Getting to Grips with Motion part 1 The basic interface

Apple’s motion graphic software Motion is a very powerful and surprisingly easy to use application for anyone looking to create graphics, titles and effects either as part of the Final Cut Pro workflow or as stand alone video clips, backgrounds etc.

This series of blog posts are designed to get you trying Motion for yourself, whether your a total beginner in Motion Graphic Design and are attracted to Motions very low price. Or a seasoned user of After Effects and want to see what else is out there.

Lets start out by looking at the user interface, and how to get around.

1. File Browser (press COMMAND-1)

The File Browser is a navigation window that allows you to search your Hard Drive, Peripheral Drives, Networks and Folders. Navigation is folder based in tiers, starting at drives, then users and locations and then folders.

The File Browsers content can be viewed as either a list of items or a grid of Thumbnails, depending on your need at the time.

Selecting a media asset in the File Browser loads a preview into the viewer at the top of the Browser, as well as displaying key Metadata.

2. Library (press COMMAND-2)

The Library shares a window with the File Browser, so only one can be visible at a time.

The Library contains all the content within and created by Motion. It consists of a series of folders (though Graphically individual) Each folder contains a list of themed sub-folders that hold various content and assets to be used in your projects.

The explanation and use of these categories will come in later blogs, needless to say titles like Fonts, Shapes and Gradients are self-explanatory.

3. Inspector (press COMMAND-3)

The Inspector is where the real work begins. Initially it will be empty, but once content starts to appear in a project it will hold all the editable information and properties for each and every element.

The Inspector is broken down into 4 sections.

Properties (press F1): This window contains all the available properties of an object, such as Position, Scale, Opacity etc.

Behaviors (press F2): Any Behaviors applied to objects and layers for instance; Fade in and out, can be controlled from this window.

Filters (press F3): Filters that are added to clips, such as Blur are controlled here.

Object (press F4): The Object window is a contextual one. It will change to contain properties specific to what you are working with at the time, such as Text or a Gradient.

4. Project Window (press COMMAND-4)

The Project Window contains your projects Layers. Layers allow content, effects, behaviours etc to be arranged, activated and selected.

5. Video Timeline (press COMMAND-7)

The Video Timeline is not usually visible while you are working on a project, but rather is activated when required, then de-activated when done.

The Video Timeline works like any other video timeline, and shows the length and position of all layers at the same time.

6. HUD: Head Up Display (press F7)

The HUD is a free floating display that contains a shortcut to the key properties of any selected object or layer in the project. It is optional but can be a lot handier than always switching between the Inspectors windows.

7. Canvas

The Canvas is always visible, and so has no shortcut to activate it. The Canvas window is where your project can be viewed.

CONTROL-COMMAND-F will switch the Canvas to Full Screen.

8. Tools

If your an FCPX user the Toolbar will look very familiar in layout. Here tools are available any time as you work on your project. These include tools for adding Text, Shapes, Masks etc.

OK so thats the whistle stop tour. Try activating and de-activating all the windows using the shortcuts indicated. You will need to be familiar with this workflow when you start reading other blogs in this series.