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Tip #804: The Secret Identity of a Drop Zone

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Drop zones are used for both image manipulation and transitions.

The Drop Zone Type menu in Motion 5.

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Drop zones are objects created in Motion that allow us to include video when using a Motion template in Final Cut. However, there’s more to drop zones than first meets the eye.

To add a drop zone to a Motion project, choose Object > New Drop Zone (Shortcut: Shift + Cmd + D).

Next, select the drop zone in the Layers pane and go to Inspector > Image.

Notice, as you can see in the screen shot, that a drop zone is considered an Image. What you may not know, however, is that you can select between three different states for a drop zone:

  • Drop zone. Displays video added to the template from Final Cut.
  • Transition A. Displays the end of the out-going clip when added as a transition in Final Cut.
  • Transition B. Displays the start of the in-coming clip when added as a transition in Final Cut.

Converting a drop zone to a transition image gives you more flexility in designing templates and transitions. However, you can only have one Transition A and one Transition B drop zone per project. (Sigh… it would be cool if we could clone them.)


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Tip #805: Control the Shape of Path Curves

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Curves are shaped by the white Bezier control handles revealed by the Edit Points tool.

Unlinked Bezier control handles changing the shape and smoothness of a curve.

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Using either the Pen or Paint Brush tools, we can create paths in Motion. The Pen tool creates a path, while the Paint Brush tool creates a path then decorates it with a shape style.

The trick, as with all path tools, is in how you create corners. When using the Pen tool to create a path, click to create a corner, or click and drag to create a curve. However, what happens if you don’t like the shape of the curve? Change to the Edit Points tool, then Control-click on a corner dot in the path.

This displays a menu allowing you to convert a corner to a smooth curve, or a smooth curve back to a corner.

When a corner is converted to a smooth curve, two white lines appear with a dot at each end. These are called “Bezier control handles.”

Drag the dots closer together to change the smoothness of the curve. Change the angle to change the shape of the curve.

EXTRA CREDIT

  • Press Option and drag to just change one dot. This also disconnects (“Breaks”) the two dots even when you no longer press the Option key.
  • Press Shift to constrain the movement of a dot.
  • Control-click a white dot to Link or break a dot, as well as align the two dots back into a straight line.

Watch how the curve changes as you adjust each dot by itself.


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Tip #806: Adjust Projects with Project Properties

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Every project setting can be adjusted after you start, except for frame rate.

The Project Properties pane in Apple Motion. Frame rate can only be adjusted for empty projects.

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Once you’ve created a Motion project, you can always go back and adjust its basic settings. Except… Well, let me illustrate.

Select the Project in the Layers panel.

Then, go to Inspector > Properties.

This is where you can change frame size, duration, and other settings.

NOTE: Keep in mind that you can only change frame rate in an empty project. Once even one element is added, frame rate is locked.

EXTRA CREDIT

Changing the duration does not extend or contract the timing of any elements. This is a good reason to set the duration before you start creating a project.

Also, when you change the duration, Motion sets an In and Out to match the duration of the original project. This means that you will need to remove these marks, as well as manually adjust the timing of any clips that need to extend beyond the original duration.


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Tip #793: What Is a “Light Setup”?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Light Setups provide a variety of placed and pre-aimed lights to shape 3D text.

A “Drama Top Right” light setup, with blue and purple colors added to the lights.

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An element in the Object menu is “Light Setup.” What are these and how do we use them? A Light Setup is like having your own lighting grid and instruments that you can hang around any 3D object in Motion. Most of the time, this means 3D text.

In the screen shot, I created a 3D text clip, then applied grayish textures to the letters. In this case, I used Concrete > Sidewalk for the front and Plaster > Eggshell Plaster for the sides. (Using gray textures allows the greatest freedom in applying color using light.)

Next, in Inspector > Text > Lighting, I changed Lighting Style between different setups to see which one I liked the best.

For my example, given the shape and angle of the text, Drama Top Right worked great.

Finally, I selected each individual light in the Layers panel and changed color and intensity using Inspector > Light > Light Controls.

EXTRA CREDIT

Switching the light from Directional to Spot provides even greater control over fall-off and shading.

This is an effect you can play with forever, just like real lights, to get exactly the look you need.


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Tip #794: The Texture Adjuster

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

3D text provides a wealth of lighting, texture and format controls.

3D text, using the Drama Top Right light setup and customized texture.

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Hidden at the bottom of the Material section for 3D text – below where you select surfaces – are additional controls that allow changing the texture of each surface.

These controls vary depending upon which surface is selected. For instance, with Plaster, you can adjust:

  • Color type
  • Paint color
  • Sheen (reflectivity)
  • Surface texture
  • Texture depth
  • Opacity
  • Placement

One of the benefits to working with 3D text is the vast amount of control we have over the texture and lighting of the text.

If you haven’t explored these options yet, when you do you’ll discover a whole lot more texture control than you ever expected.


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Tip #795: Rotate Text in 3D

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

3D Text can rotate and cast shadows on the text next to it.

3D Text with custom lighting, where each character is rotated invidually and casting shadows.

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A hidden feature in Motion is the ability to rotate individual letters of 3D text. Here’s how.

We use Inspector > Properties to rotate the entire text element.

However, if you select the 3D text in the Layers panel, then go to Inspector > Text > Advanced and adjust Rotation, yo


… for Apple Motion

Tip #795: Rotate Text in 3D

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

3D Text can rotate and cast shadows on the text next to it.

3D Text with custom lighting, where each character is rotated invidually and casting shadows.

Topic $TipTopic

A hidden feature in Motion is the ability to rotate individual letters of 3D text. Here’s how.

We use Inspector > Properties to rotate the entire text element.

However, if you select the 3D text in the Layers panel, then go to Inspector > Text > Advanced and adjust Rotation, you can rotate each individual text character.

Not only does this give your text a different look, it also changes how it responds to different lighting directions. Plus, each letter can cast a shadow on the text next to it, adding depth and interest.

EXTRA CREDIT

To turn shadows off, select the text layer, then go to Inspector > Properties > Shadows and turn off Cast Shadows.


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Tip #776: Copy & Paste Into a Region in Motion

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

We can select a region in the timeline, then copy and paste into it.

A region (lighter color) selected in the timeline.

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In Motion, we can make changes to a range of frames, known as a region. For example, you can cut or copy a section of time to remove it from your project completely, or just move it to a new position in Timeline. Regions need not align with object edges in the Timeline—you can create a region that begins midway through an object.

You can also paste objects into a defined region using the Paste Special command, which lets you insert, overwrite, or exchange objects in the Timeline. Additionally, you select a region and insert blank frames, creating an empty placeholder for a clip you don’t yet have.

Here’s how to paste into a selected region:

  1. In Motion, select an object.
  2. Press Cmd + C to copy or Command-X to cut your selection.
  3. Press and hold the Command and Option keys, drag in the timeline ruler to select a region.
  4. Choose Edit > Paste Special.
  5. The Paste Special dialog appears.
  6. Select “Insert into time region” or “Overwrite into time region,” then click OK.

The Clipboard contents are pasted into the region using the method you specified.

NOTE: This requires selecting a region in the Timeline, not the mini-timeline.

EXTRA CREDIT

Here’s an Apple Support page with more options about working with regions.


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Tip #777: Keyframes vs. Behaviors

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Use Keyframes for precise control over specific parameters.

Keyframes illustrated in the Motion Timeline.

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When should you use keyframes instead of Behaviors? This Apple KnowledgeBase post has the answer.

As an alternative to animating with behaviors, you can animate most text parameters using keyframes. The text animation method you use (keyframing or behaviors) depends on your project, or more specifically, your timing needs:

  • Use keyframes if you need an action to happen at a specific point in time in your project. For example, if you want text to be completely transparent at frame 1, become completely opaque at frame 60, become transparent again at frame 90, and opaque again at frame 120, use keyframing. Keyframes apply specific values to an object’s parameters at specific frames.
  • Use behaviors if the timing of the animation doesn’t need to be precise. For example, if you want the text to be completely transparent at frame 1, become opaque over frames 60–90, and become transparent by frame 120, use the Fade In/Fade Out behavior. Behaviors generate a range of values that are applied to an object’s parameters.

You can combine keyframing and behaviors to animate any object in Motion. For example, if you keyframe text opacity, you can then apply the Tracking behavior to animate text tracking, or you can keyframe the Tracking parameter. However, if you keyframe the text Opacity parameter and then apply a Fade In/Fade Out behavior to the text, unexpected results may occur.


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Tip #775: Examine and Alter Media Clip Properties

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Inspector > Media changes the character of the media itself.

The Inspector > Media pane for a selected clip in Apple Motion.

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Have you ever selected a clip in Motion, then looked at the source media controls in the Inspector? Yeah, me neither. But there’s some cool stuff there. Take a look.

To show this pane:

  • Click Media in the Project pane.
  • Select the clip you want to review.
  • Open Inspector > Media (see screen shot).

This pane allows you to change:

  • Alpha (transparency)
  • Color space
  • Pixel aspect ratio
  • Field order (interlacing)
  • Frame rate
  • And more…

EXTRA CREDIT

Here’s an Apple Support page with more details.