10 Tips For Motion 5

Here's a few tips to help Motion 5 users move through their work easily. Hope this helps a few of you out there. Enjoy!
10 Tips For Motion 5

Here's a few tips to help Motion 5 users move through their work easily. Hope this helps a few of you out there. Enjoy!

1- Performance Settings
At least 16 GB RAM, more the merrier, and the fastest secondary hard drive you can afford. Plus a kick-ass GPU, or two if they're identical. But baring hardware, when working on large (complex and or lengthy) projects, playback performance may suffer (but not anything near as bad as After Effects). To work around this, the first step is to go to the Render menu (top right of Canvas) and uncheck the things you don't seriously need at the moment: Lighting, Shadows, Reflection, Depth of Field, Motion Blur, Field Rendering, Frame Blending. That can help quite a bit.

After that, if you need more help, try setting the Resolution to Half or Quarter, and Quality to Normal or Draft. All of this can be overridden in the export window, or simply turned back on before exporting.

If you need to see playback at much better quality with all those options turned on, go to the Mark menu, at the bottom is a RAM Preview sub-menu. Render out what you need: the playback range, only the area of the timeline that contains a highlighted item(s), or the whole timeline. It may take a minute or a few, but you'll get better quality playback.

2- Enable Auto-Save
No app is 100% bullet proof, but Motion 5.2.3 with OS X 10.11.5 is about as stable as I've ever seen. To be safe I'd go into the Preferences, to the Cache section, and turn on the Auto Save Vault. Personally I set it to auto save every 5 minutes, keeping at most 12 copies, for a maximum of 5 projects.
All this boils down to is:
  • Motion will save a back-up copy of my project file, every 5 minutes. If I get stupid and add a bullet list that sucks and screw crap up, I only lose 5 minutes of work.
  • It will keep only the last 12 copies made, trashing anything older. Thus, if I have a crash, I lose only 1 hour of work at the WORST, and 5 minutes at best. Better than losing EVERYTHING.
  • And Motion keep these backup copies for only the last 5 projects opened AND edited. I mean, dude, I don't want to fill up my drive with Motion backups, right? Right on, Motion bro!
Also, I set it to save to Motion's default backup location on my system drive. That's cool for me, because it gets backed-up three times a day, giving me very reliable duplicates. But your situation may require different settings. So do the math, set up an auto backup scheme that works for your unique situation.

P.S. Do the same in Final Cut Pro X, and all your apps that have an auto backup!!!! Trust me, been there, and it's not a matter of "if", but "when it will save your ass meeting a client's unreasonable deadline!

3- Alpha Channels
If you need to export your project with an alpha channel (transparency), then first go to the Project layer, to the Inspector, to the Properties section. Set the Background parameter to Transparent. Then when you export your project, you'll need to select a codec that supports an alpha channel. The popular video codecs would be ProRes 4444 or ProRes 4444 HQ and QT Animation.

Other ProRes flavors, H.264, MPEG, and other codecs do NOT support alpha channels, so if you need one, stay away from these!

4- Manage Groups & Layers
A serious Motion project can get complex and unwieldy quickly. Group and layer management can go a long way to helping avoid those headaches. Take the time to name layers and groups with descriptive, yet short names to help you identify where you are, and what you need quickly and easily. Grouping like layers together helps a great deal, also. For example, place all text layers in a Text Group, all photos in a Photo Group. This isn't always as simplistic as that, so you'll have to adapt occasionally. But it is so very worth the effort in the long run.

Moving layers around can also be somewhat clumsy in Motion. I never click and drag for this, I use the keyboard. It is much faster, easier, and more precise. Select a layer, or group of layers, or heck, for that matter, a Group. Hold the Command key while using the [ and ] (left/right bracket) keys. The [ key moves the layer down, and the ] key moves the layer up.

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 3.39.05 PM

5- Layer Trimming With The Keyboard

Select a layer and use the following to trim it up. I and O will trim any selected layer (or layers) to the playhead. I of course trimming the In Point, O trimming the Out point. Use the Shift key with I and O to jump the playhead to the selected layer's In and Out points. With the Option and Command keys used together, the Play Range In and Out points are set. The Play Range is the area of your Timeline that the playhead will playback and loop inside of, and can be different from the physical start and end of your project's full timeline. Helpful when wanting to loop just a section of the Timeline you're tweaking, without bother with the rest.

6- Slip/Split Video and Audio (multi-frame) Layers
Just like in FCPX you have some editing trim tools for video layers in Motion. This is very little known, but very helpful. Most users know that you can simply click and drag the head and tail of a clip to trim its In and Out points (or use the keyboard as in Tip 5 above). You can also drag an item in the timeline to move it left and right, which is a Slide edit. But if you have a video or audio clip, that has been trimmed (has handles), hold the Option key while dragging left and right to perform a Slip edit.

If you wanted to insert media in the middle of other media, like a Wedge (insert) edit in FCPX, which will split the existing media, well, that can be done in Motion. Place the playhead where you want the split to happen. Go to the Edit menu, about half way down you'll see a Split command. This will "blade" any currently selected layers, and move the second half of them up to new layers. It adds a "1" to the end of the original layer name in the new layer.

I'll take this a step further, if you need to do splits often. Go to the Motion menu, to Commands, to Customize. Type "Split" in the upper right search field. It shows in the command list, click to highlight it. It has no keyboard shortcut, so if you simply hold the Option key, while hitting the S key, it will be assigned to Option-S (because by default Option-S is not assigned to anything). You'll be prompted to make a copy of the default command set, which you'll want to do. The default set can not be altered at all. Name your new set, and you're done.


7- Use Images For Drop Zones During Your Design Phase
This is more and more handy now that we're creating effects, titles, transitions and generators for FCPX inside of Motion. When you have a Drop Zone you're working with, place a video or image into it temporarily to help you visualize what is going on in your Motion project. Drag and drop the video or image from the Finder, or from the File Browser in the Inspector, onto the Drop Zone layer in the Layers pane. When you're done and want to remove it (don't save FCPX templates with media in them, unless you need that media to be fairly permanent), select the Drop Zone layer, go to the Image section of the Inspector, and at the bottom of that section is a button labeled "Clear". This will remove that media from the Drop Zone, and remove it from the project (Media tab) completely.

8- Modifying Keyframes In The Timeline
In Motion we work with keyframes A LOT! Getting precise timing can be crucial. So in the Timeline area, at the top right, are three buttons. The first is the Keyframe button, the next is the Snapping button, the third is the Zoom To Playback Area button. The Keyframe button turns on and off a neat feature. When on (blue) it will show keyframes for layers in the Timeline. You can then drag them left and right to change where they take effect in the Timeline. They appear as red diamonds, with a gray line between them. But more than than, if you right-click them, you get some cool options. First is the name of the parameter it represents. Chose that and you can type in a new numeric value right there in the Timeline. The other options show it in the Keyframe Editor, delete just that keyframe, or allow you to delete all keyframes in that layer.


9- Custom Size Drop Zones
Motion actually allows us to change the size of Drop Zones directly, although ratio changes a workaround. To change the size, with the Select tool (arrow, Shift-S) hold the Shift key while dragging one of the Zone's blue resizing buttons. Easy enough.

To change aspect ratio to ONLY a Drop Zone inside of your project, well, here's the workaround. Use Command-N to create a new Motion project. The Project Browser pops up. For the Preset option, select Custom, set the options, including resolution (size) and aspect ratio you need. Then click Open (bottom right). Create a new Drop Zone, which will be the resolution and aspect ratio of your new Project. Select the Layer in the Layers pane, copy it (Command-C). Switch to your original Motion project (hold Command while hitting the ~ key, to left of keyboard). Select the Group you want it to be in, and paste (Command-V). Move to be in the layer stack where you want it to be.

10- Background Task Management
Just like in FCPX, Motion has a little known Background Task List window. When an export is taking place, you'll see a spinning cog icon in the bottom left of the Canvas pane. Click it and the window pops up. Here you can track the progress of the export, or cancel it.