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Tip #1538: Working with PDFs in Motion

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Motion handles PDFs, but not well. Convert them to PNG first.

Topic $TipTopic

Motion handles PDFs differently from both Final Cut and Premiere. But, it still doesn’t handle them well.

Unlike Premiere, Motion supports importing a PDF.

Unlike Final Cut, it only imports the first page of a multiple page PDF. Worse, any white background is imported as transparent, which makes reading black text impossible.

Like Final Cut, though, Motion creates, essentially, a PNG of that first page of a PDF file that matches the size of your project. This means that if you scale the PNG, image quality quickly deteriorates.

Here are two workarounds that make using PDFs in a Motion project easier and with higher quality.

TWO WORKAROUNDS

If all you need to do is import the entire PDF page and fill all empty areas with white, use this workaround.

Workaround #1: Open the PDF in Preview, choose File > Export and set the export format to PNG. This exports the PDF at the size it was created and with a white background.

NOTE: Ignore the Resolution setting on export, even if you choose a higher number, the size and resolution of the exported image won’t change. I consider this a bug.

If you need to zoom into elements on the page – for example to provide closeups of an embedded image – this workaround is a better option:

Workaround #2: Open the file in Photoshop, or another image editing program. In the Page Options dialog (see screen shot) that appears: Set the Resolution to at least 400 Pixels/inch. This enlarges the image – while retaining image quality – so that you can easily zoom in or out of the PDF in the timeline.

EXTRA CREDIT

There are two types of PDFs: those that originated as bitmaps and those that originated as vectors.

Photos, scans and Photoshop documents will not scale very well, if at all. Text, Illustrator files or images created using musical notation should scale perfectly.


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Tip #1539: Quickly Fill a Shape with a Gradient

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Who Knew… um, that this would work?

A shape filled with a gradient.

Topic $TipTopic

Here’s a very fast way to fill a shape with a gradient in Apple Motion.

Add a Library shape to the Viewer. (In the screen shot, I used a diamond.)

Then, from Library > Gradients, drag the gradient you want on top of the shape in the Viewer.

NOTE: You could also drag and drop the gradient on top of the element name in the Layer’s panel.

Poof! Done.

EXTRA CREDIT

You can change the gradient colors by selecting the shape in the Layers panel, then using Inspector > Shape > Fill to change the gradient.

Cool.


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Tip #1540: Create Movement with a Zoom Blur

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Zoom blurs create the illusion of movement from a point.

Zoom blur settings (top) and the results applied to a diamond (bottom).

Topic $TipTopic

Here’s a fast way to make a still image – or other element – look like it’s moving: a Zoom Blur.

Filters > Blur > Zoom Blur creates the illusion of movement from a specific point. By default, this blur is located at the center of the frame.

However, as you can see from the screen shot, moving the Center of the Zoom blur to the edge of an object makes it look like the image itself is moving.

Apply the blur to an element, then:

  • Drag the white circle (the Center setting) to the edge you want to remain in focus.
  • Adjust Amount to vary the amount of the blur.
  • Be sure Crop is unchecked to allow the blur to extend past the boundaries of the element.
  • Tweak other settings and watch what happens.

Especially for elements that are moving around the frame, this increases the illusion of the speed of  the movement.


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Tip #1531: Motion Titles for FCP are More Than Text

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Title templates can contain anything a Motion project can – including video!

Title templates can contain text, shapes, gadgets, animations, even video. These are full Motion projects.

Topic $TipTopic

When you create a title template in Motion for use in either Motion or Final Cut, you are not limited to only using text. You can actually do far more. Anything you can put into a “normal” Motion project, you can put into a title. It’s just that the title is saved in the Titles browser for use in Final Cut as a template.

The screen shot illustrates a title containing:

  • Text
  • Spinning gadget
  • Animated shape using Behaviors
  • Gradient colors
  • A zoomed-back background video
  • Lighting using Spot and Point lights

Don’t get creatively trapped into thinking titles are only text.


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Tip #1532: Align: A Cool, Unused Behavior

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Align tracks an element closely or loosely with another element.

Behaviors > Basic Motion > Align settings (left), with the effect applied; along with the options in Align and To menus.

Topic $TipTopic

Align is one of those Basic Motion behaviors that you probably never use. Mostly, because Fade In/Out, Spin, Throw and Motion Path are more obvious and clearly useful.

But Align has some very cool traits. Align forces the element to which it is applied, to align itself with whatever element you drag into the “Object Well” (indicated by a blue bean in the screen shot).

We can align objects by:

  • Center
  • Anchor Point
  • Left edge
  • Right edge
  • Top edge
  • Bottom edge
  • Upper Left corner
  • Upper Right corner
  • Lower Left corner
  • Lower Right corner
  • And a custom setting

What makes this effect especially cool is when you apply animation – say a Throw behavior – to the object that is the focus of the alignment AND you change the Transition setting for Align to, say, “Ease In,” the Aligned object will slowly drift toward the focus, then follow after it as it moves.

The more you play with the Transition and Alignment settings, the more fun you’ll have in creating organic movements.

EXTRA CREDIT

Here’s an example. Let’s say you animate a logo to move across the screen. Using Align, you can have a flock of stars (each with the effect applied) slowly become attracted to the logo and travel with it as it moves.


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Tip #1533: Point At: A Little-Used Behavior

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Point At has one element point at another, no matter where each of them moves.

Behaviors > Basic Motion > Point At settings (top) and a red arrow “pointing at” the blue bean.

Topic $TipTopic

Point At is a Basic Motion behavior that you may not have used. Mostly, because Fade In/Out, Spin, Throw and Motion Path are more obvious and clearly useful.

But Point At does one thing none of these others do: it takes an element and points it at another element, no matter what each of them does in terms of movement.

For example, in the screen shot, the blue bean is moving across the frame from left to right. The red arrow is rising from bottom to top.

Using the settings in the Point At Inspector (top of screen shot) the red arrow will point at (track) the blue bean as both elements move around the frame.

Very cool!

EXTRA CREDIT

Imagine you have a product shot moving around the frame, with a cloud of arrows, or clapping hands, or exclamation points all moving around it randomly while at the same time pointing to the moving product shot. The Point At effect would be applied to all the objects that “point at” the product shot.


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Tip #1482: Don’t Get Lost in 3D Space

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

When you get lost in 3D space, choose Reset View.

Active Camera menu options, with Reset View used to restore the original view.

Topic $TipTopic

Once you add lights. cameras or sets to a Motion project, you move into 3D space. And that is a place where it is easy to get lost. Really, really lost.

Why? Because the background is black, the space is vast, we are moving in three dimensions, and there’s no floor.

NOTE: All three of these options change your view, but they don’t alter your Motion project.

To help you quickly get reoriented and find home, go to the Active Camera menu in the top left corner of the Canvas (Viewer).

  • Reset View (Shortcut: Control + R). This instantly brings you back to the 0,0,0 point. So, no matter how far you wander, you can always get home.
  • Fit Object into View (Shortcut: F). Select an element in the Layers pane. This option instantly fills the frame with the selected object. This is great way to quickly see small text or background elements.
  • Frame Object (Shortcut: Shift + Cmd + F). This rotates the selected element to the active camera’s point of view, centers it, then zooms until it fills the frame.

These options are even more useful when you are using other perspectives than Active Camera.

EXTRA CREDIT

Using Frame Object often means that you are seeing an element from a different perspective than the one displayed in the Active Camera menu.

Choose Reset View to get everything reset back to normal.


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Tip #1501: Get Rid of a White Background

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Removing a white background is easy, just hard to find.

Luma keyer settings (top), original image (lower left) and final.

Topic $TipTopic

Removing a white background in Motion is easy, but the settings are hard to find. This is one of those tips that, if you know it, seems easy. And, if you don’t, drives you nuts.

  • Import an element that has a white background into Motion and select it.
  • Apply Filters > Keying > Luma Keyer
  • Check the Invert checkbox to key on white (second red arrow).
  • Slide the top Luma slider to the right until the foreground is as solid as possible (top red arrow). Click the View > Matte icon to make sure the foreground is solid white.
  • To get rid of white edges, slide Matte Tools > Shrink/Expand to the right a pixel or two; I used 2.0 (bottom red arrow).

Done.


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Tip #1503: The Colorize Filter is an Essential Friend

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

The Colorize filter brings B&W graphics to life.

Colorize filter settings (top). (Bottom from left to right) Original image, replace white, replace black, replace both.

Topic $TipTopic

One of the more helpful tools in Apple Motion is the Colorize filter. This turns black-and-white graphics and into something MUCH more interesting.

Here’s how it works.

SETUP

  • Select the black-and-white graphic you what to change. (This will work with video, but it is designed for graphics.)
  • Apply Filters > Color > Colorize (screen shot top).
  • To change white to any color: Click the white color chip and change this to the color you prefer.
  • To change black to any color: Click the black color chip and change this to the color you prefer.
  • And, for those truly daring, change BOTH color chips to change both white and black.

EXTRA CREDIT

The screen shot illustrates all the different options. Also, you can use keyframes to animate the color selection over time.


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Tip #1463: Canvas View Options

 

My two favorite display options are: Active Camera and Top.

The Active Camera display options.

Topic $TipTopic Adding a light or camera to Motion also requires that you switch into 3D. When that happens, a new menu appears in the top left corner of the Canvas. Here’s what the options inside the Active Camera menu mean.

NOTE: These options change the Canvas display. They do not modify your project.

Quoting the Apple Help files:

When you choose Active Camera from the pop-up menu, the topmost camera in the Layers list at the current playhead position (in the Timeline) becomes the active camera. The active camera is the camera through which you view your project in the canvas. It’s also the camera view that’s rendered when you export your project. If a project contains only one scene camera (as shown above), two items appear at the top of this pop-up menu: Active Camera and Camera, which represent the same camera.

If a project contains more than one scene camera, all scene cameras appear at the top of the Camera pop-up menu, under the Active Camera item. To make a different scene camera the active camera, choose a different camera from the top section of the pop-up menu. (Scene cameras listed in this section of the Camera pop-up menu appear in the same order as they do in the Layers list.)


The middle section (Perspective) displays the scene from seven different orthagonal perspectives. These are easier to see in action than to describe.


The bottom section of the Camera pop-up menu allows access to five frequently used commands:

  • Reset View: Resets the camera view to its default orientation. (Control + R)
  • Select Active Camera: Selects the active camera in the project—the topmost camera in the Layers list that is visible at the current frame (when there are multiple cameras existing at the same frame in time). (Control + Option + C)
  • Fit Objects Into View: Reframes the current camera to fit the selected objects into the canvas. (F)
  • Frame Object: Frames the selected objects in the active view. If no objects are selected, Frame Object resets the reference camera to view all objects in the scene. (Shift + Command + F)
  • Focus On Object: Used when a camera has depth of field turned on. Adjusts the camera’s Focus Offset to the selected object. (Control + F)

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