The Ultimate Guide to Creating Credits for Your Short Film in 2023

If you’ve just wrapped production on your short film, congratulations! You’ve crossed a major hurdle. But don’t pop the champagne just yet – there’s still an important step you need to complete to wrap up your project properly: the credits.

Creating polished, professional credits is crucial for honoring everyone who worked on your short film. It allows you to formally thank your cast and crew for their contributions. Plus, compelling credits help leave viewers with a positive final impression after watching your film.

But with so many options for creating credits, how do you know where to start? What exactly should you include?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the entire process of planning, creating, and integrating short film credits – from choosing background music all the way to exporting your final sequence. Follow these tips to craft credits that properly showcase all the hard work that went into your short film.

Creating Credits for Your Short Film – Planning

The first step is deciding what you want your credits to achieve, and what resources you have available. Here are some key questions to address in your planning phase:

What’s Your Budget for the Credits?

Your budget will dictate some of the options available in terms of software, source materials, music, and more. Simple text-only credits over black are essentially free.

However, more complex animated credits or licensing music can require more financing. If your resources are limited, get creative with free fonts, public-domain music/images, and easy DIY animation techniques.

What Style or Tone Do You Want?

Think about what overall look and feel will complement your film. Formal black and white credits set a serious tone. Colorful, whimsical animated credits might suit a quirky comedy. Match the style of your credits to your film’s genre for continuity.

Which Credits Should You Include?

Most films start with “directed by”, “written by”, “produced by” and main cast credits before getting into the crew. Be sure to include:

  • Main cast
  • Director
  • Producer(s)
  • Writers
  • Director of Photography (DP)
  • Camera operators
  • Production designer
  • Costume designer
  • Editor
  • Original music by
  • Visual effects by (if applicable)

You can also add special thanks or acknowledgments for people who provided support. Customize your credits to highlight the key players in your production.

What Order and Sections Should You Use?

A basic order is:

  1. Opening credits
  2. Main cast
  3. Director, writers, producers
  4. Crew – camera, lighting, production design, etc
  5. Additional cast
  6. Music
  7. Special thanks

Categorize people into sections for better organization. And always end with a special thanks to leave audiences feeling appreciated.

What Background Audio or Visuals Should You Use?

Credits roll over a blank black screen in many films. But you can also get creative with backgrounds. Consider:

  • B-roll footage from the film
  • Still images or original artwork
  • Stock video clips if the budget allows
  • Simple patterns, shapes, or textures

For audio, popular options include:

  • The film’s soundtrack or score
  • Ambient background music
  • A montage of clips from the film’s dialogue
  • Subtle sound effects

When the budget is limited, creative public domain options are available. The key is choosing background visuals and audio that tie back to the mood and style of your film.

Creating the Visuals for Your Credits

Once you’ve completed your planning, it’s time to start designing the visual look of your credits. Here are some tips for creating graphics, typography, and formatting that will impress viewers.

Simple Text Over Black

If your resources are limited, you can’t go wrong with simple white or colored text on a black background. Choose a sleek, easy-to-read font like Arial, Helvetica, or Century Gothic.

Make names around 100-125 pt size so they are legible. Keep text centered or left-aligned, and make sure spacing between names is consistent.

This simple style works great for horror or dramatic films where bold, plain text suits the tone.

Get Creative with Animation and Effects

If your budget allows, explore animation and visual effects to make your credits shine:

  • Scroll text from bottom to top or use slide transitions between names.
  • Use motion graphics like slow zooms, fades, and wipes for added flair.
  • Incorporate backgrounds like moving shapes, light leaks, or subtle textures.
  • Combine live-action footage, stills, or original art for dynamic motion.
  • Add shadow, opacity, or blur effects to names and backgrounds.

Tools like Adobe After Effects provide many options for animated credits. You can also find templates and online graphics to customize.

Select Stylish Fonts and Sizes

Regardless of animation, choose fonts and text sizes carefully:

  • Fonts like Baskerville, Futura, and Copperplate Gothic often look great for credits.
  • Keep fonts consistent across sections. Vary weight/italics rather than multiple fonts.
  • Use larger sizes like 150-200 pt for lead actor names to make them pop.
  • Make production roles like “costume designer” around 80-100 pt.
  • Use consistent sizing across names within sections.

Time Everything to Your Backgrounds

Credit speed should match the pacing of your backgrounds:

  • With still images, frames change every 2-4 seconds.
  • For b-roll, plan 5-10 seconds per name.
  • With quicker cuts, allow just 1-2 seconds per name.
  • Watch footage as you create graphics to time names appropriately.

Poorly timed credits either move too slowly or end up out of sync with backgrounds.

Adding Audio to Your Credits

Audio is critical for setting the right tone in your credits sequence. Follow these tips when selecting background music or sounds.

Use the Film’s Soundtrack or Score

The best option is to use music directly from the film. This creates:

  • A seamless, continuous mood from film to credits.
  • Familiarity for the audience since it’s heard earlier.
  • Synchronization between scenes and names if clips play under credits.

Many films end with a montage scene where a soundtrack song plays before continuing into the credits.

Find Complementary Ambient Background Music

If you don’t have appropriate music from the film, choose a track that complements the tone you want. For example:

  • Soft piano or acoustic guitar for dramas.
  • Upbeat pop or rock song for comedies.
  • Epic orchestral score for action/adventure.

Search royalty free music sites for inexpensive options.

Use Dialogue Clips or Sound Effects

For a unique touch, use clips of dialogue or sound effects from the film’s key scenes under the credits. This adds relevance by tying directly back to the story.

You can also use subtle transitions like soft chimes between credit sections. This enhances the polished feel.

Record Voiceover Narration

A narrator reading the credits aloud can work nicely, especially for artsy films. You can use a deep trailer voice, or one of the main actors. Just keep the volume lowered slightly so the narration isn’t overpowering.

Exporting and Integrating Your Completed Credits

Once your visuals are complete and you’ve added audio, it’s time to export everything and insert it into your finished film.

Render Out Your Credit Sequence

Export your credits using the same resolution, frame rate, and codec as your edited film for consistency. Common options include:

  • HD resolution like 1080p or 720p
  • High frame rate if your film uses 48 or 60 FPS
  • Codec like H.264 for compatibility across devices

Name your credit sequence like “MyFilm_Credits” for easy organization.

Insert the Credit Clip into Your Project Timeline

Import your exported credit clip back into your editing project. Position it at the very end after your film’s conclusion. Watch the sequence end-to-end to ensure a smooth transition into the credits.

Make any last edits to the audio fade or timing if needed.

Tweak Levels, Color, and More

Review your credits sequence closely for any final polish needed:

  • Adjust audio levels on narration or background tracks.
  • Color grade to match the look and feel of your actual film.
  • Add a slight fade out of the picture and sound at the very end.

Export and Share Your Film – Credits and All

With integrated credits, your short film is complete! Export a final viewing copy and start sharing your work with the cast, crew, film festivals, and potentially a wider online audience.

Credits recognize the people who helped bring your creative vision to life. They also lend your film a professional, polished look that viewers will appreciate.

Follow this process from start to finish, and you can create short film credits that properly showcase all the hard work that went into your project. Most importantly, take pride in and show gratitude for your cast and crew by honoring them with great closing credits.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do short films have credits?

Yes, short films should have credits to recognize the cast and crew that worked on the film. Credits are a standard part of any film, including shorts.

How long should short film credits be?

For short films under 30 minutes, the credits usually range from 1-2 minutes in length. Focus on listing the core cast and crew. The credits don’t need to be as extensive as a feature film.

How do you give credits at the end of a video?

Some options for adding credits at the end of a video include: simple text over the final scene, a black background with scrolling white text, an end title card with cast/crew names, or a dedicated credit sequence set to music or b-roll footage.

How are film credits determined?

The key positions like director, producer, writer, and top billed actors typically get listed first. The order is then determined by the hierarchy of the crew roles, like department heads and support crew. Actors are often listed by level of importance/screen time.

Does a short film need an ending?

Yes, a short film needs some sense of conclusion or ending, just like a feature film. This provides resolution for the story and a satisfying stopping point for audiences. The ending can be open-ended, but should not feel incomplete.

Do short movies make money?

Short films generally don’t make much money directly. However, they can be used as calling cards by filmmakers to demonstrate skills and get funding for future projects. Shorts in festivals increase exposure. Some filmmakers monetize shorts via ads on YouTube, DVD sales, or licensing opportunities.

How do you make opening credits?

Some options include animated text over a background, still image montage, logo reveals, character introductions, title cards, and clips foreshadowing the story. Opening credits set the tone and introduce key players.

Are film credits mandatory?

Most countries don’t legally require credits, but they are considered mandatory from an industry standpoint. Credits recognize the contributions of cast/crew. Not having them is frowned upon and can make it difficult to hire people for future projects.

What do you put in end credits?

Typical end credits include cast, director, writers, producers, department heads like editor and cinematographer, additional crew, music, special thanks, studio/production company logos.

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