Place Text Behind Objects in DaVinci Resolve 17 (Color & Fusion Page)

DaVinci Resolve 24/10/2021 4 min read

Titles or text behind objects in a video feels very immersive. It’s almost like a 3D experience. Placing text behind an object in DaVinci Resolve 17 can be reasonably easy or very hard depending on the object you want to place the text behind and the amount of movement there is in the frame.

We will look at 2 methods you can use to place text behind objects in DaVinci Resolve 17. Complex objects and movement can make placing text behind objects difficult and tedious. The process remains mostly the same but for complex objects, it may require multiple masks and lots of tedious manual rotoscoping. So start off with something simple.

Part 1: Easily Add Text Behind Objects in DaVinci Resolve 17 (Color Page)

For this method, you need a simple object with relatively little movement, like this aerial Goldman Sachs Tower, Jersey City stock footage from Motion Array. The building outline is simple with a clear sky behind it for text visibility as well as easier tracking and masking. Follow the steps below.

  1. Add a clip to your timeline then add text on top of your clip.
  2. Adjust the text in the Inspector until you have the desired look and position for the text. Don’t start the rest until you have the final look and position for your text.
  3. Now duplicate your clip and place the duplicate above the text layer. With your duplicate clip selected go to the Color page.
  4. Add an Alpha Output node by right-clicking in an empty space in the Node editor then select Add Alpha Output. Connect the Alpha Output from the node to the Alpha Output you created.
  5. Now we need to create a mask using a window. We will create this window (masks) using the Pen tool in the Window menu.
  6. Only mask the areas where the text will overlap with the object. 

Note: It is easy to create way too many points on your mask (like we did in this example tutorial). The more points you have the more adjustments you will need to make when you track the mask. More points make it more difficult and time-consuming.

  1. Draw your mask as needed to reveal the text below. Make sure you are doing this on the first frame of your clip. Once you close the mask the text will show. 

Note: If your text is showing inside your object you will need to Invert the mask.

  1. Your text will now be revealed behind the object but as soon as there is movement it won’t work. That’s why we need to track the mask.
  2. In the Tracking window, change the tracking from Clip to Frame and then track forward. This change is so we can adjust points frame by frame without affecting the entire track.
  3. Adjust the mask for frames where the mask is off the object. Start from the end and work backward as the software will interpret the changes so you need to make fewer adjustments. It may be time-consuming to get a perfect mask and the more complex the object is the longer it will take.

Tip: For a clean edge to your mask adjust the Softness setting to get a smooth edge.

Part 2: Place Text Behind Moving Objects in DaVinci Resolve 17 (Fusion Page)

Now we will look at something a bit more complex. In this shot, we have a car driving through a forest. The background is complex and so is the shape of the car. Tracking in the Color page of DaVinci Resolve won’t work that well so this will essentially be an entirely manual process in Fusion. Fusion in DaVinci Resolve is great for this kind of complex masking work referred to as rotoscoping. To learn more about masking in Fusion have a read of this article.

  1. Add your clip to a timeline and with it selected go straight to the Fusion page.
  2. Add a Text1 node to your MediaIn node and adjust the text position and look until you have your final look for the text. Don’t start masking until this is done.
  3. Add a Polygon node to the Text1 node. This will be your mask. 
  4. Invert the mask by ticking the checkbox in the Inspector.
  5. Go to the first frame where your object will overlap with your text.
  6. In the Inspector add a keyframe to the center position of your mask.
  7. Now start masking and keep your mask simple. Don’t add too many and unnecessary points (like we did). Only mask the areas where the object and text will intersect. Any additional points make it more complex.
  8. Once your mask is complete you will now need to manually adjust it frame by frame.  Start by only adjusting the center point to follow the movement of the object through the clip. 
  9. Once you have this movement tracked you will need to go frame by frame adjusting each point on the mask until it is perfect. This can be a long and tedious process. 
  10. Finally, give your mask a slightly soft edge in the Inspector using the Softness parameter for a nice result.

It is important to note that technically the text should be visible through the car windows as it drives by. This would involve additional masking and compositing to get a realistic look. The same applies to the gaps in the roof racks. This is where complex objects become very difficult. Keep that in mind for when you want to place objects in front of text in DaVinci Resolve.

Placing a text behind an object in DaVinci Resolve 17 can be achieved in both the Color page and in Fusion. The Color page is best for simple objects with not much movement, while Fusion allows complex rotoscoping to be done where there are complex objects and movements in the video. If you are interested to learn more about other text effects in DaVinci Resolve 17, have a read about creating neon text effects.