… 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.


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… 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 Visual Effects

Tip #572: Tips to Create Better Titles

“Less is More” and pay attention to brand guidelines.

A good title doesn’t have to be complex to be compelling.

Topic $TipTopic

This tip, written by Kevin Luiz, first appeared in RedSharkNews.com. This is a summary.

You don’t have to be a master motion graphics guru in order to create effective, and importantly, thematically relevant looking titles for your videos. Here’s how to approach graphical title design even if animation and typography isn’t your primary skillset.

When devising how you’d like to integrate type font, lower thirds and other graphic elements such as logo animations or plates, make sure to request the company’s brand guidelines. This may seem like a “duh” to most, but I can’t tell you how many editors I’ve come across who purposely ignore these sheets to impose their own stylistic agendas. As a general guideline, I’ll spend about an hour sifting through a client’s outlets to get a sense of style before I dig into graphical work.

Theory & Visual Motifs

The theory behind design and motion graphics is to enhance a brand or product and leverage these designs to present information not conveyed in the visual or audible language of film. These elements can also serve as thematic undertones to prop up and assist in the visual motif of your work.

Make It Your Own

When I create motion titles, I might find a piece of footage that has some dead space to the image on one side or the other. I’ll then title the film and position it in that dead space. This does three things; it conveys a piece of information, it adds balance to an image, and it pulls the viewer in as their attention is demanded scanning the image from left to right.

Jack of All Trades. Master of None

With all of these resources being so accessible, you don’t necessarily need to be a master level graphic designer to accomplish a polished “look”. However, I believe you do need to have a really deep understanding of the overall product you are trying to create as well as the information you must convey.

Motion graphics can be very powerful and, with a bit of taste, can really make your products feel like a completed package. In closing, everything in moderation, but don’t be afraid to add a flair of style to your work with some slick graphics if the product calls for it.

… for Visual Effects

Tip #573: Create a Speckled Light Effect – Cheap

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Dappled light makes portraits much more interesting.

A sample dappled light image, courtesy of PetaPixel.com.

Topic $TipTopic

This tip, written by Michael Zhang, first appeared in PetaPixel.com. This is a summary.

If you’re looking for at-home photo ideas, here’s an 18-minute behind-the-scenes video by photographer Irene Rudnyk showing how you can get dappled light for a portrait shoot with a small budget and studio space.

In searching for interesting lighting, Rudnyk stumbled across a tutorial by photographer Jake Hicks on emulating dappled light — like what you get through leaves on a sunny day — in the studio.

You’ll need to buy a set of glass blocks. These wave pattern glass blocks are commonly used for windows and walls in showers, bathrooms, and basements. They may cost around $4 each (or less if you find a deal or buy in bulk).

Watch the video here.

… for Visual Effects

Tip #579: What Do “Looks” Do?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Looks are designed for fast and easy color grading – and applied effects.

A Blue Steel look applied to a clip. (Image courtesy of Hallmark Broadcast Ltd.)

Topic $TipTopic

Looks are color-correction and effects presets that quickly change the look of a video clip to something different.

These exist in both Premiere (Lumetri > Color > Looks) and Final Cut (Effects Browser > Looks).

In Final Cut, these are some looks that purely affect the color (i.e. Film Noir), but the majority emphasize an effect more than a look (Rain, CamCorder, Aged Film). Final Cut is trying to help editors who know what they want, but don’t know how to achieve it, get the effect they need for their project.

In Premiere, looks are much more color oriented and there are far more of them, close to eighty, depending upon how you count. You select them from the Creative section of the Lumetri color panel. Premiere is trying to help solve sophisticated color grading challenges without understanding color.

The good thing about all of these looks is that there isn’t a whole lot to adjust. If you like the effect, use it. If not, you can try tweaking, but mostly you just delete it and try something different.

… 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 Visual Effects

Tip #551: 5 Easy In-Camera Effects

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Some very cool effects are very easy to do in-camera.

This is an example of forced perspective.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Ryan Connolly at Film Riot, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is an excerpt. Here are five easy in-camera effects you can do yourself.

1. Forced Perspective

Forced perspective is a technique that uses spacing and distance to make objects appear larger or smaller in relation to other objects.

2. Lower Shutter Speed

Using a lower shutter speed is generally done for two reasons. The first: because the location is dark and you need to let in more light. The second is to create motion blur to make the action seem more fluid.

3. Faster Shutter Speed

A faster shutter speed is utilized extensively by professional sport filmmakers. Because of the high shutter speed, you can essentially “freeze” a moment. When using this in conjunction with camera movement, the action seemingly becomes more violent. This technique works great in combat sequences.

4. Lens Whacking

Lens whacking is done by detaching the lens from the mount and then holding it close enough to allow the sensor to still gain an image. The result is very surreal and ethereal.

5. Lens Flare

Lens flare is the natural effect of non-image forming light entering the lens and hitting the sensor, creating the characteristic streak of light.


Visit the link at the top of this tip to see a video illustrating all these techniques.

… for Visual Effects

Tip #509: How to Create Line Boil Animation

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Line Boil used to be considered a mistake. Now, it’s a way to add life to animation.

Topic $TipTopic

The PremiumBeat folks posted a YouTube video illustrating how to create a line boil animation.

“Line boil” animation is where lines in an animated figure shiver, or “boil,”” as though every frame was drawn by hand. It gives life and energy to a line drawing by emphasizing rough edges.

Here are the steps:

  • Using any drawing tool you prefer, create an original image. Line drawings of geometric shapes work best.
  • Trace the original image by hand, or mouse, create 4 or 5 new images – either as layers or separate images, depending upon the software you are using.

NOTE: It is important that these different iterations not look the same. It’s the variations between them that adds life to the animation.

  • Loop playback of these frames and watch your simple line drawing come to life.


Watch the video linked above to see an illustration of this technique.

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #492: Creative Truths From Real Editors

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Topic $TipTopic

For several years, I ran the “Creative Truths Contest.” This invited readers to send in aphorisms that best represent the editing process. As you might imagine, editors took a pretty dim view of, well, just about everything.

Here are five of my favorites, along with the name of the editor that contributed it to the contest.

    • No one knows what you do but they always know that “it won’t take long.” (Jeff Fulton )


    • Every new technology opens a whole new world of things that can go wrong. (Will Schwarz)


    • As a dedicated production professional, I sit in dark places and wait for bad things to happen. (Mark Triplett)


    • Got a client you haven’t heard from in months or a year? Erase their old project files and media, and you are guaranteed a phone call or email from them within 24 hours, wanting a re-edit. (Mark Suszko)


  • Needed Lead EDITOR: Must have at least 5 years of experience. No out of college applicants will be excepted. Must be expert in Adobe Premier, Photoshop, and After Effects. We will ONLY look at candidates that are capable of shooting with a pro camera, setting up lighting, and recording live audio. You must have a deep understanding in DaVinci Resolve and Cinema 4D. This is an ENTRY LEVEL POSITION. (Hector Pina)


Here’s a link to read more.