Motion 5: Top 5 New Features

Mark Spencer
By Mark Spencer 06.21.11


The new Motion 5 has arrived - and here's the funny thing: while it looks radically different, contains features that represent a completely new paradigm, and will change the way motion graphics are created - it is at the same time no different at all. How can that be? Read on for summary of what I consider the 5 biggest changes in Motion 5, and why they change everything - and nothing at all.

1) The Interface

The most obvious change is the user interface.
Folks familiar with Motion 4 and earlier will be struck immediately by Motion's 5 sleek, dark look: it's beautiful, easy on the eyes, and complements Final Cut Pro X's interface perfectly.

The Motion 5 Interface.

Instead of two separate windows - a Utility Pane and a Canvas - found in Motion 4 and earlier, Motion 5 sports a single unified interface, just like Final Cut Pro X.

The components of the interface, however, really haven't changed. The File Browser, Library, and Inspector can still be found in the left column; the Project Pane next to the Canvas still contains Layers, Media, and Audio - although these "tabs" are now referred to as "lists" - as in, "select the Layers List."

The Layers List.

The toolbar has been moved - it used to live above the Canvas but has been moved down below it - providing quicker, easier access.

Below the Toolbar is the Timing pane, just like prior versions. However it is now opened by default - and the Keyframe Editor and the Audio Timeline no longer have their own tabs. They do, however, have buttons in the lower right corner, as well as keyboard shortcuts - and can be accessed from the Window menu. Since the Timeline is the primary tool, here that makes sense to me - in fact, I would have done the same with the Audio and Media lists in the Project Pane.

Many icons have received an overhaul, and there are several other tweaks throughout the interface that you'll discover as you work with Motion 5, but if you've used Motion 4, 3, or even 2, once you get over the initial shock of the darker shade, you'll feel right at home.

Everything else in Motion is mostly unchanged - all the Library elements - behaviors, filters, shapes, generators, emitters, replicators, etc. are intact and work the same way. The way you work with 3D in Motion 4 - reflections, lights, shadows, animating cameras in 3D space - all work as they have previously.

A 2-window view of a 3D Motion Project - just as you might see in Motion 4.

There are a couple of nice new surprises to be found that I'll be reviewing in a later article.

While the interface change is the most obvious, it's not the most important - not by a long shot. Let's get right to the big stuff, starting with:

2) Final Cut Pro X Integration

While you have been able to bring Motion projects into Final Cut Pro for years, with Final Cut Pro X the way Motion and Final Cut Pro work together has been completely re-imagined. In Final Cut Pro X, you'll be using Motion projects without even realizing it - every time you add a title, transition, effect, or generator to your project!

To see what I mean, in Final Cut Pro X, take a look at the Browser buttons at the right side of the Toolbar.

The Effects Browser in Final Cut Pro X. The icons to the right are, in order, the Photos Browser, Music/Sounds Browser, Transitions Browser, Titles Browser, Generators Browser, and Themes Browser.

Here we have collections of Effects, Transitions, Titles, and Generators - basically everything that you used to find in the Effects tab of the File Browser in Final Cut Pro 7 and earlier. There is a huge amount of content in here. And here's the kicker: right or control-click on any of these presets and you'll get a menu option to Open a Copy in Motion.

Almost all elements in the effects, transitions, titles, and generators browsers are Motion projects - and can be modified in Motion.

That's right, virtually all of these these effects, transitions, titles, and generators are actually Motion projects! So whenever you add a lower third title to an interview clip, drop a transition on an edit point, give your footage a unique look with an effect, or add a background with a generator - you are adding a Motion project to your timeline.

This means that Motion has become much more than an optional motion graphics design application alongside the tools built into Final Cut Pro - it has became the development tool for creating effects for Final Cut Pro X. A fascinating new development with far-reaching implications.

Motion's integral role in Final Cut Pro X goes even deeper with two powerful new features. The first is:

3) Publishing

Publishing has two levels of meaning in Motion 5. The top level refers to the new ability to publish Motion projects (also called templates) to the appropriate browser in Final Cut Pro. In other words, when you create a new project in Motion 5, you first choose what type of Motion project you want to make. If you check out the new Project Browser that opens when you launch Motion (or start a new project), you'll see that in addition to the standard Motion project we've come to know and love, there are now 4 new project types - one for each of the browsers in Final Cut Pro: Effects, Generators, Transitions, and Titles.

Motion 5's new Project Browser.

When you select and then save of these new project types, they are automatically published to Final Cut Pro and immediately available in the appropriate browser.

That's all very exciting - but the second meaning of Publishing in Motion is where things get really interesting.

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