… for Apple Motion

Tip #581: Create Colorful Lighting for 3D Text

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Colorful lighting is one menu choice away, and you can customize it to suit.

A sample lighting effect and the settings that created the colors.

Topic $TipTopic

There’s a hidden lighting secret in Motion for 3D text that is worth learning: colored light! At the top of the screen shot is an example of lighting 3D text with colored light. Here’s how to create it:

  • Create any 3D text.
  • Select the text in the Layers panel.
  • Go to Inspector > Text > Appearance, then twirl down Lighting and enable Environments.
  • Show the contents of Environments by clicking the word Show to the right of the word “Environments.”
  • Change Type from Field to Colorful.
  • Change the Rotation to pick out the colors you like.
  • For more control, twirl down Rotation and modify each of the axes. The effect changes with each. I’ve found that changing X rotation creates some very dramatic underlighting.

When you get the look you want, ah, stop tweaking. The screen shot shows the settings I used to create the lighting effect at the top.


Please rate the helpfulness of this tip.

Click on a star to rate it!

… for Apple Motion

Tip #582: Make a Better Background

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Backgrounds, to be useful, need to be slow, dark and soft.

The Goo background before (top) and after (bottom) after effects are applied.

Topic $TipTopic

The problem I have with most of Apple’s default backgrounds is that they are too BRIGHT and too in-focus for text. Well, yeah, they are too busy, too.

Fortunately, this is easy to fix. Here are some ideas to try when you need to bring a background back under control. I’m going to work with Library > Content > Backgrounds > Goo, but you can pick anything.

  • It’s moving too fast. Select the Clouds layer inside Goo, then go to Inspector > Generator and change Speed to 0.07.
  • All the edges are waaay too sharp. This is because this effect is simply the Cloud generator with a Posterize filter applied. Select the Goo layer, apply Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur and, in the Inspector, manually type in an Amount of 150.

NOTE: If you try to use the slider, it will stop at 64. Manually typing in numbers allows you to enter much larger values for almost every parameter.

  • It’s also too bright, so, with the Goo layer selected, apply Filter > Color > Levels and make sure it is placed below Gaussian Blur in the Layers panel. Adjust the mid-tone slider so that the background gets as dark as you need. If there’s a lot of light shades, pull down the highlights a bit, too.

NOTE: You could do something similar by adjusting Opacity, but that actually makes the background transparent. Levels makes it darker without adding transparency.

As with all effects, adjust the settings until you are happy. In the screen shot, the top image is “before,” the bottom image is “after.”

… for Apple Motion

Tip #571: Useful Motion Keyboard Shortcuts

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

300+ shortcuts organized and ready for you.

Topic $TipTopic

The folks at ShortCutWorld.com have compiled a list of 300+ keyboard shortcuts for Apple Motion and grouped them into 29 categories!

This is the most extensive list of shortcuts for Motion that I’ve seen in a long while.

Here’s the link.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #537: Add Curves to Keyframes

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Right-click any keyframe to reveal playback options.

Right-click a keyframe to display a hidden menu of keyframe options.

Topic $TipTopic

Apple Motion keyframes have a lot of flexibility in their playback options, if you know where to look. Here’s a quick tip to discover the secret.

When you apply keyframes to a clip, they will appear in the Keyframe section of the timeline, in the lower right portion of the interface.

NOTE: To display or hide the Keyframe Editor, type Cmd + 8.

Right-click (or Control-click) any keyframe to reveal a hidden menu.

Some of these options are:

  • Ease In slows movement going into a keyframe.
  • Ease Out slows movements leaving a keyframe
  • Ease Both accelerates and decelerates movement.
  • To change the shape of a curve, drag the white dot – called a “Bezier control point.”
  • Lock prevents a keyframe from being changed.
  • Disable turns off a keyframe, without removing it.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #550: Find Animated Settings in Motion – Fast!

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

This menu is located in the top left corner of the Keyframe Editor.

The Curve menu in the top left corner of the Keyframe Editor. The pop-up menu is outlined in white.

Topic $TipTopic

As projects get more complex, tracking which elements are animated and how they are animated gets tricky. Fortunately, Motion has a menu option that quickly allows you to see any modified settings or keyframes applied to a selected element.

With your project open, display the Keyframe Editor (shortcut: Cmd + 8). Next, select the element with the settings you want to review.

Then, in the top left corner, click the Animated menu. Here, you have several options:

  • All. Shows all settings for the selected element, whether modified or note.
  • Animated. Settings which have keyframes applied.
  • Modified. Setting which were changed from their defaults, whether or not keyframes were applied.

Other options limit the settings that are displayed to minimize visual clutter.


Tip #555 illustrates how to create custom curve sets, so you see exactly the settings you need.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #555: Create Custom Curve Sets in Motion

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Custom Curve Sets allow us to see just the parameters we want.

A Custom Curve Set, showing parameter settings for Position, Scale and Opacity.

Topic $TipTopic

This tip originally appeared as an Apple KnowledgeBase article. This is an excerpt. In Tip #550, we illustrated how to access the default curve set in Apple Motion to see which settings have been modified or animated. However, we can also create our own custom curve set.

In the screen shot, I created a new curve set, then added Position, Scale and Opacity settings to it. This allows me to see just the changes to those key settings for the selected elements for the duration of the Motion project.

In addition to using the built-in curve set views, you can make and manage your own view using the last two options in the Show Curve Set pop-up menu: New Curve Set and Manage Curve Sets. As you create and store custom parameter sets, they appear in the Show Curve Set pop-up menu (at the top of the parameter list in the Keyframe Editor), allowing you to switch between them. Deleting, duplicating, and modifying custom sets is done in the Manage Curve Sets dialog (accessible from the Show Curve Set pop-up menu).

To create a custom curve set:

  • In the Keyframe Editor in Motion, click the Show Curve Set pop-up menu, then choose New Curve Set.
  • In the dialog that appears, enter a name for the set, then click OK.
  • After you create a curve set, you can choose it from the Show Curve Set pop-up menu.

To add parameters to a custom curve set do one of the following:

  • After you create a custom curve set, drag a parameter name from any pane in the Inspector into the Keyframe Editor parameter list.
  • In the Inspector, click the Animation menu for the parameter, then choose Show in Keyframe Editor.
  • The Animation menu (a down arrow) remains hidden until you position the pointer over the far-right side of the parameter row you want to modify.
  • The parameter is added to the custom curve set.

To remove a parameter, drag it out of the list.


To delete, duplicate or manage the display order of custom curve sets, select Manage Curve Sets from the Cuve menu.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #522: The Missing Motion Shortcut

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Switch sets or create your own shortcuts to fix this problem.

Change keyboard shortcuts by switching sets in the Motion menu.

Topic $TipTopic

Of all the keyboard shortcuts that have ever existed in the history of the world, NONE have bothered me more than these two in Motion:

  • A enables automatic keyframe creation
  • Shift + S selects the Arrow tool

This shortcut combination has destroyed more student work than any other single thing I know; as well as countless projects of my own.

However, there’s hope!

While the current version of Motion supports changing keyboard shortcuts, there’s an even better solution: Changing shortcut command sets from Standard Set to Final Cut Pro Set. This resets the Arrow tool shortcut to A.

Go to Motion > Commands and switch sets:

  • The Arrow tool is now: A
  • The automatic Record Animation shortcut is now: Control + Option + Shift + Command + A


… for Apple Motion

Tip #536: Add an Audio Fade in Apple Motion

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Keep all your audio work very, very simple in Motion.

Select the audio clip in the Audio panel, then apply and adjust effects.

Topic $TipTopic

Apple Motion really doesn’t like audio. A good operating rule is: Only import final mixes into Motion. Don’t try to do a mix in Motion itself; it will drive you nuts.

However, sometimes you still need to add a fade. Here’s how.

  • Import the audio clip you need.
  • Select Layers > Audio to display the clip. (It’s actually called the Project Panel, but no one remembers that.)
  • Select the clip in the Audio panel.
  • Apply Behaviors > Audio > Fade In/Fade Out.
  • Display the HUD and adjust the open and closing fade durations.
  • Just as with any other effect, adjust the timing using the Mini-Timeline.


If you hear an audio pop at the end, trim the audio clip to end one frame before the fade ends. That pop should not be there, but Apple has never gotten around to fixing it.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #538: What Does “Four Corner” Do?

The “Four Corner” setting determines image distortion.

The Four Corner settings (top) determine image distortion (bottom).

Topic $TipTopic

When you select an object in Motion, one of the adjustments you can make is Four Corner. Inspector > Properties > Four Corner allows you to distort whatever you have selected. Here’s how it works.

When you adjust Inspector > Properties > Position, you can modify the position of the frame containing whatever you have selected.

However, when you adjust Inspector > Properties > Four Corner, you can distort the object itself, as illustrated in this screen shot.

Four Corner also provides separate control over the horizontal and vertical position of each corner.


Keep in mind that all these distortion settings can be keyframed to animate a shape over time.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #526: Top and Tail Trimming

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

High-speed Trims!

Use the Range tool to trim both top and tail at the same time.

Topic $TipTopic

It seems I’ve gotten lazy and always trim my clips by dragging the In or the Out. However, there is a much faster way to trim the top or tail of a clip:

  • Put the playhead where you want to move the In and type: Option + [
  • Put the playhead where you want to move the Out and type: Option + ]
  • Using the Range tool (or set an In and Out) trim to the selected range, type: Option +

High-speed trims!


You can use the Skimmer instead of the playhead, but I’ve found the playhead to be better for trimming because it is less easy to jiggle out of position.