… for Apple Motion

Tip #465: What is a Rig?

Rigs simplify controlling effects in Motion.

A new Rig added to a Motion project.

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Rigs are used to pass controls for Motion template effects from Motion to Final Cut Pro X. But they are also useful in Motion, itself, to simplify the control set of a complex project. Instead of making changes by manipulating individual parameters in various Inspectors, you can modify the Motion project using just a few widgets in a single rig.

NOTE: A “widget” is a single control contained in a rig.

A rig is especially helpful when you need to share a complex project with multiple users or when the project is designed to be updated each time it’s used. For example, you can create a basic project for an animated lower-third title that incorporates two text objects and a background replicator.

Each time the project is used, the size and position of the lower third (a replicator in this example) must change to match the length of the text, and the color must cycle through your project’s color scheme. By adding a rig to the project, you can create a small set of controls that modify only the parameters such changes require.


To learn how to build a rig in Motion, open the Help files and search for “Build a Simple Rig?”

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… for Apple Motion

Tip #466: How to Display a Grid in Motion

The grid is a very useful tool for aligning elements.

The View menu from inside Apple Motion.

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Hidden in Motion is the ability to display a grid in the Viewer, which greatly simplifies aligning elements.

To reveal it, choose Grid from the View menu in the top right corner of the Canvas (Viewer).


To adjust grid spacing and color, go to Preferences > Canvas.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #467: Render Settings Improve CPU Performance

These render options allow us to avoid overloading the CPU.

Render options in the Render menu of the Canvas.

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(This is an excerpt from the Motion Help files.) Choose the render quality and resolution of the canvas display, and enable or disable features that can impact playback performance. When an option is active, a checkmark appears beside the menu item. If a complex project is causing your computer to play at a very low frame rate, you can make changes in this menu to reduce the strain on the processor.

The Render pop-up menu displays the following items:

  • Dynamic: Reduces the quality of the image displayed in the canvas during playback or scrubbing in the Timeline or mini-Timeline, allowing for faster feedback. Also reduces the quality of an image as it is modified in the canvas. When playback or scrubbing is stopped, or the modification is completed in the canvas, the image quality is restored (based on the Quality and Resolution settings for the project).
  • Full: Displays the canvas at full resolution (Shift-Q).
  • Half: Displays the canvas at half resolution.
  • Quarter: Displays the canvas at one-quarter resolution.
  • Draft: Renders objects in the canvas at a lower quality to allow optimal project interactivity. There’s no anti-aliasing.
  • Normal: Renders objects in the canvas at a medium quality. Shapes are anti-aliased, but 3D intersections are not. This is the default setting.
  • Best: Renders objects in the canvas at best quality, which includes higher-quality image resampling, anti-aliased intersections, anti-aliased particle edges, and sharper text.
  • Custom: Allows you to set additional controls to customize rendering quality. Choosing Custom opens the Advanced Quality Options dialog. For more information, see Advanced Quality settings.
  • Lighting: Turns the effect of lights in a project on or off. This setting does not turn off lights in the Layers list (or light scene icons), but it disables light shading effects in the canvas.
  • Shadows: Turns the effect of shadows in a project on or off.
  • Reflections: Turns the effect of reflections in a project on or off.
  • Depth of Field: Turns the effect of depth of field in a project on or off.
  • Motion Blur: Enables/disables the preview of motion blur in the canvas. Disabling motion blur may improve performance.

Note: When creating an effect, title, transition, or generator template for use in Final Cut Pro X, the Motion Blur item in the View pop-up menu controls whether motion blur is turned on when the project is applied in Final Cut Pro.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #448: How to Use LUTs in Motion

LUTs don’t require rendering, making them VERY fast!

The Filters menu in Apple Motion 5.x.

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This article is an excerpt from an Apple KnowledgeBase article.

The Custom LUT filter in Motion applies stylized film and video “looks” (such as Summer, Old Timey, Sci-Fi, and so on), camera LUTs, or tone mapping (to convert footage from one color space to another).

To use LUTs in Motion, add the Custom LUT filter to a layer in your project, import third-party LUTs into the filter, then choose the LUT you want to apply to your footage.

Stylized LUT effects are available from a variety of third-party sources. Camera LUTs, used to convert “flat” or “log” footage from high-end cameras to standard color spaces, are available from many camera manufacturers and other sources.

NOTE: Because Motion stores third-party LUTs externally (outside of Motion projects), it’s inadvisable to use LUTs in templates created for Final Cut Pro X.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #446: Move Text on a Path

Text can move around paths or shapes.

Text following a path in Apple Motion.

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This article is an excerpt from an Apple KnowledgeBase article.

The Path layout method lets you place text on a baseline path that you can warp to create curving or angular trails of text. After you create text on a path, you can modify or extend the path, add or remove control points, or animate text on the path.


  1. In Motion, select text in the canvas, Layers list, or Timeline.
  2. In the Layout pane of the Text Inspector, click the Layout Method pop-up menu, then choose Path.
    The Path Options controls become available, near the bottom of the Layout pane.
  3. In the canvas toolbar, select the Text tool (shortcut: T), then click the text in the canvas.

NOTE: Step 3 is important—the Text tool must be selected to view or edit the text path.

  • The path appears below the text. The default path shape is a straight line (an open spline) with three control points.

NOTE: To add a control point, Control-click the path and choose Add Point.

Read the rest of the article to learn how to adjust, extend or modify the path.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #447: Move Text Along an Unusual Path

Any shape can form a path for text to travel around the screen.

The Text Inspector in Apple Motion 5.x.
Change the Layout Method to Path, then lower down, change the Path Options.

Topic $TipTopic

This article is an excerpt from an Apple KnowledgeBase article.

Most of the time, we want text in Motion to travel in a straight line. But, when you want that text to take strange shapes, Motion makes it easy. Here’s how to use a shape as a path for text.

  1. In Motion, import or draw the shape you want to use as the path source.
  2. Select text in the Layers list, canvas, or Timeline.
  3. In the Layout pane of the Text Inspector, click the Layout Method pop-up menu, then choose Path.
  4. In the Path Options section of the Layout pane, click the Path Shape pop-up menu, then choose Geometry. The Shape Source well appears in the Inspector.
  5. From the Layers list, drag the shape into the Shape Source well.
  6. When the pointer becomes a curved arrow, release the mouse button.
  7. A thumbnail of the shape appears in the well and the shape is used as the source shape for the text path.

NOTE: You might want to disable (deselect) the original source shape in the Layers list so it’s not visible in your project.

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #298: 2 Tricks to Moving Clips

These two tricks save time when moving clips.

Swapping a clip from one location to another. The moved clip can be placed on any track.

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Once we have a rough cut complete, it is often necessary to move or replace clips in the timeline. Here are two tricks that make that easier.


To move a clip to a new position, press and hold both Command and Option. Drag the clip so the In of the clip you are moving is at its new location. While you would generally place it on the same track that it came from, you can actually place the swapped clip on any track.

As soon as you let go of the mouse, the clip shuttles into its new position and the clips to its right scurry down to fill the gap.


To replace a clip without losing any transitions or effects applied to it:

  • Select the clip in the timeline you want to replace
  • Drag the new clip from the Project panel on top of the existing clip while pressing Option (Alt).

… for Apple Motion

Tip #432: Create Your Own Templates in Motion

Templates allow you to speed repetitive tasks.

Templates are listed on the left side of the Project Browser in Motion.

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If you find yourself creating the same projects over and over in Motion, here’s fast way to create a template to speed your work.

When you are creating the same thing over and over, only to vary one small detail – for example, the text – a template can save you time and improve your accuracy.

Here are the steps:

  • Create a new Motion project (or open an old one).
  • Make all the changes you want, including adding all media, effects and text.
  • When it is done, choose File > Publish Template.
  • Give your template a name and, ideally, a new Category. In my screen shot, I created a category called “Larry” which is the location where I store all my unique templates.
  • If you want to use this template in Final Cut Pro X, also check Publish as Final Cut Generator.

Once you’ve created a template, it will always be available on the left side of the Project Browser when you first start Motion. Double-click it to open.


… for Apple Motion

Tip #433: Why Display Alpha Channels

The alpha channel displays the transparency in a clip.

The top image is in color, the lower image shows its transparency.

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One of the options in the top right corner of the Motion Viewer is the ability to display the alpha channel of the current project. (You’ll find it in the menu under the color square.) But, why would you need this?

The alpha channel, like the red, blue and green channels, displays the amount of transparency associated with each pixel. For instance, in this screen shot, does the gradient in the top, color, image fade to black or transparent? It’s impossible to tell.

However, when you look at the bottom image, which displays transparency, it is easy to see that the image fades from solid black (transparent) to solid white (opaque). (Shades of gray represent differing amounts of translucency.)

Remember, the alpha channel doesn’t show color, it shows transparency.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #434: Create Smoother Gradients in Apple Motion

The default gradient settings in Motion are not that good. These are better.

Changing Start and End to equal, but opposite, values creates a much smoother gradient.

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This tip was suggested by a comment from Mark Spencer to Tip #93.

In that original tip, I wrote that the gradients in Motion are not particularly smooth; rather, I recommended that you create smooth gradients in Photoshop, then import them into Motion. While this works, Mark pointed out that we can create much smoother gradients if we “play with the numbers.”

For instance, in this screen shot, I’ve created a gradient where the same color (lower blue bar) fades from transparent to fully opaque (top white bar).

The problem is that the default settings for a gradient create a very abrupt change.

To fix this:

  • Twirl down the small arrow to the left of the word “Gradient”
  • Change both the Start and End values to equal, but opposite, larger numbers.

For example, to create a smooth gradient that fills the frame, change Start to a positive value equal to 1/2 the horizontal width of your project and End to a negative value equal to 1/2 the width of your project. In this screen shot, I created a smooth gradient for a 1280 x 720 project. Half of 1280 is 640.