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Replicators in Motion 2.0

Part 1: Non-sequenced replicators By Dave Nagel
Replicators in Motion 2.0 are designed to help you create complex animations quickly. They can be used simply to create repeating effects--such as video tiles and kaleidoscopic effects--or to combine simple geometric objects into complex, fluid imagery for use as backgrounds or for other purposes. In this first installment in our new tutorial series on Motion replicators, we'll explore the creation of complex objects from simple shapes and also cover some of the basics of creating and manipulating replicators.

You've no doubt seen Motion 2.0's replication capabilities demonstrated in person or on the Web. Generally when you see replicators in demos, you're seeing things like video tiles, where one image sequence is spawned across the canvas, and the individual elements rotate, flip and generally move about in unison or in sequence. This is a process known as "step sequencing" in Motion, and its something we'll get to in our next installment in this series.

But first I wanted to get into some of the basics of replication and the use of replicators for generating complex imagery from simple objects.

In this context, replicators are similar in nature to particles, but with a few major differences.

  • First, replicators aren't emitted from a point (or points), as particles are.
  • Second, the individual elements of a replicator don't have life spans.
  • And, third, replicators can be  controlled in ways different from particle cells.

In order to explore all this, we'll get into the creation of a replicator from a geometric object, then walk through the process of creating an animation out of it (just to introduce you to the process) like the one you see below.

Creating the replicator
To begin, create a simple geometric form--just a white object with a little detail to it. In my case, I'm using a star that I created in Adobe Illustrator and warped using the Pucker & Bloat effect to bring in a little more interest. If you wish, you can download my shape by clicking here (DaveStar.ai, 164 KB).

Then import this object into Motion and scale it to a size that works well with the dimensions of your canvas.

In my case, I'm also going to add a Glow filter (Library > Filters > Glow > Glow) to soften it up a bit. The settings for my Glow filter can be seen below.

And that's about all I want to do to it for now. So now that I've prepared my object to my liking, I can convert it to a replicator. To do this, just select the object in the Layers palette and choose Object > Replicate (L). The original object then disappears to be replaced by a grid of duplicated objects, like this.

Your replicator is now created, and you're ready to start animating it.

Controlling the cells
Now, in terms of the cell--which is an individual unit of the replicator, but distinct from the original object--I want to make a few modifications. So, in the Layers palette, I'll click on the cell, which is located under the Replicator.

Then I'll go into the Replicator Cell pane of the Inspector palette. The first thing I want to change is the way the cell displays in terms of color and blend. So I'll check the "Additive Blend" checkbox, which will composite the cells in the Add blend mode when they pass over one another. And I'll change the Color Mode to "Over Pattern."

For the colors, on the right, I'm using a medium orange, which in terms of Motion's value settings, is R 0.99, G 0.45, B 0.03. On the right, I'm using a light blue, whose color settings are R 0.45, G 0.43, B 1.00. I'm also adding an opacity stop at the right end of the gradient and setting the opacity there to 0.

Next I want to change the scale of my cells. I'll bring the main scale down to 50% and set the Scale Randomness to 200, which will vary the scale of my cells randomly.

Then I want to add some randomness to the angle of my cells, so I'll set the randomness to something around 209 degrees. However, I also want my cells to spin during my animation, so I'll right-click on the Angle parameter ad choose "Ramp" from the contextual menu that pops up.

This adds a Ramp behavior to my cell and takes me into the Behaviors pane of the Inspector palette. Here I'll set the End Value to 2880 degrees, which will ensure that the objects spin several times by the end of the animation. You might want to vary this setting based on the length of your composition. My composition is just four seconds long, so the spin will be quite fast. I'll also set the curvature to 100 percent. This is something else that's a "season to taste" option.

And that's about it for the cell itself.

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