Replicator Concepts

The replicator in Motion is specifically designed to build patterns of repeating elements with a minimum of effort. The elements of the patterns can consist of video, still images, shapes, text, or any other type of layer in a Motion project. For example, with very few clicks of your mouse you can create a “video wall” based on a single QuickTime movie, or a spinning pinwheel composed of basic shapes, or any other number of mesmerizing graphics arrays.

Figure. Canvas window showing examples of replicators.

Once you have replicated a layer, you can quickly change the shape of the pattern or set its elements into motion by using behaviors or keyframes. In addition, the replicator has a special behavior that allows you to animate the pattern’s elements in sequence over the span of the onscreen composition.

The Difference Between a Replicator and a Particle System

Although the replicator and particle systems share many of the same parameters, they are very different tools. While both use layers (shapes, text, images, and so on) as cell sources and both generate onscreen elements from those cells, each produces a unique effect from those raw materials. A particle system generates dynamic elements that change over time: Particles are born, emerging from an onscreen “emitter”; they move across the Canvas; and they die, according to the “laws of nature” you specify in the parameters of the system.

A replicator, however, is not a dynamic simulation. Its elements are not emitted like particles (replicator elements do not have “birth rate,” “life,” or “speed” parameters). The replicator simply builds a pattern of static copies of a source layer in a shape and arrangement that you specify. Although the replicated elements you see onscreen are static by default, the replicator parameters can be animated. For example, you can designate a simple star shape as the source of your onscreen pattern and then replicate the star multiple times along the outline of a circle. By keyframing the Offset and Color parameters of your newly created replicator layer, you can launch the stars into animated orbit around the center of the circle, making them change color as they whirl.

A behavior called Sequence Replicator allows you to “choreograph” the parameters of your onscreen elements (their position, scale, and opacity, for example) in a cascade of sequential animation. How the animation moves through the replicator pattern is determined by the build style or origin of the replicator, as well as the parameters of the Sequence Replicator behavior. This behavior works very similarly to the Sequence Text behavior. For more information, see Using the Sequence Replicator Behavior.

You can replicate nearly any layer in Motion, including images, shapes, text, movies, and image sequences. You cannot replicate a particle emitter or replicator layers. Each element that is created is essentially a duplicate of the source layer. Unlike the particles of a particle system, however, the elements are not animated over time by default.

Figure. Canvas window showing a single object and the replicated object.

The layer you use as the source for a replicator’s cells helps determine the look of the replicator pattern. A single replicator can contain multiple source layers, resulting in different cells in the same pattern and arrangement.

Figure. Canvas window showing replicator with a single source layer and with two source layers.

Replicators take advantage of Motion’s 3D capabilities. Certain replicator shapes are inherently 3D, and others can have points that exist in 3D space. Additionally, behaviors applied to a replicator can pull pattern elements out of a plane. For more information, see Using Replicators in 3D Space.