The latest version, Motion 3, is part of the Final Cut Studio 2 suite introduced at NAB in Las Vegas on April 15, 2007. In January 2006 Apple stopped selling Motion as a stand-alone product.
Features of Motion include the ability to create custom particle effects (as well as using pre-built ones) and to add filters, effects and animations in real time. Motion has the ability to address up to 32 GB of RAM and GPU acceleration at 8-bit, 16-bit and 32-bit float color depths. Motion 2 can also integrate with a MIDI keyboard, so that parameters can be controlled by keys or faders; this opens up the possibility real time parameter input into Motion. In addition Motion 3 now allows for complete 2D and 3D compositing in a multiplane environment.
As well as supporting traditional keyframe animation, Motion introduced a system of pre-set 'behaviors' which can be combined to create realistic animations. For instance, the 'throw' behaviour will move an object across the screen. Combined with the 'gravity' behavior, it will simulate a realistic arc of motion. The effects can be tweaked utilizing various parameters, varying the strength of the bounces, the amount of gravity to apply and so on.
This is very different from traditional animation software, which requires the use of keyframes to determine the position of an object at any given time. The software then automatically creates motion to fill the spaces between the keyframes. This makes it easy to know exactly where objects are on the screen at any given time, but it is considerably more difficult to create realistic animations that build up on different, conflicting forces.
In Version 2 a new 'replicator' function was introduced, which allows an object to be replicated to create a repeating pattern of a specified size and shape. With this tool, it is possible to create animations in which the elements of a replicated pattern move in sequence.
'Particle emitters' allow the user to set a pre-drawn shape to rapidly generate copies of itself and emit them across the screen. The direction and intensity can be adjusted, and combined with behaviors to create very complex animations quickly and easily. For example, a particle emitter used in conjunction with a star shape and the 'vortex' behaviour would animate a circle of swirling stars.
Motion features a floating semi-transparent window ("head-up display", or HUD) which displays the most commonly altered parameters of the object or effect currently selected. This allows the user to make quick adjustments without having to search through palettes and menus. However, exact numerical values cannot be entered in this window.
These tools can be accessed from the toolbar at the top of the screen or with keyboard commands.
In Motion, users can import their own graphics files and use pre-prepared graphics such as text and shapes. Objects can be grouped into layers, like other motion graphics programs, but they always retain their own distinct identity. It's easy to take various parts, each of which are individual objects, and group them into a layer. Selecting that layer permits moving all of the objects as a body. This hierarchical system can be confusing at first, but it is very powerful once mastered.
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