Anatomy of a Replicator

When you replicate a layer, two new layers appear in the Layers tab:

The following sections explain the differences between replicators, cells, and the source objects on which cells are based.

Replicators and Cells

All replicators begin with a source layer: the object in your project that will be duplicated and arrayed onscreen in a custom pattern. When you create a simple replicator—by selecting the source layer you want to “replicate” and clicking the Replicate icon in the Toolbar—two new layers are added to your project: A replicator layer and a cell layer. The cell layer appears underneath its parent replicator layer in the Layers tab and Timeline layers list. This cell layer is named for the source object. At the same time, the source object itself is disabled but remains in its original position in the Layers tab.

Figure. Layers tab showing a group containing a replicator, the disabled source layer, the cells, and a second replicated source layer.

Once you have created the replicator, you can add additional cells by dragging another source object from the Layers tab into the Replicator layer, as shown in the image below.

Figure. Layers tab showing an object being dragged onto a replicatior layer.

When you drag the source object over the Replicator layer (while continuing to hold down the mouse button), a drop menu appears. This menu gives you the option to add the object as a replicator cell or to add the object as a mask to the replicator. For more information, see Using Masks to Create Transparency.

Figure. Layers tab showing the replicator drop-menu.

The replicator and its cell (or cells) have separate sets of parameters that control the look of the mosaic pattern you see in the Canvas. Changing the parameters of the replicator changes the overall onscreen pattern, allowing you to create rectangular, circular, spiral, and other geometric layouts. Changing the parameters of a cell affects each individual element in the onscreen pattern, allowing you to modify attributes such as the angle, color, and scale of the pattern pieces.

Replicator parameters are dynamic—different parameters appear in the Inspector depending on the layout type you choose in the Shape pop-up menu. For example, when Rectangle is the selected pattern shape, additional parameters appear in the Inspector that allow you to modify the size of the rectangle, the number of rows and columns, and other attributes. When Spiral is the selected shape, parameters appear that allow you to adjust the radius of the spiral, the number of twists and arms, the number of points per arm (the locations on the shape where the elements sit), and other attributes.

Figure. Inspector showing Replicator tab set to different shapes.

Further, different parameters are also available depending on the selected arrangement for the shape. In the following image, notice that the Columns, Rows, and Tile Offset parameters are replaced with the Points and Offset parameters when the rectangle arrangement is changed from Tile Fill to Outline.

Figure. Replicator tab showing different Arrangement settings.

Very different looks can be achieved by changing only a few parameters.

Figure. Canvas window showing three different examples of the same replicator.

As with any effect in Motion, replicator parameters can be keyframed in order to change a pattern’s dynamics over time. For example, you can create a wave of dots that follow one another across the screen by keyframing the replicator’s Offset parameter.

Figure. Canvas showing a replicator with a keyframed Offset parameter.

You can add behaviors to the replicator or its cells to create even more varied effects (simulation behaviors can be especially effective). Behaviors applied to a replicator or a cell can be applied to each element of the pattern. This lets you achieve almost limitless variation and complexity that would take hours to animate using keyframes. You can also apply a behavior, such as Vortex, to another object in your project (an object that is not part of the replicator pattern), and have the pattern elements circumnavigate that object.

Replicator Source Objects

Almost any layer in Motion can be replicated (used as a cell source), including shapes, text, images, image sequences, and clips.

Note: Although you can replicate a layer used as the source for a particle emitter, you cannot replicate a particle emitter itself. You also cannot replicate a replicator.

Transformations that you apply to the source are respected in the replicator cells. For example, if you use a sheared and rotated rectangle shape as the replicator source layer, the replicated elements in the Canvas appear sheared and rotated. If the source layer has applied filters, the effects of the filters are retained in the elements of the replicator pattern.

Note: Keep in mind that replicating a movie, especially with applied filters, adversely impacts your computer’s processing performance. For better performance, output your sequence with the filter applied, then import it and use the movie as a source.

Creating Graphics and Animated Clips for a Replicator

Creating a replicator from scratch begins with designing the graphic you want to replicate. You can use any image, shape, text, or movie supported by Motion as a source for a replicator cell. The guidelines for creating source layers for a particle system also apply to creating sources for the replicator. For more information, see Creating Graphics and Animations for Particle Systems.