Canvas & Viewer Overlays

The informational overlays that you can place over the Viewer or Canvas are the same: the “title and action-safe” guides and the timecode information (you could also consider the “excess luma,” “excess chroma” or both of those to be overlays, but we’ll discuss those in another post as they have their own quirks).

The way these work together is interesting, so let’s start with what is probably the most useful overlay for general editing, the title and action-safe guides. Note that these do not actually have an on/off toggle shortcut (but you may not care as they go away when you hit play anyway), so I would recommend turning them on and leaving them on. That being said, you do have a shortcut to toggle all “overlays” off and on and that is CTRL OPT W

So now you can turn your title and action-safe lines on and off. Good. The other shortcut is for turning the timecode overlay and it is OPT Z

So now you can easily add or subtract this (quite valuable) info with the OPT Z toggle. This means that, assuming you take my advice and leave the title safe guides on all the time, you have three possible states:

  • All overlays off (CTRL OPT W to do this, but hey, when you play, they disappear and that may be adequate)
  • Title and action-safe guide only on (just CTRL OPT W the overlays on and make sure you OPT Z the timecode stuff off)
  • Title and action-safe guides and timecode info overlays on simultaneously (CTRL OPT W and OPT Z to suit)

So yeah, when you have ‘em all on it’s a wee bit busy, but I find it pretty easy to live with and it beats mousing up to turn on and off the title-safe stuff, right? And really, you should be aware of title and action safe when it comes to lower thirds and critical action. Sure, they’re maybe a bit conservative with today’s non-CRT TVs, but the one time you really push the limit will be the time you’ll get burned and the client will call and yell that his grandma can’t see the 800 number for his law firm on her 1984 Magnavox console TV with the doily on top (and wedding videographers, can I get an amen here?)

Bottom line: Just learn these two shortcuts and use them together to get whatever you need overlay-wise. The key here is to just keep your title and action-safe guides turned on all the time. Play with this today and try to remember these great shortcuts–that’s all you need to do today on your journey to shortcutting efficiency.

NOTE: Since this was first written, I have also covered CTRL Z for toggling the Luma Range Check on and off, so be sure to read that article as well because it ties all of these overlay commands together.

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