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Apple Motion 1.0

Motion graphics and compositing system By Dave Nagel
Apple's Motion is probably the most highly anticipated motion graphics application of the last five years (at least)--a completely new tool that has an incredible amount of depth, along with an interface that simply has to be experienced to be believed, let alone appreciated. And at its modest price point of $299--less than the cost of many motion graphics plugins--it's easily within reach for most professionals working in this space.

I've been touting this software ever since I got my first peek at it back in April at the NAB convention and in subsequent demonstrations. It just seemed to flawless, so smooth, so feature-rich. There is, of course, a big difference between what a company chooses to demonstrate and what you yourself experience with any given piece of software. In the case of Motion, the difference is mainly in the software's favor, so much so that I'm a bit stymied as to how to review Motion and do it justice without spending the next six months locked up in my office with a feeding tube down my throat.

I suppose I should begin by addressing the one question everybody's been asking since April: "Is Motion better than (or a replacement for) Adobe After Effects?" Motion, after all, does compete squarely in the arena of motion graphics and compositing. But the answer isn't a simple one. First of all, Apple will be the first to tell you that Motion isn't designed to replace After Effects. If you use After Effects (or Discreet Combustion, for that matter), Motion is a fantastic adjunct that you might use for getting certain things done quickly, then bringing the results into whatever compositing tool you normally use. Motion does not have 3D layer support; it doesn't have a motion tracker; it doesn't have an equivalent to After Effects' Expressions; and it doesn't have its own set of painting tools. So, if any of these is a requirement for you, obviously Motion won't suffice as a replacement for your current tool. It's designed to be a complement to your toolchest, whether you're an editor working in Final Cut Pro who needs some motion graphics capabilities, a DVD author looking to expand your range of tools for the creation of motion menus or a full-fledged motion graphics artist who will recognize the superiority of Motion in some areas and be willing to shell out a moderate fee to take advantage of these capabilities.

But this is not to say at all that Motion is simply a "lite" version of any tool out there on the market. It's not. This is a powerful compositing and motion graphics package that has a more depth and power than other applications in some areas, and a much better workflow throughout than any motion graphics package I've ever experienced. (That's saying something.) It's also fast. And, as a little added bonus, it's a blast to use.

Workflow, interface, performance
The first time you see Motion, you'll be struck by its simplicity. You're presented with a file browser on the left, a comp browser on the right and a few controls on the top and bottom. So, in fact, at first glance, it doesn't look like it does a whole lot.

But this simplicity is deceptive. Tucked neatly out of sight initially are several additional workspace elements, including a layer palette, two media bins (audio and video), a keyframe editor, an audio editor, a library of tools and effects and an inspector--not to mention the persistent "Dashboard," which provides contextual access to common parameters.

There are several other configurations you can work in as well; and, like DVD Studio Pro, you can save your workspace configurations and recall them at will.

The interface itself is surprisingly intuitive, even for an Apple application. First off, it includes one of my favorite interface/workflow features: redundancy everywhere--keyboard shortcuts, menus, contextual menus, the Inspector and the Dashboard. If you can't find your way around this program, you have your eyes closed. And even then you're just not trying hard enough. The image below shows the ever-present Dashboard, revealing basic controls for a particle emitter in my project.

Click the little "i" button, and you're transported to the Inspector, where many more parameters are available, including the basics (transformation, blending and the like), as well as object-specific parameters. In the case of this particular emitter, this includes particle and emitter shape, particle birthrate, the base images used in the particles, etc.

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  • Apple Motion 1.0 by DMN Editorial at Aug. 24, 2004 4:05 pm gmt (Rec'd 6)

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