Caption Masks 101 for Producer

(This article was written before version 6 in which we were given the ability to turn captions into real layers.)

Here are the things we can do with a Producer caption:

  • Mutate its color
  • Rotate it or its individual letters
  • Skew it
  • Alter its opacity
  • Pan it
  • Zoom it
  • Fill it with a gradient or image
  • Make it interactive (start, stop, pause, link to URL, etc.)
  • Use fly-in and fly-out effects

Amongst a number of things we can’t do, here are two:

  • Fill it with an image in motion.
  • Make it come out from beneath a layer

But we can do them if we turn the caption into a grayscale mask. If you haven’t gotten into masks yet, what follows is an easy introduction.

How to turn a caption into a mask

  1. Enter a caption using Tahoma set to a size of 36, making it white on a black background. (The font and size were chosen simply so you’ll be able to see things clearly.)
  2. With the caption showing on the large preview screen, right-click the screen and choose “Capture Frame(s)” in the menu that pops up.
  3. In the next screen, just click “OK”.
  4. You’ll now see a standard “Save to Image” dialogue. Browse to the folder where you want to save the image, and name the image something more descriptive than the default frame.jpg. If, for instance, the caption says “Rover, the dog,” name it Rover.jpg.
  5. Click “Save,” and you’re done. You’ve created a caption mask.

Basic mask setup

Hey! What are you waiting for? Without closing this screen, bring up Producer so you can follow the steps given above.

Once you’ve created and saved the caption mask…

  1. Drag it into a new slide.
  2. Click the “+” sign to add a new layer. Choose a gradient just to get your feet wet.
  3. Move the gradient down one layer to beneath the mask and click the right-pointing arrow to place it inside the mask. (Producer knows a grayscale mask when it sees one and will set it as such.)

You could have done the same thing by filling a regular caption with a gradient, but keep going…

A little less basic

  1. Change the gradient you currently have, choosing “Spectrums,” “Angular,” and then the 3rd one in from the left on the bottom row.
  2. Change its size to 720 x 720 (or anything that’s square.)
  3. Set it to “Fill frame.”
  4. Set the gradient’s rotation for keyframe 1 to -360 degrees and to +360 degrees for keyframe 2.
  5. Run the slide. (Yes, it’s ugly.)
  6. In Layers > Editing, set the Blur for the gradient to 100%.
  7. Run the slide. (Gives an interesting flashing effect, doesn’t it?)
  8. Add a color solid of any color you like, placing it in the Layer 1 position.
  9. In Layers > Settings, give the color solid a pan value of -80,0
  10. Select the mask layer, and in Effects > Motion, set its pan value in keyframe 1 to -80,0.
  11. Run the slide. (You just made a caption do what Producer captions can’t do: come out from beneath something.)

This is only an introduction to caption mask possibilities. The tricks you can perform are limited only by your imagination and derring-do.


  1. Very interesting! I’ll have to play with this…

  2. Definitely play with it. Ideas sprout better in recreational dirt. 🙂

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