3D Workspace and Views

In a 3D workspace, everything is seen from the viewpoint of a camera. The default views presented in the 3D workspace are reference cameras that can be used and manipulated to help place and animate objects but are not used for rendering output. If you wish to render specifically from one of the camera views, you must create a scene camera. For more information on cameras, see Cameras.

Views

There are several different view layouts, with each layout consisting of an arrangement of viewports. But each layout works exactly the same as another, and the views are manipulated in precisely the same way no matter how many views there are. Each viewport displays the scene from the point of view of a camera. Reference camera views have a specific default position and orientation.

There are two types of default reference cameras:

  • Orthogonal

  • Perspective

An orthogonal camera views the scene by looking straight down one of the world axes: X, Y, or Z. The default orthogonal “cameras” do not actually appear in the Layers tab, Timeline, or Canvas. The Front and Back cameras look straight down the Z axis. The Top and Bottom cameras look straight down the Y axis. The Left and Right cameras look straight down the X axis.

Figure. Canvas window showing an orthagonal camera view with no rotation.

Orthogonal cameras do not show perspective. Perspective cameras—and scene cameras that you add to a project—distort the view the way a real-world camera would.

Figure. Canvas window showing an object rotated in orthogonal camera view and in perspective camera view.

In order to have access to reference camera views and camera controls, you must first add a camera to your scene.

To add a scene camera to a Motion project
  1. Choose Object > New Camera (or press Command-Option-C).

    A camera object is added to the Layers tab, the Timeline, and the Canvas (represented there by a wireframe icon). The 3D Transform tool in the Toolbar becomes active, the Camera HUD appears (if it isn’t visible, press F7), and the Camera tab in the Inspector becomes available.

    If you add a camera to a project that contains no existing 3D groups, the following dialog appears:

    Figure. Switch to 3D dialog.
  2. Click either “Keep as 2D” or “Switch to 3D.”

    Once you add a camera to a project, the Camera menu becomes available in the upper-left corner of the Canvas.

    Figure. Canvas window showing Camera menu.

3D Canvas Overlays

There are six 3D overlays that can appear in the Canvas: the Camera menu, the 3D View tools, the Inset view, the 3D grid, the 3D Compass, and the 3D scene icons. You can turn the display of each of the overlays on or off in the Canvas.

Figure. Canvas window showing 3D controls: Camera menu, 3D View tools, 3D scene icons, 3D grid, 3D Compass, and Inset view.
To modify the appearance of 3D overlays
Do one of the following:
  • Choose View > 3D Overlays, then choose the type of 3D overlay you wish to show or hide.

  • Choose the type of 3D overlay you wish to show or hide from the View pop-up menu in the Status Bar.

Camera Menu

The Camera pop-up menu, located in the upper-left corner of the Canvas, lists the currently active camera view. Choose from a list of reference cameras and scene cameras, as well as several view-related commands.

Figure. Camera menu showing options.

The Camera menu is divided into three sections:

  • The top section allows you to select the currently active camera as well as any other scene cameras you have added to the project. If a scene contains more than one camera, the camera that is topmost in the Layers tab and in the Timeline at the current frame is the active camera. For more information on scene cameras, see Cameras.

  • The middle section allows you to select one of the default reference cameras: Perspective, Front, Back, Left, Right, Top, Bottom.

  • The bottom section allows access to five commands: Reset View, Select Active Camera, Fit Objects Into View, Frame Objects, and Focus on Object. For details on each of these commands, see the 3D View section in View Menu.

3D View Tools

The 3D View tools can be used to control both reference and scene cameras.

The scene camera indicator appears to the left of the 3D View tools only when a scene camera is the active camera.

Figure. Canvas window showing 3D View tools.

There are three 3D View tools:

  • Pan: Drag in this box to move the camera along the X and Y axes relative to the current view.
  • Orbit: Drag in this box to orbit the camera around the currently selected scene object. If nothing is selected, the camera orbits around its focal plane. For more information on the camera focal plane, see Camera Controls. Orbit can affect X, Y, and Z Position values, as well as X and Y Rotation values.

    Note: If you use the orbit control to change one of the orthogonal reference cameras, an asterisk appears next to the view’s name in the Camera menu, indicating that the view is no longer a true orthogonal view.

  • Dolly: Drag in this box to dolly the camera, moving it along the Z axis relative to the current view.

    Important: Double-clicking a 3D View tool resets all parameters that can be affected by the tool.

3D View Tool Shortcuts

It is possible to use the Pan, Orbit, and Dolly tools with keyboard commands and a three-button mouse:

  • Pan: Drag in the Canvas while holding down the Option key and the right mouse button.
  • Orbit: Drag in the Canvas while holding down the Command key and the right mouse button.
  • Dolly: Drag in the Canvas while holding down the Command key, the Option key, and the right mouse button.

3D Compass

Located in the lower-left corner of the Canvas, the 3D Compass acts as an orientation and shortcut device. It has active and passive states, depending on whether the pointer is positioned over it. In its passive state, it displays the orientation of the three world axes (X, Y, and Z). In its active state, the compass presents color-coded shortcuts to the reference (orthogonal and perspective) cameras.

Figure. Canvas window showing 3D Compass in passive and active states.
To select a reference camera view using the 3D Compass
  1. Position the pointer over the compass.

    The compass changes to its active state, displaying a labeled icon for each of the reference camera views.

  2. Click the icon representing the camera you wish to activate.

    The view in the Canvas updates to the selected reference camera view.

To select a scene camera view using the 3D Compass
  1. Position the pointer over the 3D Compass.

    The compass changes to its active state.

  2. Control-click the 3D Compass, then choose a scene camera from the shortcut menu.

    The view in the Canvas changes to the selected scene camera view.

    Note: You can also choose a reference camera view from the 3D Compass shortcut menu.

Inset View

When you move an object, an Inset view appears in the lower-right corner of the Canvas, showing the scene from a different camera’s point of view. If you are currently viewing the scene through the active camera, the Inset view shows the Perspective camera’s point of view. If you are currently viewing the scene through any other camera, the Inset view shows the active camera. Use the Inset view to see the results of changes that you make in orthogonal views.

Figure. Canvas window showing perspective camera view.

Use Motion Preferences to set the Inset view’s size and when it appears in the Canvas. For more information on Inset view properties, see 3D Pane.

3D Grid

The 3D grid shows the ground plane of the 3D world. The ground plane is, as the name states, a plane attached to the “ground” of the scene, where Y equals 0. The ground plane represents the dividing line between “up” and “down,” that is, between positive Y values and negative Y values. It is centered on 0, 0, 0.

Figure. Canvas window showing 3D grid.

3D Scene Icons

3D scene icons are the onscreen representations of cameras, lights, and edge-on lines. An edge-on line is drawn when an object’s edge is facing the camera—which normally results in an invisible object. This allows you to select objects that would otherwise be invisible. None of the 3D scene icons appear in exported images and movie clips.

Figure. Canvas window showing 3D scene icons for camera, camera's angle of view, edge-on line indicator, and light.

Tip: Double-click a camera scene icon to select it and change the current view to that camera.

View Layouts

Motion allows you to have multiple views active at the same time in the Canvas to help with animating and positioning objects in 3D space. The View Layouts pop-up menu, located in the Status Bar, just above the 3D View tools, lets you choose from seven different view layouts. Each layout is represented by an icon in the pop-up menu:

  • Single: The default value, displays a single window in the Canvas.
  • Two-up, side by side: Displays two windows in the Canvas, one next to the other.
  • Two-up, top and bottom: Displays two windows in the Canvas, one on top of the other.
  • Three-up, large window below: Displays three windows, two next to each other on top and a larger window below.
  • Three-up, large window right: Displays three windows, two stacked on the left side and a larger window spanning the right side.
  • Four-up, large window right: Displays four windows, three stacked on the left side and one larger window on the right side.
  • Four-up: Displays four windows, all the same size.
    Figure. Canvas window showing View Layouts pop-up menu.
To open multiple windows in the Canvas
  • Choose a layout from the View Layouts pop-up menu.

    The Canvas displays the layout you choose.

When working with multiple views, the last view you clicked in is the active view. The active view is indicated by a yellow border. Only the active view can contain onscreen controls.

Figure. Canvas window showing four-up view with the upper left view active.

Note: The active view in the Canvas is not the same as the “Active Camera.” For more information, see Active Camera.