Product Review: Page (1) of 2 - 08/31/09 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at page facebook

Final Cut Studio's Motion 4

With all the new features in Motion (and across the the whole studio), $299 is a very affordable upgrade price By Kevin McAuliffe

Star Wars Episode 1 and Apple's new Final Cut Studio have something in common, and that is the hype. Final Cut Studio has been hyped for more than a year, and every time someone blogged about its release coming up, nothing happened. Well, mid-way through July, Apple snuck Final Cut Studio (not called 3, just Final Cut Studio) onto its website, and needless to say, the tidal wave began. Every blog outlet, and writer out there was quick to jump on the band wagon to talk about, in many cases, that they were disappointed with what Apple has served up with Final Cut Studio (FCS).

Much like The Phantom Menace, there was no way it could have lived up to the hype. The previous version of FCS was announced on April 15, 2007 at NAB, and this incarnation has been more than two years in the making, and let me say that I am very happy with what Apple has done. Not only have has Apple brought improvements to almost all the applications, the engineers have fixed a whole bunch of things that didn't work right, and for me, the biggest improvement in the bundle has to be Motion 4. Let's take a look at what Apple has done to bring Motion even closer to the spotlight.

The first thing that you NEED to be aware of is that FCS requires both Leopard and an Intel-based Mac to run. Sorry PowerPC'rs, you are out of luck on this one. The installation time might vary depending on how much you want to install. If you are looking for just the bare bones (applications), it should take about 5 minutes to install. If you are looking to install all the content (Motion templates, Soundtrack Pro SFX/Music, etc), then be prepared to wait anywhere up to an hour for the installation process to finish. Also, depending on when you are reading this article, make sure that the first thing you do after installation is head over to the Apple drop-down, and do a "Software Update," to make sure that your software is the most recent version (as of August 09, there are no updates yet for FCS). Don't feel as though you need to install all the content when you install FCS. This extra content can be installed at any time.

Also, anyone unfamiliar with Final Cut Studio should be aware that there is no downloadable demo of the software.

What you get and how it works
Upon launching Motion 4, if you didn't see the splash screen, you really wouldn't know the difference. It's like looking at a regular car, and then looking at the sports version. Very little difference on the outside but major difference on the inside! Here's what's new under the hood:
Major 3D enhancements
3D Shadows
I'll be honest. There were some major issues with Motion 3's 3D. It was cool, and it was fast, but it lacked simple things that 3D needs. First of all, it lacked a 3D shadow. If you shone a light on something, no shadow was cast. Well, that has been fixed and, of course, can be previewed in real time (depending on your project's resolution). Obviously, once a light is shone at an object, assuming the object is set to cast shadows (which is automatically turned on once an object is 3D), the shadow acts the way it would in the "real" world. The whole process to add a 3D shadow, or give objects reflective properties takes seconds to apply.

You can now set any object to be reflective, and watch that reflectivity change depending on where your objects are in 3D space.

Depth of Field 
Depth of Field is probably my favorite of any new feature. I don't normally compare products in my reviews, but in this case I'm going to. I hate After Effects' Depth of Field, because there's too much work needed to get a less than half decent result. Motion 4's depth of field is, in a word, awesome. It's not only simple (very simple) to use, but it looks very, very realistic. Take a look at what I mean.

Oh, and by the way, that's playing back in real time!
Adjust Glyph Tool
When animating text in Motion 3, we had the ability to animate the text as a whole. Meaning that if you had typed out a sentence, you had control over the text of the entire sentence. Well, not anymore. With Motion 4, you can now go in and manipulate individual characters to animate independently of the rest of your characters. Very nice!


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Related Keywords:motion graphics, special effects, visual effects, motion 4

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