Apple Motion

Today Apple was awarded an interesting patent. It was applied for in 2004, so developments over the intervening years may have superseded some of its concepts, however it shows how gestures can be used in non-multitouch enabled situations.

Here’s a long edited excerpt from Apple’s patent:

The first part explains why using gestures is a good idea:

The use of gestures to control a multimedia editing application provides a more efficient and easier to use interface paradigm over conventional keyboard and iconic interfaces.

First, since the gestures can replace individual icons, less screen space is required for displaying icons, and thereby more screen space is available to display the multimedia object itself. Indeed, the entire screen can be devoted to displaying the multimedia object (e.g., a full screen video), and yet the user can still control the application through the gestures.

Second, because the user effects the gestures with the existing pointing device, there is no need for the user to move one of his hands back and forth between the pointing device and keyboard as may be required with keystroke combinations. Rather, the user can fluidly input gestures with the pointing device in coordination with directly manipulating elements of the multimedia object by clicking and dragging. Nor is the user required to move the cursor to a particular portion of the screen in order to input the gestures, as is required with iconic input.

Third, the gestures provide a more intuitive connection between the form of the gesture and the associated function, as the shape of the gesture may be related to the meaning of the function.

Fourth, whereas there is a relatively limited number of available keystroke combinations–since many keystroke combination may already be assigned to the operating system, for example–there is a much larger set of available gestures that can be defined, and thus the user can control more of the application through gestures, then through keystrokes. 


FIG. 1: The user interface includes three primary regions, the canvas (102), the timing panel (106), and the file browser (110). The canvas is used to display the objects as they are being manipulated and created by the user, and may generally be characterized as a graphics window. In the example of FIG. 1, there are shown three multimedia objects (104), Square A, Circle C, and Star B, which will be referred to throughout as such this disclosure when necessary to reference a particular object. In the preferred embodiment, the multimedia application is a non-linear video editing application, and allows the creation of multimedia presentations, including videos. Accordingly, the objects displayed in the canvas at any given time represent the “current” time of the multimedia presentation. 

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When first trying out downloaded effects, transitions, titles and generators in Final Cut Pro X, sometimes the viewer turns blue.

If this happens to you, the most likely problem is that your version of Final Cut Pro X is too old. You need to use the Mac App Store to check for updates. You’ll see the update if you are signed into the App Store with the same Apple ID as you bought your copy of Final Cut Pro X.

In practice most people who provide transitions, effects, generators and titles update their versions of Motion 5 and Final Cut Pro X when they come out, so any tools they make available after that only work on the new version of Final Cut.

This means most effects and transitions made available after September 20th, 2011 won’t work in version 10.0.

Most effects and transitions made available after November 16th, 2011 won’t work in version 10.0.1 or earlier.

Most effects and transitions made available after January 31st, 2012 won’t work in version 10.0.2 or earlier.

Most effects and transitions made available after April 10th, 2012 won’t work in version 10.0.3 or earlier.

Most effects and transitions made available after June 11th, 2012 won’t work in version 10.0.4 or earlier.

Most effects and transitions made available after October 23rd, 2012 won’t work in version 10.0.5 or earlier.

Most effects and transitions made available after December 6th, 2012 won’t work in version 10.0.5 or earlier, but will work in the out of date version: 10.0.6.

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When learning Apple Motion I suggest that people avoid using keyframes to animate parameters. Motion is much happier using behaviours to change values over time.

This tip is for Motion users who have a good understanding of how to use behaviours to control animation.

A popular parameter behaviour is Ramp. Over the time of the behaviour it animates a parameter from one value to another. In this case, at the start of the behaviour, 180 degrees is added to the rotation parameter and this value changes to adding 0 degrees by the end:

The Curvature value of 100% means that the value eases out from 180 and eases into 0. Here’s the animation graph:

Unlike some behaviours you cannot directly set a curve shape using Ramp. In many cases you need to have a curve that eases in only or eases out only.

Using this tip, you get more control over the animation curve.

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If you create effects in Motion 5 for people to use in Final Cut Pro X, there is a gotcha when it comes to the text that appears in the Undo menu command.

Many effects use on-screen-controls. Sometimes these controls are implemented using Motion effects that are applied to layers that are set to have an opacity of zero before being published to Final Cut Pro.

For example, in my Mask+ set of effects, I wanted an on-screen control that set values for position, angle, width and height of my mask. In Motion, the Kaleidotile effect has an on-screen control that sets all these values. My technique is then to apply the Kaleidotile effect to a dummy layer and use Link Parameter behaviours to change the position, angle, width and height of my mask:

You can see from the thumbnail that the ‘Transform controls group’ has an opacity of 0%. It has the Kaleidotile effect applied to it. The ‘Effect Mask’ group has Link Parameter behaviours that link the Kaleidotile parameter values to that of the Scale, Rotation and Position of the group as a whole.

A small problem arises when you publish effects like these in Final Cut Pro X. If you change these values in an instance of your template applied to a clip and go to the Edit menu to undo what you’ve done, Final Cut reports name of the action most recently performed. In this case if you change the on-screen transform controls of the mask, the Undo menu item looks like this:

This also applies if you change on-screen controls in Apple’s Mask effect and go on to undo:

In this case the on-screen control for the Poke effect in Motion 5 has been linked to the co-ordinates that define the top-right position of the four-point mask.

Luckily there is a way of fixing this.

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If you have Motion 4, you might miss all the project presets you are used to.

The internal format of these presets is the same for Motion 5. That means you can copy the presets you’d like to use from inside Motion 4 to Motion 5.

To see the wide variety of project templates in Motion 4, view its contents (by right- or control-clicking the Motion 4 app and choosing ‘Show Package Contents’ from the context menu), and navigate to

Motion / Contents / Resources / English.lproj / Presets / Project

If you’d like some of these presets in Motion 5, use the following method.

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While creating my next Motion 5 template for use in Final Cut Pro X, I came across a small problem. I’d rigged various behaviours to a single slider. Sliders default to having two snapshot positions: at 0 and 100.

I wanted to add a snapshot to the slider at exactly 50. You add snapshots to sliders by double-clicking below the slider. You then can position the snapshots by dragging them left and right until they are at the slider position you want.

Unfortunately you can’t drag as precisely as you might like. It helps if you drag the edge of the inspector pane to make it much wider – you get more control that way. Here’s what I ended up with:
Screenshot of a rigged slider showing a snapshot not positioned at exactly 50

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Inside version 10.0 of Final Cut Pro X are graphics files not used on screen… yet:

These are large versions of the icons used in Motion’s library:

Perhaps these icons will support a ProApps Store that is built into a future version of Final Cut Pro X and Motion.

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A good way to learn Motion 5 is to analyze the many effect, transition, title and generator templates built into Final Cut Pro X.

You can do this inside FCP X by control- or right-clicking the template and choosing ‘Open a Copy in Motion’ – but there’s a quick way to get access to nearly all the built-in effects in Final Cut Pro (the ones implemented using Motion).

In the Applications folder control- or right-click the Final Cut Pro application and choose Show Package Contents from the contextual menu:

Open the sub-folders in Final Cut Pro X so that the contents of ‘Final Cut’ is visible:

The Motion templates that implement the effects, transitions, titles and generators in Final Cut Pro are in the ‘Templates’ folder. Use option-drag to make a copy of the whole folder elsewhere on your computer. Don’t forget to rename the Templates folder to something like ‘Motion Templates built-in’

Check out my free effects and articles on my Final Cut Pro X home page.

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