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Tickling the Ivoroids in Motion 2

Using MIDI to control animation By Dave Nagel
Motion 2 introduced something new to most of us in the world of motion graphics and animation: MIDI-based parameter control. It's easy to think of this as just another (and not necessarily better) way to move a slider and add keyframes to a project. But in fact this capability seriously simplifies what could otherwise turn out to be time-consuming animation chores.

Motion's user manual gives a few examples of using MIDI to control object parameters. But I don't think the examples really do this feature any justice. After all, using MIDI to control, say, an object's rotation isn't any more efficient than moving a slider in Motion's interface to do that same thing. MIDI is much more useful when it can be used to combine multiple actions with a single stroke of the key or turn of the dial. This isn't just time-saving. It can actually allow you to "perform" animations in real-time.

For this tutorial, I've created a fairly simple-looking project in which we'll be using a MIDI keyboard to control an animated keyboard. The project is actually anything but simple though, as we're animating what appears to be a 3D keyboard in a 2D application such that when we press a key on the MIDI keyboard, the corresponding key will appear to be depressed on our canvas.

Kind of like this.

Although you can't see it from where you're sitting, all of that animation took place in real time as I played the keys on my keyboard (an M-Audio Keystation Pro 88, incidentally). It's a complex setup, one that looks something like this in my Layer window.

Yet, once I have it set up, the animation itself is as simple as mashing my sausage fingers on the keyboard (same technique I use for writing my articles, by the way). Can you imagine controlling this beast one parameter at a time?

Now, because the setup for this is somewhat involved, I've decided to break this down into a two-part tutorial. In this installment we'll explore the creation of the white keys with the 3D effect and a method for controlling them with a MIDI keyboard. This will get the basic stuff out of the way. In Part 2, we'll look at the creation of the more difficult black keys.

If you'd like to use my project as a starting point, you can download it from the link below.

Download: NagelMIDI-WhiteKeys.zip (8 KB)

Creating the basic white key
To begin, we're going to create a single object that will eventually become four white keys. Start by drawing a simple rectangle on your canvas with the Rectangle Tool (R).

Then add an Extrude filter to the object. You'll find the Extrude filter at Library > Filters > Stylize. Then go into the Inspector palette and apply the following settings.

This will give you a somewhat 3D-looking object. (We'll improve this effect later on by adjusting the four-corner settings on the layer itself.)

Now, there are two ways we're going to animate this key to make it look like it's being depressed when we play our real keyboard. First, we're going to adjust the Clipping parameter on the Extrude filter; second, we're going to darken the surface of the key to give it a bit of a shadow effect.

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Related Keywords:motion, animation, motion graphics, midi, apple

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