… for Apple Motion

Tip #820: Weird Fun with Bulges

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Animated text as something moves behind it creates a funny and unusual look.

(Footage courtesy of Jim Walker and Lobsters Gone Wild Productions.)
The Bulge behavior animates as the shark’s fin swims behind it.

Topic $TipTopic

OK. This has no social redeeming quality whatsoever, but it made me laugh. Here’s a cool trick using the Bulge filter.

  • Place some text, in my example I used the word “Shark,” on top of a clip that has things moving through it; a shark’s fin in my example.
  • Apply Filters > Distort > Bulge.
  • Drag the circle that surrounds Bulge in the Viewer to get the shape and position you want.
  • Go to Inspector > Filters > Bulge and adjust settings as you see fit.
  • Then, keyframe the Center parameter so that the Bulge moves as something moves behind it; the shark’s fin in my example.

NOTE: Be sure to start and end with no bulge for best results. You do this by dragging the Bulge Center off to one side or the other.

EXTRA CREDIT

Experiment with different blend modes for the text to see if it improves the look for the clips you are using.


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… for Apple Motion

Tip #822: Photoshop-like Image Control – in Motion

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

The Levels filter performs the same function as in Photoshop – but the pixel display is not as good.

The Levels filter, with settings applied to a clip.

Topic $TipTopic

Hidden deep within Motion is an image tool that would feel comfortable to most Photoshop users: Levels. Here’s where to find it.

The Levels filter provides separate control over grayscale shadows, midtones, and highlights in an image.

To apply it:

  • Select the layer with the clip you want to adjust.
  • Choose Filters > Color > Levels to apply it to the selected clip.
  • Go to Inspector > Filters. Adjust the left (black) pointer just below the gray box to adjust shadow levels. Move the middle (gray) pointer to adjust midtones. Then slide the right pointer to adjust highlights.

Unlike Photoshop, the range of pixels is not well-displayed, so this will be less accurate than adjusting the same filter in Photoshop. Still, the operation is the same.

EXTRA CREDIT

While the middle sliders expand shadow and highlights, while adjusting midtones, the two sliders at the bottom contract grayscale values. While useful, you’ll find yourself moving the three in the middle more.


… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #816: A Baker’s Dozen Better Shortcuts

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

If I were to pick my favorite shortcuts, these are probably it.

Topic $TipTopic

When you start doing the same tasks over and over, keyboard shortcuts can make you more efficient. Here are the keyboard shortcuts I use everyday when editing in Final Cut:

  • Control + Cmd + 1 — Toggle Library and Browser display on/off.
  • Cmd + 4 — Toggle the Inspector open or closed
  • Shift + Z — Fit image into Viewer or project into Timeline.
  • Cmd + 7 — Show/Hide video scopes.
  • Shift + I / O — Jump the playhead to the In / Out.
  • Option + X — Delete both the marked In and Out.
  • V — Toggle clip visibility off or on.
  • E — Perform a standard append edit into the Primary Storyline at the end of the timeline.
  • W — Perform a standard insert edit at the position of the skimmer/playhead.
  • D — Perform an overwrite edit into the Primary Storyline at the position of the playhead.
  • Option + W — Insert a gap into the Timeline at the position of the skimmer/playhead.
  • Cmd + B — Cut all selected clip(s) at the position of the skimmer/playhead.

BONUS

  • Shift + comma/period — Move selected edit point or connected clip ten frames left/right.
  • S — Toggle skimming on or off.
  • F — Flag a clip or clip range as a Favorite.

… for Apple Motion

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.

Topic $TipTopic

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.)


… for Apple Motion

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.

Topic $TipTopic

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.


… for Apple Motion

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.

Topic $TipTopic

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.


… 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.


… for Apple Motion

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.

Topic $TipTopic

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.


… for Apple Motion

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.

Topic $TipTopic

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.


… 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, yo