General Motion Graphics Tools

The tools commonly used for motion graphics fall into several categories.

Design Tools

Graphic designers have been using software to facilitate their work for many years. Motion has incorporated many of the most valuable tools commonly found in layout and design applications, including guides, alignment, and direct manipulation for positioning, transforming, and distorting layers. Motion also contains some of the most flexible and sophisticated tools for creating and handling text elements. This is especially important because text is such a critical component of motion graphics design.

Timing Tools

The principal difference between traditional design and motion graphics design is that motion graphics design is time-based. Motion graphics artists are concerned with creating a well-composed and readable layout that can be manipulated over time. Motion provides a Timeline that contains tools usually found in a video editing application (such as tools for trimming, setting markers, slipping, and snapping) to allow a motion graphics artist to hone and compose the temporal aspects of a kinetic project.

Motion also supports audio files, including basic audio mixing, so you can create a soundtrack for your project and make timing decisions based upon the audio as well as visual components. You can animate layers, filters, behaviors, and other elements to create elegant and precise compositions. Furthermore, you can smoothly retime your footage using optical flow technology, or apply Retiming behaviors to clips for some funky effects such as stutter and flash frames.

2D and 3D Compositing Tools

Any time you have more than one layer onscreen simultaneously, you must employ some version of compositing to combine the elements. This might mean moving the layers onscreen so they don’t overlap, adjusting the layers’ opacities so they are partly visible, or incorporating blend modes that mix the overlapping images in a variety of ways. Compositing is fundamental to motion graphics work. Fortunately, Motion makes it easier than ever before, allowing you to control layer and group order, lock and group layers, and apply more than 25 different blending options to create unique effects.

You can also mix 2D and 3D groups in a single project. This allows you to do basic compositing with some elements of your project and complex 3D animations with other elements.

Special Effects Tools

You can further enhance your motion graphics projects by employing many of the same tools used in movies to combine dinosaurs with live actors, sink luxury liners in the ocean, or create space battles. Motion provides many of these tools such as keying (to isolate an object shot against a solid-colored background), masking (to hide wires or other objects that should not be seen in the final image), and particle systems (to simulate natural phenomena such as smoke, fire, and water). Motion can be used to create special effects shots like these, but its real power is in integrating these tools with the design and editing tools described above.