Need a (non-time-oriented) counter

I'd like an on-screen counter which increments each time an event happens on the screen. The counter will go from 1 to 35. Is there a way to do that without 35 text layers appearing and disappearing sequentially?


  • Here's one way to do it:

    • Make a new comp named Numbers that's really tall and narrow (you'll see why in a second).  Figuring out the size may take some trial and error.
    • In this comp, make a single text layer that fills the whole comp.
    • In that text layer, type the numbers 0-9, each on its own line, left-justified, and large enough so that the numbers fill the full text area top to bottom.  (If it's a little short, don't worry.)
    • Drop this comp *twice* into another comp containing your footage.  I'll refer to these as Numbers 1 and Numbers 2.
    • Position these two numbers layers so they're side by side: Numbers 1 on the left, Numbers 2 on the right.  We'll do more detailed positioning in a second, but for now you should see 00, 11, 22, etc. in rows.
    • Add a plane that's just tall enough to cover a single row from your Numbers comps (scale it that way if you want), and parent both Numbers layers to it.
    • For both Numbers layers, add the Set Matte effect, with the plane you just made as the target (which you can now hide).  Set the Blend to Subtract, and check the Invert box.  You should only see a single row of numbers once this is done.
    • Adjust the Y position of Numbers 1 (left) so that it's not visible at all (or on 0 if you want your first number to read "01")
    • Adjust the Y position of Numbers 2 (right) so that you see the number 1.
    • Turn on position keyframes for both Numbers comps, and change those initial keyframes to Constant.

    I think you can see where this is going.  When you want the number to change, slide Numbers 2 (right) up to the next number, and change the keyframe type to Constant.  Once you go from 9 to 10 (or 09 to 10), adjust Numbers 1 to reveal the 1 row.  Continue moving the Numbers comps each time the number needs to change, and make sure to change the new keyframes to Constant.  Moving the plane that's acting as the matte will let you position and scale these numbers as you desire.

  • Thanks again @jsbarret, that's a cool solution I'd have taken a very, very long time to come up with on my own! Now I'm thinking with portals!

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Hmmm. I had a suggestion, but @jsbarrett has a much better one. 

  • Regarding the instruction 'Set the Blend to Subtract, and check the Invert box.', I notice that the default Blend mode is Replace and this seems to produce the same effect as inverted subtraction. Are they functionally different in this case?

  • If you leave the Blend mode on Replace, it will remove the normal alpha of the text layer and replace it with the alpha of the layer you're using as a matte, which in most cases will create a black background behind your text.

    Here's a visual example. I've put two text layers over a grey background. They both have the set matte effect, each targeting a narrow plane as the matte source.  The top one uses the Replace blend mode, the bottom one uses Subtract with the Invert option.  Very different!

  • I usually try all 6 of the options (3 with/without invert) until I get the desired result as I can never remember what they all do. :)

  • Thanks! I was doing it over a black background which must be why I couldn't see the difference!

  • I made a tutorial on how to do this based on this thread. Enjoy!

  • It's a genius solution for something that you wouldn't think should be a problem. It would be nice if Hitfilm added something but I'm not sure how often people do counters to make it worthwhile.

    For Alfie's 100 Million Subscriber skit we needed a count about 100 million going up in random stages in a certain font of a certain size over a certain adjustable period.  I was sure there would be something on the interweb but couldn't find anything. In the end we had to program it ourselves.

  • @HitfilmSensei hahaha, I wanted to link to your video but you were here first 

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