Cinelerra for Grandma
Basic HOWTOs for very beginners
Cinelerra in 30'
Preparing media
Adjusting settings
Loading media
First editing
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Anamorphic video
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Table of Contents
Warning BEWARE!!! Work in progress

How to add a title

You can add a title at the beginning of your masterpiece using the titler, a plugin that you can find hidden among the Video Effects in the Resources window (Title).

  • Make sure the video track you want to use is armed. You can use a separate track for titles. Add a video track going to Video → Add track.

  • Set in/out points for the duration you want the title to have. In any case you can adjust the duration later.

  • Drag the Title icon/text from the Resources window and drop the white outline of the Title effect onto the selected area of the timeline, in the upper part of the track, where the video is represented by picons. Once dropped, the Title effect is shown as a brown bar at the bottom of the track. If you drag the Title icon or text onto the effect area of the track, that is at the bottom, under the picons, the title bar will be as long as your project.

  • Open the titler dialog box by clicking on the magnifier that is on the effect brown bar.

  • Write the text in the main field. Select the encoding of your language using the Encoding drop-down menu. English is part 1 of ISO-8859 (ISO-8859-1). For other languages see The Parts of ISO 8859 on Wikipedia.

To watch you title realtime in the Compositor click on the timebar to set the insertion point inside the area covered by the effect. If the titler dialog box is covering the Compositor, move it over the Viewer by dragging the window’s top bar.

You can modify the length of the title by lengthening the brow bar.

Click on the square-in-square last button on the left side of the Compositor window ("Show safe regions" tooltip). It shows a double outline on the Compositor. This is just a reference to help you keeping the titles inside the visible area on a TV screen (yes, TV screens crop the image).

Titles have many adjustable parameters:


The default font colour is black. You can change colour by clicking on Color… and opening the Color picker dialog box. For white titles, set the Value slider to maximum. Keep all the other sliders to minimum.

Font, Syze, Style

You can change also the Font, the Size and the Style of the title.


You can change the position of the title with the Justify buttons.You can adjust that position with X and Y. Use the tumblers or enter the number directly in the text fields.


By default the title has a shadow dropped. You can change the distance of the shadow increasing or decreasing the number in the Drop shadows field. 0 has no shadow at all.

Fade in/out

You can make the title fade in and fade out. Enter in the Fade in (sec) or in the Fade out (sec) fields the amount of time you want the fading to last.

How to add scrolling credits

At the end of your movie you probably want to add scrolling credits, that are a special kind of titles.

Prepare a title following the above howto.

  • Write the text in the main field, one line after another

  • Make sure the Fade in/out values are 0.

  • Make you credits move by selecting the Motion Type in the drop-down menu. Bottom to top motion is pretty classic.

  • Set the speed of the motion in the Speed field. 80 pixels per second is a nice speed.

To preview the scrolling credits in the Compositor set the insertion point at the beginning of the tile bar. You won’t see the credits but they are ready to appear. Drag the knob of the Compositor slider to quickly move forward in time. Check that the length of the title bar is appropriate to show the whole text. If not, adjust the length of the effect.

How to add fonts to the titler

As you can see the titler offers a limited set of fonts. Your system has much more fonts installed.

You can have a look at some of them with the command:

nautilus /usr/share/fonts/truetype

Some other fonts are freely available on the web. They are often downloadable as an archive and need to be estracted first. Just rigth click with your mouse and select Estract here.

Cinelerra can’t use these fonts directly. You have to feed Cinelerra with them first. Here is the recipe, tested with True Type Fonts (TTF) only.

  • Open your file manager with admin privileges with the following terminal command:

    sudo nautilus
  • Copy the fonts file (.ttf extension) to /usr/lib/cinelerra/fonts

  • Make sure they have the right permissions (read and write/read/read). In Nautilus file manager go to Edit→Preferences→List columns and enable Permissions. To correct permissions right click on the file and select Properties→Permissions. You can select more than one file to change the permissions of several files with a single operation.

  • To prevent mistakes, close nautilus with CTRL + C

  • Now run the following terminal commands, one at the time:

    sudo apt-get install ttmkfdir
    cd /usr/lib/cinelerra/fonts/
    sudo ttmkfdir -o fonts.scale
    sudo mkfontdir
    sudo fc-cache
  • Open the Cinelerra titler. You should now see the new fonts in the dropdown menu.

Note For self-compiled Cinelerras the path is /usr/local/lib/cinelerra/fonts

Bugs and workarounds

1023 characters limit

The titler text field has a capacity of 1023 characters. If you go over that limit… it won’t pass unnoticed (see bug 155 to know more). Basically you’ll get crazy behaviour and eventually a crash.

In the event of a crash, open Cinelerra again and, as first operation, go to File → Load backup to restore your project. Save it without opening the titler dialog box.

Waiting for the bug to be fixed, you need a workaround. Here you can find two.

1 GUI workaround

It’s not possible to recover credits gone wild using the GUI. You have to follow the recipe of workaround #2 and use a text editor.

To make new credits (longer-than-1023-characters) you can spread your text in more than one Title effect.

Either you are a genius and can stop writing your credits in the titler before the 1024th character or you write your credits in a text editor first.

To be sure to stay below the 1023-characters limit you can use the feature present in most text editors. In Text Editor/gedit the Tools menu has a Document Statistic entry four counting the characters used in the file. You’ll end up with several 1000 characters text files.

To join smoothly two scrolling credits the effects must slightly overlap.

screenshot .

2 Text-mode workaround

To recover credits gone wild you have to work outside the titler text field, editing directly the EDL, that is an XML text file. Don’t be scared, it’s easier than it looks.

  • Open the XML project text file with a text editor by clicking on the filename (e.g. mymasterpiece.xml) with the right mouse button and choosing Open with "Text editor" from the menu. Congratulations! You are now facing the naked Edit Decision List.

  • In the Text Editor menus (gedit in this case) go to Search → Find. Enter the first words of your credits in the Search for field (e.g. Thanks to GRANDPA). Clicking on the Find button will bring you to the part of the XML file that describes the Title plugin settings. It should look like this:

<PLUGIN LENGTH="404" TYPE="1" TITLE="Title">


Thanks to
  • To avoid any risk of damaging the original project, make your experiments on a copy. Go to File → Save as and enter a new filename (e.g. my experimentalmasteripece.xml).

  • Edit the text part of your credits adding what is still missing. You can also easily change other settings (e.g. font size, speed). Don’t modify the formatting of the XML file.

  • Save your changes. Open the modified XML in Cinelerra and check the credits in the Compositor. Adjust the length and the position of the Title effect as needed (see Effects to know more).

Do not open the titler dialog box for this effect unless you want Cinelerra to crash again. For modifying the longer-than-1023-characters text edit only the XML file in a text editor.

To make new credits (longer-than-1023-characters) first use the titler with a short sample of your credits, so you can easily set the title attributes. Then add the remaining part of your credits editing the XML file in a text editor, as described above. Speed can be easily tweaked editing the XML in the text editor too.

Copy and paste

The titler doesn’t support keyboard shortcuts Ctrl+Ins for copying, Shift+Ins for pasting and _Shift-Del for cutting. See bug 509

Use only Ctr+C for copying, Ctrl-V for pasting and Ctrl-X for cutting.

The titler does support mouse copy and paste (dragging/highlighting for copying, middle button or wheel click for pasting). But it supports a bug too (see bug 508):

After pasting, very often the title is visible in the text field but not in the Compositor. If you close the titler and open it again, the text has gone.
To make your pasting stable, you have to enter at least one character with the keyboard.