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Make Your Projects "DANCE" With Motion 3's Audio Behaviors

Apple has given us some new audio behaviors that make this seemingly simple task very simple By Kevin McAuliffe

I've been an editor/motion graphics artist/compositor for a long time, and when I started out, I performed just one job, that of editor. I jumped into After Effects at version 3.1 (yes, that long ago!), and I primarily started using it because there were things that After Effects could do that the Media Composer could not do (obviously). One thing that always let me down when it came to After Effects was getting your effects to "move" to a music track. It never worked the way I wanted it to, and I always gave up in frustration.

Thankfully, Apple has given us some new audio behaviors that make this seemingly simple task very simple and very quick to pull off. Let's see how well this actually works. Let's launch Motion and create a new project (feel free to download my music clip to follow along with!).  

First things first, I need an audio track! So, with the help of Soundtrack Pro 2, I've created an audio track that you can hear below.

Now the thing to remember about Audio Behaviors is that you can apply them like Video Behaviors, but in this case we are going to do things a little differently. First, we are going to create some text that we will make dance.

Next, let's decide which property of my newly created text we want to have the behavior effect. For this, text size is perfect, as it will easily demonstrate the capability of this behavior. We'll want to add our audio to the project, so from the browser, we can drag our audio clip into the "Audio" tab of our project. Make sure at this point you open your HUD, as it will be an important part of the process.

We know that we want to affect the size of the text, so we will be adjusting the "Size" parameter found under "Format" in the "Text" tab. Select "Size" (and you will notice it highlights), and then right click and select "Audio."

Once you select "Audio," you will immediately see your "Audio Behavior" appear under the "Behaviors" tab in the "Inspector". We're almost done, except for one problem. There is no audio associated with the behavior.  How we make that association is by simply dragging our audio file from the "Audio" tab over into the "Source Audio" parameter in the "Behaviors" tab, and once you do that, you will immediately see your soundtrack appear in the "Audio Graph".

Clicking the "Play" button below the graph will let you watch all the frequencies (assuming you have the "Graph Range" set to "All Frequencies"), so you can select the range you want. Now, I know that from watching my track play, that I want the fourth bar from the right as the range that I want effecting the size of my font, so I can either adjust my Low/High Frequency and Floor/Ceiling slider bars or I can drag my boundary indicator that is attached to the audio graph (which is much easier).

For what I want to accomplish, I am not going to adjust the Floor/Ceiling levels, as by adjusting them, you will get a very "staccato" effect, as it is only looking at the absolute sharpest part of the drum beat.


So, I'm going to leave the Floor/Ceiling sliders alone, as this will produce a very smooth effect. Now, with my HUD active, I can press play on my timeline, drag the "Scale" slider, and you will immediately see your text start to "dance".

In most cases we would be done, but what if our producer thought that this looked great but wanted to not only have the text's size "dance" but also have a blur added at the same time. At this point, you can turn to him and say "No Problem!" Simply take a blur, (we'll use Gaussian Blur), drop it onto your text, and make sure the amount is set to zero.

 Now, you could go back through the entire process again or you can select your "Behaviors" tab, select your "Audio" behavior and duplicate it by pressing "CMD+D". Now, if you look at the bottom of the "Audio copy" behavior, you will see a parameter called "Apply To". Simply click "Go", and navigate to Filters>Gaussian Blur>Amount, and now you will see that your blur mimics your scale.


The great thing with animating this way is that first, I used no keyframes to achieve this effect, and second, if I want to use a different drum beat (like animating off the beat, instead of on it), it's a simple matter of adjusting my low and high frequency, and in a matter of seconds (literally), I can have a different looking result!

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Kevin P McAuliffe is currently a Senior Video Editor working in HD post production in Toronto, Canada. He has been in the television industry for 12 years, and spends his days onlining on a Final Cut Pro HD. Kevin's high definition onlining credit list includes concerts for Coldplay, Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, Snow Patrol, Sum41, Paul Anka, Il Divo and Pussycat Dolls, to name a few. Also, Kevin is an instructor of Advanced Final Cut Studio 2 at the Toronto Film College. If you have any questions or comments, you can drop him a line at kevinpmcauliffe@gmail.com

Related Keywords:apple motion, effects, special effects, audio behaviors


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