How to display multiple videos inside text in Premiere Pro

In a previous article I explained how to display videos inside title text in Premiere Pro. In this post I explain how to put a different video clip inside each letter in the title text.

And yes, before you shout in protest that the featured image should say FLY PAST, I apologise for using FLY BY, but please look beyond that and read on.

I decided to post this tutorial because a colleague recently saw an advertisement on TV for the series of Star Wars movies which showed a different clip from the films playing inside each letter in the Star Wars logo and asked me how it was done. I don’t have a clip of what was shown on TV, but here is a still image to give you an idea:

Stars Wars on Netflix as an example of how to display videos inside text in Premiere Pro
Credit: What’s On Netflix

Here is my simple version, which uses five clips recorded during the UK Royal Air Force centenary celebrations of the FLY PAST (not FLY BY!) over London on 10 July 2018 (turn the audio on for better effect):

Credit: Vissiniti

To create a sequence like this, you are basically repeating the four simple steps set out in my previous article (which explains how to how to display one video inside the whole title text) for each character in the title text and for each movie clip you use (so five times for my sequence or six times in the case of the Star Wars logo) and you stack the clips in the timeline.

If you would prefer to skip all the following narrative, you can jump straight to a summary of the four basic steps. But if you read on you will find some useful tips about issues to keep in mind as you create your title.

STEP 1:

Decide on the video clips to use — they all need to be the same duration so spend some time trimming and selecting the right piece of action to show in each letter. Bring the clips into the timeline and stack them. You can use any tracks you want, but I used the first five even numbered tracks for my video clips, stacked in the order of the letters in the title — so my clips are in tracks V2, V4, V6, V8 and V10. By the end, V2 will play inside F, V4 will play inside L, V6 will play inside Y, V8 will play inside B, and V10 will play inside another Y. And I will use track V1 for a background clip or colour.

STEP 2:

Creating the title text. Use a chunky font so viewers can see enough of the video clip inside each letter. And make a final decision on your text before you move on (it can get messy if you change the text after you have scaled or rotated your video clips — more on that later).

I need to use five video tracks for my title, one for each text character in the word FLYBY. Create each text character in a separate graphic layer, positioning the letter in the correct place on screen, and stack the five layers. My graphics are in the odd numbered tracks (F=V3, L=V5, Y=V7, B=V9, Y=V11), alternating with the video clips in the even numbered tracks, but you can use any tracks you want. Each graphic should be the same duration as the video clips.

At this stage I have used 11 tracks (plus additional audio tracks) and the content of each has the same duration:

TrackContent (same duration)
V11Text layer Y
V10Clip to be displayed inside Y
V9Text layer B
V8Clip to be displayed inside B
V7Text layer Y
V6Clip to be displayed inside Y
V5Text layer L
V4Clip to be displayed inside L
V3Text layer F
V2Clip to be displayed inside F
V1Background clip or colour

STEP 3: 

Go to Effects > Video Effects > Keying and drag Track Matte Key onto the five video clips, which in my case are in tracks V2, V4, V6, V8 and V10.

STEP 4: 

Select one video clip at a time, for example V2, and go to Effect Controls and in fx Track Matte Key select the video track to use as the matte, in this case I would select “Video 3” — so Premiere Pro will use the text in V3 as the mask for the clip in V2. Do the same for the other video clips in your stack. After doing this step, I have:

V3 set as matte for V2
V5 set as matte for V4
V7 set as matte for V6
V9 set as matte for V8
V11 set as matte for V10

And that’s it. You can add a background clip or colour into track V1, or have no background. You can view more examples on Vimeo using the link at the bottom of this page.

MODIFYING THE TEXT AFTER STEP 3:

If you decide you want to move a clip around inside one of the text characters to show a better scene, like I did, note that whatever you do to the clip (re-position, re-scale, rotate) it will do the same to the text character, and then you have to move the text back to where it was originally positioned. It can get very frustrating. All of my clips were taken from the same viewpoint with the aircraft flying in the same direction and I had to rotate and scale some of the clips so that the aircraft would fly up or down the letters (for example, I wanted the Red Arrows to fly down the “Y”). It did get very fiddly.

If you then decide you also want to change the title wording it gets really messy. I haven’t figured out a way around it not getting messy. Read my comments about this in my earlier article on this subject. But my advice is to make a final decision on the text right at the start and don’t go moving your clips around inside the letters later. Re-positioning in the x and y directions is easy, but don’t re-scale or rotate — if you don’t believe me, try it and see!

SUMMARY

Here is my QuickStep card that summarises how to display multiple videos inside text in Premiere Pro: