… for Apple Motion

Tip #341: Uses for Emoji in Motion

Emojis add interest to any title and greater clarity to labels.

The emoji panel in Apple Motion.

Topic $TipTopic

You may have missed the memo, I certainly did, but we can now add emojis in any field that accepts text; including layer labels! Here’s how.

  • In Motion, open any object that allows you to type text. For example, titles, layer labels, even some parameter names.
  • Type Control + Cmd + Spacebar. This displays the emoji panel.
  • Double-click any emoji icon to add it to the text field.

Now that I’ve discovered how this works, I’m adding emojis everywhere!

Please rate the helpfulness of this tip.

Click on a star to rate it!

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #287: What Do These Blue Boxes Do?

Blue buttons simplify complex audio and video routing tasks.

The track header section of the Premiere timeline.

Topic $TipTopic

The Track Header on the left side of the Premiere timeline has two columns of blue buttons. Here’s what they do.

It is important to remember that there is no relationship between the two sets of buttons.

The blue buttons on the left side act as a “patch panel.” They determine which tracks from a clip in the Source Monitor or Project panel edit to specific tracks in the Timeline. For example, to edit audio only, turn OFF all blue buttons attached to video tracks.

The blue buttons on the right side determine which Timeline tracks are active. This affects copy/paste operations as well as selecting and cutting tracks.

  • To turn off a blue button click it.
  • To turn off, or on, all audio or all video buttons, Shift-click one of them.
  • To change the position of a button, drag it.

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #166: 8 Camera Hacks

8 simple tricks to make still images more creative.

Topic $TipTopic

Peter McKinnon, writing in DigitalRev, shares eight different tips we can quickly use on set to create a different look or fix a problem:

  • Belt Sling – Attach and suspend your camera from a belt to produce stabilized camera steady shots
  • Coffee Hood – Add a coffee cup sleeve to your lens for a cheap hood
  • Dream Chap – Add chapstick to your lens for an easy blur effect (perhaps apply this to a lens protector instead!)
  • Cello-lens – Add cellophane over a lens to distort the image
  • Shade Blend – Snap through a pair of sunglasses for a natural Instagram filter
  • Knife Blade – Introduce reflections by placing a shiny knife beneath the lens
  • Flashlight Flare – Shine a light between the camera sensor and the lens to introduce a light leak effect
  • Smart Flare – You can even use your smartphone to create fancy effects while on the go

… for Apple Motion

Tip #325: Add a Widget and Parameter in One Step

Rigs and Widgets are used to create templates in Motion for Final Cut Pro X.

Access this menu by clicking the downward pointing arrow next to any parameter, like Scale.

Topic $TipTopic

This was first reported in an Apple KnowledgeBase article.

Rigging is the process of creating effect controls in Motion that can be used in Final Cut. Normally, you create a rig, then add a widget (effect control), then add one or more snapshots (settings for the widget).

A rig in Motion has no effect until it contains a widget with assigned snapshots (parameter states).

As an alternative to creating a widget using the buttons in the Rig Inspector, you can create a rig and a widget and then apply a parameter to the widget in a single step.
In Motion, do one of the following:

  • In the Inspector, click a parameter’s Animation menu (the down arrow that appears when you position the pointer over the right side of a parameter row), choose Add To Rig, choose a rig, then choose a widget type from the submenu.
  • Drag a parameter row from any Inspector pane to a rig object in the Layers list.

    Dropping the parameter row immediately on the rig object creates a slider widget. Pausing briefly causes a drop menu to appear, allowing you to select the widget type you want to create.

A new widget appears in the Layers list, under its parent rig. In the Widget Inspector, the parameter you chose appears under the Edit Mode button, ready for snapshot assignment.

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #280: Adjustment Layers are Magic

Adjustment Layers are a fast way to change multiple clips all at once.

The New Item menu in Adobe Premiere Pro CC.
Create a new Adjustment Layer using the New Item menu in the Project panel.

Topic $TipTopic

An Adjustment Layer is a special kind of video clip that is placed above one or more clips in the Premiere timeline to which, when you apply an effect, those effects apply to every video clip under the adjustment layer.

If you’ve worked with adjustment layers in Photoshop, these work the same way, except they apply to layers of video, rather than layers in a still image.

To create an adjustment layer, click the New Item icon in the lower right corner of the Projects panel (blue in this screen shot) and select Adjustment Layer from the menu.

The next menu allows you to specify the size and timebase for the clip. For most situations, accept the defaults.

Then, watch what happens as you add different effects to this new clip. Remember, an adjustment layer ONLY affects clips that are stacked below it in the timeline.

NOTE: A good place to start using adjustment layers is to use one to create a consistent color look for all your clips.

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #281: Enable On-Screen Image Adjustments

Moving elements by dragging is MUCH faster!

Effect Controls panel detail in Adobe Premiere Pro CC.
Click “Motion” to enable modifying elements in the Program Monitor.

Topic $TipTopic

This is a very cool tip that I didn’t discover until I’d been using Premiere for several years.

Premiere provides the ability to resize, move and scale elements on screen in the Program Monitor, but you need to turn this feature on. And THAT is not easy to find. Here’s how.

  • Select a clip in the Timeline.
  • Click the word Motion in the Effect Controls panel.
  • A blue box surrounds the selected elements in the Program Monitor.
  • Drag a white dot to resize. Dragging a corner preserves the aspect ratio.
  • Click near, but outside, a corner to rotate the element
  • Click and drag inside the box to move the element.

To exit this mode, deselect the clip.


  • Press the Shift key to constrain movement to horizontal or vertical directions.
  • Press the Command key to display guidelines.
  • Press Shift and Command to quickly center an object vertically or horizontally.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #333: Favorites are Faster

Favorites are a fast way to build a “selects” reel.

The Favorites menu in Apple Final Cut Pro X.
Favorites are a fast way to flag clips that you really like, or really don’t want.

Topic $TipTopic

Apple made a big deal of Favorites when Final Cut Pro X was first launched. Now, you need to know where to look to find them. But, they are absolutely worth learning, because they can make finding the right clip a lot faster. Here’s how.

Favorites allow you tag clips, or ranges within a clip, as either a Favorite, Deleted or unflagged.

In the screen shot, here’s what the bars mean:

  • Green. The clip, or the range within a clip, is a Favorite (think of this as a select).
  • Red. The clip is flagged as deleted. Nothing is actually deleted, the clip is still in the Browser, but not displayed.
  • No bar. The clip is unflagged.
  • Dark blue. The clip has keywords assigned to it. (This isn’t a favorite, but I thought you’d like to know anyway.)

To apply a Favorite, select the clip(s), or range within a clip, in the Browser, and type:

  • F. This marks a Favorite
  • Delete. This marks a deleted clip. Be sure to use the big Delete key.
  • U. This removes any flags assigned with that clip; this resets both Favorite and deleted clips.

To see only clips that are Favorites or any other category, go to the Hide Rejected menu at the top of the Browser and select what you want to see.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #334: What is Continuous Playback?

This is a fast way to screen multiple clips.

Continuous playback simplifies screening multiple clips.

Topic $TipTopic

Continuous playback allows you to quickly review clips in the Browser without constantly selecting them and pressing Play.

When this setting is chosen, multiple event clips play without interruption (rather than stopping at the end of each clip).

  • Click the clip icon in the top right corner of the Browser and check Continuous Playback.
  • Once that’s checked, put your playhead in any Browser clip and press play.

When the first clip finishes, playback immediately continues with the next clip.


Remember, you can add markers to any Browser clip by pressing M. This allows you to flag key sections during initial screening.

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #175: Lighting Tricks with Your Cell Phone

A lighting kit is better, but a cell phone can salvage a shoot.

Create low-key mood lighting with an iPhone.
An iPhone can create great mood lighting.

Topic $TipTopic These lighting tips first appeared in PremiumBeat. While you never want to rely on your cell phone as the primary light source, here are some ideas you can use in a pinch.

  1. Moody lighting. Make the room as dark as possible. Search for an image of a solid color on the web, say, the color blue. Save it to Photos, then display that image full screen (as a saved photo) on your phone. Ta-DAH! Instant blue light.
  2. Use your flashlight. Prop your phone on a desk or table. Turn on the flashlight. Works great as a backlight. Bounce it off a wall or white foam core as a fill light.
  3. Quick softbox. Find an image on the web that’s all white. Save it to Photos, then display it as a full-screen image. instant softlight. It won’t light a big area, but it can give you a key in a pinch.
  4. Gaffer tape the phone to the ceiling. Put some gel over it to give it a color.
  5. Shine your light through a bottle of mouthwash or any other clear glass container containing colored liquid.


Just to state the obvious, be sure to pick a phone that won’t break your heart if it falls, gets taped or gets wet.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #315: Use the Snap Alignment Behavior in Motion

Keeps moving objects pointing in the direction of their movement.

The Behavior Inspector in Apple Motion.
Three motion behaviors applied to a moving object: Throw, Orbit Around & Snap Alignment to Motion.

Topic $TipTopic

The purpose of the “Snap Alignment to Motion” behavior is to keep moving objects, like arrows, pointing in the direction of their movement, regardless of how their position changes.

Here’s how this works.

  • Create an object, then apply behaviors to get it moving.

NOTE: In my case, I created an arrow, then applied a Throw behavior to get it to move, then Orbit Around to get it to circle another object.

  • Once you have the motion applied the way you want, apply Behaviors > Basic Motion > Snap Alignment to Motion.

Now, when you play the timeline, the arrow – or your object – should now point in the direction it moves.


If your object, like mine, is stubbornly pointing 90° away from its line of motion, change the Axis setting from Horizontal to Vertical. Now, the object will track properly.