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Creating Generators for Apple Motion

Modifying presets to create new, reusable content By Dave Nagel
You don't see too much discussion about Generators in Apple Motion. But Generators provide simple, effective means for creating content to use in conjunction with your footage and filters for producing a wide range of effects. What's more, Generators can be fully customized, so that you can use existing ones to produce your own reusable content.

Before we get started with this tutorial, if you're not already familiar with many of the concepts in Motion--particularly working with filters and behaviors--you should take a look through our previous Motion walkthroughs. Below you'll find links to all of our previous tutorials on Motion.

? An Introduction to Motion
? Working with Behaviors
? Working with Particles
? More on Particles
? Project: Blowing up Objects
? Filter Duration
? Compositing a Flood Effect

Each of these will help provide you with an understanding of some of the principles involved in today's lesson.

For our experimentation this time around, we'll use one of the Generators supplied with Motion called "Clouds." If you don't have this Generator in your system, you can download it for free from Apple's site by going to http://www.apple.com/motion/download/, creating an Apple ID and entering your serial number. Alternately, if you don't want to go to the hassle, you can download my modified version of a Clouds Generator by clicking the following link:

Download: NagelClouds.zip Generator (4 KB)

The possibilities for the ways in which you can tweak Generators are virtually limitless. But for our example today, we'll be working toward creating a video breakup/interference effect, which will look something like this when composited over footage.



This isn't nearly all you can do with Generators, but this technique should provide you with some good, general concepts to get you started on modifying and creating your own Generators.

Setting up the Generator
Once you've downloaded the Generator of your choice, install it, and it will appear in your Library tab under the Generators category.



Apply this Generator to your project by dragging it from the library onto your Layers palette or your canvas. Then go into the Inspector palette and change around some of the Generator parameters. Set the Scale down to 8; crank the speed up to 2; and change the gradient to the "Rainbow" preset.



And that's it for the basic setup.


Adding effects
Now we want to tweak this Generator pretty heavily, so we're going to add several filter effects to it. These include Stripes, Bloom, Line Screen and Colorize, in that order. All of these filters can be found in your Library palette in the FIlters category. They're all supplied as part of the basic Motion package. Apply them by simply dragging them from the Library palette and dropping them on top of your Clouds Generator in the Layers palette.



Things probably aren't looking too good for you just yet. We need to go in and make some tweaks to our filters. So click once again on the Inspector palette, and go to the Filters tab. Here you'll see all of the current filters listed. For the Stripes filter, change the Angle to 90 degrees to create horizontal stripes.





For Bloom, use the settings listed below.





For Line Screen, you'll want to adjust the Angle to 90 degrees and crank the Scale down to 1. This won't look too impressive, but we'll be doing more to it in the next section.





Finally, for the Colorize filter, you'll want to remap white to another color. We'll be randomizing these colors later on to get a more varied effect. Here are the colors I'm starting with.





Adding behaviors
Now, if you hit the Play button, you'll see that not a whole lot is going on. But you should have something that would be useable on a future project that might require a less intense video breakup effect.



But we want to make our effect to be more sever and also to have more variation. In order to do this, we're going to add some behaviors to our Generator. Actually, we're going to add one behavior several times: Randomize.

behaviors are located in the Library palette under the behaviors category. In there, select the Randomize, and then drag it to your Layers palette and drop it onto your Clouds Generator.



Then, in the Inspector palette, click on the behaviors tab. Down at the bottom of the list of your Randomize behavior's parameters, you'll see a little pull-down menu labeled "Go." Click on this, and navigate to Effects > Line Screen > Scale.



What this means is that you will now be randomizing the value of your Line Screen effect's Scale value, which we previously set to 1. This will make a dramatic difference on your Generator. You also want to make sure that your Amount value is set to 10 and that your Apply Mode is set to "Add and Subtract." The effect of this will be to both increase and decrease the scale of your Line Screen effect for even more variety, from no lines whatsoever to large, intense lines.

Now we want to randomize several more parameters. At this point, we're sort of at the "season to taste" phase of the tutorial. You know how to create randomization, and you know which effects have been applied to your Generator. So go in and randomize some of them to your liking. In my case, I'm adding four more Randomize behaviors to my Generator. They will be applied as follows:

Randomize 1: Apply to: Effects > Colorize > Remap Black to > All. Set the Amount to 1 and the Apply Mode to "Add and Subtract." All other parameters are default.
Randomize 2: Apply to: Effects > Colorize > Remap White to > All. Set the Amount to 1 and the Apply Mode to "Add and Subtract."  All other parameters are default.
Randomize 3: Apply to: Effects > Bloom > Threshold. Set the Amount to 100 and the Apply Mode to "Add and Subtract."  All other parameters are default.
Randomize 4: Apply to: Effects > Bloom > Brightness. Set the Amount to 100 and the Apply Mode to "Add and Subtract."  All other parameters are default.



And that's the entire Generator. Obviously though, it doesn't look exactly right. But we've created this Generator in the expectation that we'll be compositing it with other pieces of footage, for which purpose it will serve just fine.

Saving the Generator
But before we do our compositing, it's about time to store our new Generator. To do this, rename the Generator in your Layers palette to something you want, such as "Dave's Video Breakup" (or something like that). Then simply drag it into your Generators library, and the new preset will be created, complete with all the effects and behaviors you've applied.

Compositing the Generator
So now that we've come this far, we'll finish up by compositing the Generator with some footage. To do this, I'm going to import a QuickTime movie and place it into the same layer as the Generator I created, but below the Generator in the layer stacking order.



And then I'm going to set my Generator's Blend Mode to "Color Burn." The exact mode that you use will depend on the footage you're working with. This could work just as easily with modes like Screen, Overlay, Soft Light, Hard Light, Lighten, Darken, Multiply or a few others. To change the Blending Mode, right-click on your Generator (or Control-click), and set the Blending Mode form the list in the contextual menu. Here's the result of the Color Burn mode on my piece of space footage.



Then to enhance the "breakup" effect, I'm also going to add a Displace filter to my space footage, using my Generator as the map image in that filter's settings.



Of course, this effect will change dramatically over time, as the Generator itself changes. So here, once again, is the final result.



So those are some of the basics of working with Generators in Motion. If you have any further questions, be sure to visit me in our Apple Motion forum by clicking here.

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Related Keywords:apple motion, generators, clouds, video breakup, scan lines

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