFF files into the Media storage to change the content that the macros will display.
One final tip: The Macro window is a separate window. So like any window, you need to click on the switcher window somewhere to get the mouse focus back on the switcher so you can control it.
Enjoy your new lower third title animations on your ATEM. Let me know if you like it!