Modifying Generators

In this section, the Checkerboard generator is used to illustrate how to edit and animate a generator using the HUD. Once a generator has been customized, you can save the generator to the Library for use in future projects. This section also briefly discusses applying Parameter behaviors to the parameters of a generator.

Editing Generators

In this section, the Checkerboard generator parameters are edited to modify the appearance of the default generator.

To edit the Checkerboard generator
  1. Add the Checkerboard generator to your project.

    Note: For information on adding a generator to your project, see Adding a Generator.

    The default Checkerboard generator appears in the Canvas, Layers tab, and in the Timeline, and the HUD appears.

    Figure. Layers tab showing the Checkerboard generator and the Checkerboard generator HUD.

    The Checkerboard generator HUD contains controls for editing and animating the checkerboard, such as Opacity, Blend Mode, Width, Height, Color, Size (of the checkers), and Contrast. The only Checkerboard parameter that does not appear in the HUD is Pixel Aspect Ratio (which appears in the Inspector).

  2. Click the Color 1 color well and select a new color. If you are using the color wheel, click the center point and drag the pointer to select a new color.

    Figure. Mac OS X Colors window.

    Color 1 is replaced with the new color.

    Figure. Canvas window showing Checkerboard generator with color squares.

    Note: You can save a color in the swatches area along the bottom of the Colors window. Click in the color bar (to the right of the color picker tool), then drag the color chip to a white swatch and release the mouse button.

    Figure. Mac OS X Colors window showing color swatch area.
  3. Click the Color 2 color well and select a new color.

    Color 2 is replaced with the new color.

    Figure. Canvas window showing Checkerboard generator with different color squares.
  4. Drag the Size slider to change the size of the squares.

    The checker size is 80 by default. Drag the slider to the left to make smaller checkers, and to the right to make larger checkers.

    To scale the generator (rather than the size of the checkers), use the Width and Height parameters.

    Note: You can also use the standard object scaling methods—the onscreen transform controls or the Scale parameter in the Properties tab of the Inspector. However, scaling generators in this manner has a greater impact on your system’s performance.

  5. Drag the Contrast slider to adjust the contrast between Color 1 and Color 2.

    Figure. HUD showing Checkboard generator controls.

    Although the checkerboard pattern is not changing, adjusting the Contrast parameter can create dramatically different textures.

    Figure. Canvas window showing Checkerboard generator with a different texture.

Editing Generators Using Onscreen Controls

The onscreen object transform tools, such as Transform, Shear, Anchor Point, Drop Shadow, and so on, can be used to modify a non-text generator. Changes made to the generator using these tools are reflected in the Properties tab. The Adjust Item tool is the only tool that directly modifies a generator parameter, usually the Center or Offset parameter. These changes are reflected in the Generator Inspector.

For more information on the transform tools, see 2D Transform Tools.

To use the Adjust Item tool with a generator
  1. Select the generator you want to modify.

  2. Click the Select/Transform button, hold the mouse button down, and select the Adjust Item tool (the last tool in the pop-up list).

    Figure. Toolbar showing selection tools with the Select/Transform tool selected.

    In the center of the Canvas, a small crosshair (+) appears.

  3. Drag the crosshair to the position you want.

    Figure. Canvas showing a generator pattern being moved to a new position.

    The Offset or Center parameter is adjusted accordingly.

Animating Generators

Although most generators create static images, you can animate the parameters of a generator to create a moving texture over time. This section discusses using the HUD to animate the Checkerboard generator from the above example.

Note: You can also animate the parameters of an animated generator.

For information on using Parameter behaviors to animate a generator, see Applying Behaviors to Generators.

To animate the Checkerboard generator parameters
  1. Go to the frame where you want to begin the animation.

  2. Enable Record (press A).

  3. Set the initial generator parameter values:

    1. Drag the Size slider to set the initial checker size.

      Once a keyframe is set for any parameter in a generator, a keyframe is set for all of the generator parameters. In other words, once the Size parameter is keyframed, the Color 1, Color 2, Contrast, and Center parameters are keyframed.

    2. Click the color wells and pick the initial colors.

    3. Drag the Contrast slider to set the initial contrast value.

    4. Drag one of the Center parameter value sliders to set the initial Center value.

      The value slider on the left of the Center parameter is the X position of the checkers, and the value slider on the right is the Y position. To animate the checkers horizontally, use the left value slider. To animate the checkers vertically, use the right slider. To view the X and Y parameters, click the Center disclosure triangle.

  4. Go to the frame where you want to create the next keyframe.

  5. Change the generator Size, Colors, and Contrast parameter values.

  6. Play the project (press the Space bar).

    The animated generator parameters create a moving, changing texture.

    Figure. Canvas window showing animating Checkerboard generator.

Saving Modified Generators

Once you have modified the parameters of a generator, you can save the generator to the Library. For organizational purposes, it is recommended that you name objects that you save back to the Library with a descriptive title. For example, if you save a Checkerboard generator, it is named “Checkerboard 1” by default.

To save a customized generator to the Library
  1. To rename the modified generator, double-click the generator name in the Layers tab.

    Figure. Layers tab showing the editable label area for the selected generator.
  2. Type the new generator name, then press Return.

  3. In the Library, navigate to the Generators category.

    Note: You can also save the modified generator in another category, such as Favorites.

  4. From the Layers tab, drag the modified generator to the Library stack.

    Figure. Library showing the modified generator being dragged to the file stack.

    The modified generator is saved in the Generators category and appears organized alphabetically in the stack. Custom items saved in the Library are identified with the user icon in the lower right of the icon.

    Figure. Library showing custom generator.

Sharing Saved Generators

By default, any generator that you save in the Library is stored in your user folder: /Users/username/Library/Application Support/Motion/Library/Generators/. To share custom presets, templates, layouts, behaviors, filters, or Library content with another user, the other user must copy the files into his or her home directory.

Applying Behaviors to Generators

Like all other objects in Motion, you can apply Basic Motion, Parameter, or Simulation behaviors to a generator. This section describes applying the Randomize parameter behavior to the Opacity parameter of the Star generator to create a flickering star.

To apply a Parameter behavior to the Star generator
  1. Add the Star generator to your project and display the Generator tab in the Inspector.

  2. In the Generator tab, click Spike Opacity to select that parameter.

    The selected parameter appears in a darker gray than the other parameters.

  3. Control-click the Spike Opacity parameter, then choose Randomize from the shortcut menu.

    Figure. Inspector Generator tab showing shortcut menu of parameter behaviors.

    The Randomize parameter behavior is applied to the Spike Opacity parameter, and the Behaviors tab is automatically displayed so you can adjust the Randomize parameters.

    Figure. Behaviors tab showing the Randomize behavior controls.

    When a Parameter behavior is applied to a parameter, a Behaviors icon appears in the Animation menu for that parameter. In this example, the Behaviors icon appears in the Animation menu for the Spike Opacity parameter.

    Figure. Generator tab showing Behaviors icon on Spike Width parameter.
  4. Click Play (or press the Space bar).

    Because the Randomize parameter behavior is applied to the opacity of the star spikes, the star appears to flicker.

    Figure. Canvas window showing flickering star over a background image.

    To increase or decrease the effect of the flicker, you can modify the Randomize parameters. To quickly jump to the Randomize parameters from the Generator tab, click the Behaviors icon, then choose Randomize from the pop-up menu.

    Figure. Generator tab showing Animation pop-up menu.

    For more information on using Parameter behaviors, see Parameter Behaviors.

Using Generators as Particle Cell Sources

Like other objects, generators can be used as a source for particle cells. The following example uses the Soft Gradient generator. It is recommended that you scale the generator down in the Generator tab of the Inspector to give your particle system more flexibility and to keep the project from taking too much processing power.

To use a generator as a particle cell source
  1. Add the Soft Gradient generator to your project.

    Figure. Canvas window showing the Soft Gradient generator.
  2. In the HUD or Generator tab of the Inspector, lower the Radius value. This example uses a Radius value of 40.

    Figure. HUD showing Soft Gradient generator parameters.
  3. Lower the Width and Height values. In this example, Width is set to 82 and Height is set to 75.

    The size of the gradient and its bounding box are scaled down.

    Figure. Canvas window and HUD showing Soft Gradient generator scaled down.
  4. With the generator still selected, do one of the following:

    • Press E.

    • In the Toolbar, click the Make Particles icon.

    Once an emitter is added to the project, the Emitter object is selected In the Layers tab, the generator object (the Soft Gradient) becomes an emitter source for the new particle cells, and the original reference object (the Soft Gradient) is disabled.

    Figure. Layers tab showing Emitter and disabled reference object.

    In the Canvas, the emitter bounding box appears, which can be transformed using the onscreen controls or the Inspector. The particle appears in the Canvas in the same location as the original object. Although it appears as if the particle is selected, it is actually the bounding box for the emitter.

  5. Play the project (press Space bar).

    Soft gradient particles are emitted.

    Figure. Canvas window showing replicated Soft Gradient generator.

    You can change the particle color, emitter shape, scale, emission angle, birth rate, and so on in the Emitter controls. For more information on working with particles, see Working with Particles.

    Figure. Canvas window showing modifed particle system.