Canvas

The majority of your screen is occupied by your main work area, the Canvas. This is similar to the document window in many other applications. It is here that you arrange and lay out the layers that comprise your composite. Adding layers and effects to your project is as simple as dragging them from the utility window to the Canvas.

When you want to watch your project play back, the transport controls at the bottom of this window (below the Canvas) allow you to play your project at regular speed or frame by frame. The mini-Timeline lies just above the transport controls and below the main body of the window. This control provides a view of where selected layers in the Canvas begin and end in time.

Figure. Canvas window showing main work area, Toolbar, mini-Timeline, and transport controls.

Whatever you see in the Canvas reflects exactly what you get when you export or output your project. However, this window is not just a place to view the results of your work; this is where you modify and arrange the elements of your project.

You can directly manipulate the items in the Canvas to modify physical attributes such as position, scale, and rotation, or use familiar drag-and-drop techniques to apply behaviors or filters directly to the items in the Canvas. See Using Behaviors and Using Filters to learn more about how to use these features.

Canvas Shortcut Menu

The Canvas has its own shortcut menu that allows you to access some tools you may need while working in the Canvas.

To use the Canvas shortcut menu
  • Control-click an empty area of the Canvas (in the gray area outside of the actual project) and choose an option from the shortcut menu:

    • New Group: Adds a new group to the project above any existing groups in the Layers tab.
    • Import: Opens the Import dialog, which allows you to import files from the Finder.
    • Paste: Pastes any item that has been copied to the Clipboard into a new group in the project. The new group is added above any existing groups in the Layers tab.
    • Project Properties: Opens the Project Properties dialog, which allows you to modify the project’s background color, aspect ratio, field rendering, motion blur, and so on. For more information on the Project Properties dialog, see Creating Blank Projects from Project Presets.

Status Bar

A Status Bar appears at the top-left of the Canvas, below the Toolbar, and provides information about your project. There are three types of information that can be displayed here: color, coordinates, and frame rate.

Figure. Status Bar.

Color

Some motion graphics projects may require you to match or align different colors in your project. The Status Bar can provide visual and numerical information on the color of the pixel currently under the pointer, as well as the value of the alpha channel. No clicking is necessary—as you move the pointer, the Status Bar updates.

Figure. Status Bar showing color vaiue.
To display the current pixel color in the Status Bar
  • Control-click the Status Bar, choose Color from the shortcut menu, then position the pointer over the Canvas.

    This procedure allows you to see the exact color and alpha values of the examined pixel. You can view the color numerically in one of three formats:

    • RGBA: The red, green, blue, and alpha components of the color are represented in values from 0–255.
    • RGBA (percent): The red, green, blue, and alpha components of the color are represented in values from 1–100.
    • HSV: The hue is represented from 1–360, and the saturation and value (luminance) are represented in values from 1–100.
To choose between viewing color in RGB, RGB (percent), and HSV
  • Control-click the Status Bar, then choose the color space option you want from the shortcut menu.

Note: Color must be enabled in the Status Bar to choose a color space.

Coordinates

For precision placement of objects in the Canvas, it may be helpful to know the exact pixel position of the pointer at any given time. The Status Bar can display this information in an X and Y coordinate system (Cartesian). The center point of the Canvas is 0,0.

To display the current pointer position in the Status Bar
  • Control-click the Status Bar, then choose Coordinates from the shortcut menu.

Frame Rate

Part of the way Motion plays back your project in real time is by lowering the frame rate when the sequence is too complex to render at full speed. You can monitor the current frame rate in the Status Bar. It is measured in frames per second (fps).

Note: This number only appears while the project is playing.

Figure. Frame rate indicator in the Status Bar.
To monitor the project’s playback frame rate
  • Control-click the Status Bar, then choose Frame Rate from the shortcut menu.

You can also turn the Status Bar items on and off in the Appearance Preferences pane. To display Motion Preferences, choose Motion > Preferences.

Figure. Motion Preferences window showing Appearance pane.

Canvas View Options

This section discusses the various ways to view the Canvas using the view options menus just above the top-right corner of the Canvas.

Figure. View options pop-up menus.

Advanced Quality Settings

When the Canvas view quality is set to Custom in the Quality section of the Render pop-up menu (or in the View > Quality pull-down menu), the Advanced Quality Options dialog opens.

Figure. Advanced Quality Options dialog.

The Advanced Quality Options dialog provides additional controls to fine-tune your rendering performance and quality.

  • High Quality Resampling: Turns on high-quality resampling.
  • Shape antialiasing: Renders shapes at a higher resolution, then scales objects back to regular resolution to ensure smooth edges.
  • Antialias 3D intersections: Renders objects intersecting in 3D space at a higher resolution, then scales objects back to regular resolution to ensure smooth edges.
  • Use floating-point footage when necessary: Floating point versions (if any exist in the project) of floating point QuickTime images are loaded and rendered in float space. This option slows down project interactivity.

Overriding Project Settings Selected in the Render Pop-Up Menu

Lighting, shadows, reflections, depth of field, field rendering, motion blur, and frame blending severely impact rendering time. The options selected in the Render pop-up menu are exported with your project when using the default export presets (“Movie - current project and canvas settings”). These effects can be turned off temporarily while exporting. This section describes how to override these settings.

To override the current project settings during export
  1. Choose File > Export.

  2. Optional: Select a name and location for the saved file.

  3. In the Export dialog, click the Options button next to the Export pop-up menu.

  4. In the Output tab of the Export Options dialog, deselect “Use current project and canvas settings.”

    Note: If you have already chosen another export preset from the Use pop-up menu in the Export dialog, “Use current project and canvas settings” is deselected.

    The options in the Output tab become available, including Resolution, Color, Frame Rate, Camera, Lighting, Shadows, Reflections, Depth of Field, Render Quality, Field Rendering, Motion Blur, and Frame Blending settings.

  5. Select the settings you want enabled during the export, such as Lighting, Shadows, Reflections, Frame Blending and so on.

    The exported file will include the settings chosen here, but the Canvas will continue to display only the settings chosen in the Render pop-up menu.

To override the current project settings for field rendering on export
  1. Choose File > Export.

  2. Optional: Select a name and location for the saved file.

  3. In the Export dialog, click the Options button next to the Export pop-up menu.

  4. In the Output tab of the Export Options dialog, turn off “Use current project and canvas settings.”

  5. Deselect the Field Rendering checkbox.

    Note: If you have already chosen another export preset from the Use pop-up menu in the Export dialog, “Use current project and canvas settings” is turned off.

    The options in the Output tab become available, including Resolution, Color, Frame Rate, Camera, Lighting, Render Quality, Field Rendering, Motion Blur, and Frame Blending settings.

    When the Field Rendering checkbox is selected in the Output tab, the project is exported with field rendering regardless of the Field Rendering status in the View pop-up menu.

To override the current project settings for motion blur on export
  1. Choose File > Export.

  2. Optional: Select a name and location for the saved file.

  3. In the Export dialog, click the Options button next to the Export pop-up menu.

  4. In the Output tab of the Export Options dialog, turn off “Use current project and canvas settings.”

  5. Deselect the Motion Blur checkbox.

    Note: If you have already chosen another export preset from the Use pop-up menu in the Export dialog, “Use current project and canvas settings” is turned off.

    The options in the Output tab become available, including Resolution, Color, Frame Rate, Camera, Lighting, Render Quality, Field Rendering, Motion Blur, and Frame Blending settings.

    When the Motion Blur checkbox is selected in the Output tab, the project is exported with motion blur regardless of the Motion Blur status in the View pop-up menu.

To override the current project settings for frame blending on export
  1. Choose File > Export.

  2. Optional: Select a name and location for the saved file.

  3. In the Export dialog, click the Options button next to the Export pop-up menu.

  4. In the Output tab of the Export Options dialog, deselect “Use current project and canvas settings.”

  5. Deselect the Frame Blending checkbox.

    Note: If you have already chosen another export preset from the Use pop-up menu in the Export dialog, “Use current project and canvas settings” is deselected.

    The options in the Output tab become available, including Resolution, Color, Frame Rate, Camera, Lighting, Render Quality, Field Rendering, Motion Blur, and Frame Blending settings.

    When the Frame Blending checkbox is selected in the Output tab, the project is exported with frame blending regardless of the Frame Blending status in the View pop-up menu.

Canvas Zoom Level

You can zoom in on the Canvas to allow precision alignment and placement of objects, and you can zoom out to get a sense of the big picture or to see the path of a moving object. You can also use the dynamic zoom modes to quickly zoom in or out of the Canvas, or to zoom specific areas of the Canvas. If you are using a Mac computer with a Multi-Touch trackpad, you can pinch open to zoom in and pinch closed to zoom out.

Zooming the Canvas does not actually change the size of the images in your project. It merely changes the current view of the entire window.

To zoom in or out on the Canvas
  • Choose a zoom level from the Zoom Level pop-up menu.

    In the following image, 50% is chosen from the Zoom Level pop-up menu.

    Figure. Canvas window showing the zoom level at 50%.
To use the dynamic zoom mode
  • Hold the Space bar and Command key (in that order), then drag diagonally in the Canvas. The zoom occurs around the spot clicked in the Canvas.

To zoom in and out using a Multi-Touch trackpad
  • Place two fingers on the trackpad and move them closer together (“pinch closed”) to zoom in or farther apart (“pinch open”) to zoom out.

    Once zoomed in, you can use a two-finger swipe in any direction to scroll around.

To zoom in and out of a specific area of the Canvas
  • Hold down the Space bar and Command key (in that order), then drag the area of the Canvas you want to zoom. While still holding down the keys, click the mouse button to zoom in 50 percent increments of the current zoom level. Press Space bar-Command-Option (in that order), then click to zoom out in 50 percent increments of the current zoom level.

Note: To pan the Canvas without selecting the Pan tool, hold down the Space bar and drag in the Canvas.

To reset the Canvas Zoom level
Do one of the following:
  • Choose 100% from the Zoom Level pop-up menu.

  • In the Toolbar, double-click the Zoom tool (located between the Pan and Walk Camera tools).

To reset the Canvas Pan
  • In the Toolbar, double-click the Pan tool.

To zoom the Canvas so that the entire viewable area of the project fills the window
  • Choose Fit In Window from the Zoom Level pop-up menu.

Canvas Rulers

Using rulers in the Canvas can help you compose or align the elements of your project, as well as snap objects to the rulers.

To turn on rulers
  • In the View pop-up menu, enable Rulers (or press Command-Shift-R). When enabled, a checkmark appears next to the item in the pop-up menu.

    By default, rulers appear along the left and top sides of the Canvas. You can change the location of the rulers in the Canvas pane of Motion Preferences.

To change the location of the rulers
  1. Choose Motion > Preferences.

  2. In the Canvas pane, choose a ruler layout from the Ruler Location pop-up menu.

To add a horizontal or vertical guide to the Canvas
  1. In the Toolbar, click the Select/Transform tool (or press S).

  2. Click in the gray area of the horizontal or vertical ruler, and drag into the Canvas.

    As you drag, the value of the guide is displayed in the Canvas.

    Note: Guides must be enabled in the View menu (press Command-Semicolon) to display the guides.

    Figure. Rulers and guides in the Canvas window.

    The ruler units are in pixels, with the 0,0 point in the center of the Canvas.

  3. When the guide is in the location you want, release the mouse button.

To simultaneously add a horizontal and vertical guide to the Canvas
  1. In the Toolbar, click the Select/Transform tool (or press S).

  2. Drag from the corner in which the rulers meet into the Canvas.

  3. When the guides are in the location you want, release the mouse button.

To remove a guide from the Canvas
  • In the Toolbar, click the Select/Transform tool (or press S), then drag the guide off the Canvas.

To change the color of the guides
  1. Choose Motion > Preferences.

  2. In the Canvas pane, click or Control-click the Guide Color well, then select a color.

Canvas in 3D Mode

In addition to the traditional 2D project workspace, Motion provides a 3D workspace in which to arrange and animate objects, including groups, layers, cameras, and lights. When you switch to 3D mode, additional controls become available in the Canvas that reflect the new environment. A small set of 3D View tools appears in the upper-right corner of the Canvas window, and a 3D Compass appears in the lower-left corner. The upper-left corner of the Canvas contains the Camera menu, where you can choose which camera to use to view your project in 3D space.

Note: You must add at least one camera to your project to create a 3D workspace.

To add a camera to your project
  1. Click the New Camera icon in the Toolbar.

    A dialog appears that prompts you to switch your 2D groups to 3D groups.

  2. Click Switch to 3D to add a camera and create a 3D project.

    If you click Keep as 2D, a camera is added to your project and all groups remain 2D groups.

Manipulating the 3D View

The 3D workspace provides tools for manually changing your view or viewing your scene from a particular reference camera view, such as Front, Back, Top, Bottom, and so on. You can also choose to view the scene through any of the cameras added to your project.

Note: The Left, Right, Top, and Bottom camera views are orthogonal views. You cannot animate or export these views.

To set the current view
  • Click the Camera menu in the upper-left corner of the Canvas and choose a camera from the menu. Motion animates your view change as it moves to the new view.

Figure. Camera menu showing options.

If you have modified the view, an asterisk appears next to the name of the camera view.

Note: If you isolate a layer or group (choose Object > Isolate), the Camera menu shows the name of the isolated object as the current view. For more information on the Isolate feature, see Layers Tab.

To use the 3D View tools
  • Drag the Pan, Orbit, or Dolly tool from the 3D View tools.

    Like a camera move, the view moves, rotates, or zooms.

    Figure. 3D View tools.

    Important: The gray editing camera icon appears beside the 3D View tools when a user-created scene camera is active. This icon is a reminder that when you use the 3D View tools, you are moving the scene camera which will affect your export.

To reset your camera
Do one of the following:
  • Double-click the Pan, Orbit, or Dolly tool.

  • Click the Camera menu (in the upper-left corner of the Canvas) and choose Reset View.

  • In the Properties tab of the Inspector, click the Transform parameters reset button.

Manipulating Objects in 3D Space

The 3D workspace provides tools for manipulating objects in 3D space. These tools include the 3D onscreen controls that directly manipulate the object, the 3D transform controls in the HUD, and the parameters in the Properties tab for the selected object.

To transform an object in 3D space
  1. Select the object that you want to transform and select the Adjust 3D Transform tool in the Toolbar.

    Figure. Adjust 3D Transform tool.

    Scale handles appear around the edge of the object, and three colored 3D axis handles appear at the anchor point of the object. Each arrow-shaped handle corresponds to an axis along which you can move the object.

    Figure. Canvas window showing 3D axis handles.
  2. Drag the appropriate transform handle, and the object moves along the selected axis.

    The red axis is X (horizontal), the green axis is Y (vertical), and the blue axis is Z (depth).

To rotate an object in 3D space
  1. Select the object that you want to transform and select the Adjust 3D Transform tool in the Toolbar.

    Scale handles appear around the edge of the object, and three colored 3D axis handles appear at the anchor point of the object. The three small circles near the axis handles are 3D rotation handles. Each rotation handle corresponds to an axis around which you can rotate the object.

  2. Position the pointer over one of the three rotation handles on either side or above the colored arrows.

    • The red ring indicates rotation around the X axis.

    • The green ring indicates rotation around the Y axis.

    • The blue ring indicates rotation around the Z axis.

  3. Once the 3D rotation handle is active, drag left or right in the Canvas to rotate the object around the selected axis.

Figure. Canvas window showing 3D rotation handles and the info window that appears as you rotate.
To reset a transformed object
  1. Select the object you want to reset.

  2. In the Properties tab of the Inspector, click the Transform parameters reset button.

    Figure. Transform parameters reset button in the Layers tab.

For more information on working in 3D and using the 3D transform tools in the HUD, see 3D Compositing.

Playing Your Project

Use the transport controls at the bottom of the Canvas to play your project and see how it looks over time. You can set playback to loop as well as set playback to begin and end on certain frames in your project. You can also turn audio on and off.

Figure. Transport controls.
  • Play/Pause: Starts and stops playback. The keyboard shortcut is the Space bar.
  • Loop playback: Controls whether playback loops indefinitely, or whether playback stops when the end of the play range is reached. The keyboard shortcut is Shift-L. For more information on setting a project play range, see Defining the Play Range.
  • Play from start: Plays from the play range In point to the play range Out point. This allows you to watch just a portion of the entire project. To learn how to define the In and Out points, see Defining the Play Range.
  • Go to start of project: Automatically returns your playhead to the beginning of the project. The keyboard shortcut is Home.
  • Go to end of project: Automatically moves the playhead to the end of the project. The keyboard shortcut is End.
  • Go to previous frame: Moves the playhead backward by one frame. Clicking the button (or holding down the shortcut key) rewinds the project one frame at a time. The keyboard shortcut is the Left Arrow (or Page Up) key.

    Note: If you are working on a Mac with a Multi-Touch trackpad, you can rotate left to go to the previous frame.

  • Go to next frame: Advances the playhead by one frame. Clicking the button (or holding down the shortcut key) advances the project one frame at a time. The keyboard shortcut is the Right Arrow (or Page Down) key.

    Note: If you are working on a Mac with a Multi-Touch trackpad, you can rotate right to go to the next frame.

  • Play/Mute audio: Turns audio playback on or off.

    Note: Turning audio off may improve your playback performance.

  • Record: Enables or disables animation recording. When recording is enabled, the value sliders for all animateable parameters appear with a pink tint in the Inspector. This is to inform you that any change you make to a parameter (such as moving an object in the Canvas or adjusting a slider) creates a keyframe.

    Note: When “Record keyframes on animated parameters only” is selected in the Recording Options dialog, keyframes are added only to parameters that are already animated. For more information, see Recording Keyframes on Animated Parameters Only.

RAM Preview

When you play your project, Motion performs complex calculations to represent the objects and effects that appear in each frame. This is called rendering. The project plays back as quickly as possible up to the frame rate specified in the Project Properties dialog. With a very complex project, the frame rate may be significantly reduced, making it difficult to see how the project looks when it is played at full frame rate.

You can render parts of your project and store the frames in RAM. This lets you play back your project and see it play at full frame rate. This is called RAM Preview. You can choose to render the play range, a selection, or the entire project (All). As the frames are rendered, a progress dialog appears and shows which frame is being rendered, how many more frames remain, and an approximation of the time remaining.

Figure. RAM Preview progress dialog.

You can interrupt the RAM Preview by clicking the Stop button. The section that has already been rendered is stored in RAM.

Note: Because different sections of the project can be of differing complexities, the Time remaining value may be somewhat inaccurate.

To RAM Preview your entire project
  • Choose Mark > RAM Preview > All.

    The RAM Preview dialog appears, and displays a progress bar. When the RAM Preview is completed, the dialog closes.

When a section of your project is currently stored in RAM, the Timeline and the mini-Timeline turn green to indicate which frames are stored.

Figure. Mini-Timeline and Timeline showing RAM Preview indicators.

RAM Previewing Regions

Previewing large sections of your project using RAM Preview requires large quantities of RAM to store the frames. You may not have enough RAM to store all of the frames you want to preview. You can restrict which frames are rendered either by choosing to preview the play range or a selection. Using RAM Preview on a selection renders all visible layers in the project from the first frame of the selection until the last.

To RAM Preview the play range
  • Choose Mark > RAM Preview > Play Range.

    The RAM Preview dialog appears, and displays a progress bar. When the RAM Preview is completed, the dialog closes.

To RAM Preview a selection
  1. In the Timeline, Command-Option-drag the region you want to preview.

    A light blue band appears over the selected frames.

    Figure. Selected region in the Timeline.

    For more information on regions, see Working with Regions.

  2. Choose Mark > RAM Preview > Selection.

    The RAM Preview dialog appears. When the RAM Preview is completed, the dialog closes.

Note: Working in 32-bit float color space has no effect on your RAM Preview. Although the project is rendered in float, the preview is down-converted to 8-bit for display on your monitor.

Clearing the RAM Preview

You can manually delete the RAM Preview to make room for a new RAM Preview or to free up RAM for other operations.

To clear the RAM Preview
  • Choose Mark > RAM Preview > Clear RAM Preview.

Mini-Timeline

The mini-Timeline lies just above the transport controls and below the Canvas. This control provides an at-a-glance look at where selected objects fit into your overall project. The mini-Timeline also has a playhead to indicate which frame you are viewing as well as In and Out markers to identify the play range. The length of the mini-Timeline represents the entire duration of the project.

Figure. Mini-Timeline showing In point, Out point, playhead, and selected clip.

You can drag the playhead through the mini-Timeline to scrub your project, or to jump quickly to a particular point in time. You can also change the play range or layer In and Out points by dragging the In and Out markers. When you drag an In or Out point, the playhead temporarily moves along with the pointer. This allows you to see the frame where your In or Out point will be set. When you release the mouse button, the playhead snaps back to its previous position.

Project markers set in the Timeline are indicated in the mini-Timeline by a thin, green line. For more information on project markers and object markers, see Adding Markers.

Note: Object markers do not appear in the mini-Timeline.

Editing in the Mini-Timeline

You can perform many nonlinear editing functions in the mini-Timeline. You can drag objects (such as clips or images, or items that have been saved to the Library, such as shapes, text, cameras, lights, and so on) from the utility window directly to the mini-Timeline. You can also move, trim, and slip objects to change which portion of the object appears at which point in time. For more information on editing functions such as Move, Trim, and Slip, see Editing Objects in the Timeline.

To add an object to the mini-Timeline
  1. Drag the object from the File Browser to the mini-Timeline.

    As you drag, a tooltip appears to indicate the frame where your edit will take place.

  2. When you reach the desired frame, release the mouse button.

    The object is added to the project beginning at that frame.

You can also add multiple objects to the mini-Timeline at once. You can choose to add the objects sequentially (one after another) or as a composite (all at the same point in time).

Tip: If the Timeline contains project markers, you can snap the imported object to a marker. Drag the layer over the mini-Timeline, and release the mouse button when a black bar appears at the snap point. The layer’s In point is the project marker.

Figure. Mini-Timeline showing a clip being added at a snap point.
To add multiple objects to the mini-Timeline
  1. Drag the objects from the File Browser to the mini-Timeline.

    As you drag, a tooltip appears to indicate the frame where your edit will take place.

  2. Continuing to hold down the mouse button, drag to the desired frame.

    A drop menu appears.

    Figure. Mini-Timeline showing drop options for multiple object selections.
  3. Choose the desired edit type from the drop menu, then release the mouse button.

    Depending on the item that is dragged to the Timeline, up to four different drop options are available. For more information on the Timeline drop menu, see Adding Objects to the Track Area.

To move an object in time
  1. In the Layers tab, Timeline layers list, or Canvas, select the object you want to move.

    The object appears in the mini-Timeline.

  2. In the mini-Timeline, drag the object to the left or right to reposition it in time.

    A tooltip appears to indicate the new In and Out point of the object, as well as the amount of change from the previous position.

    Figure. Mini-Timeline showing tooltip specifying In and Out point and change from previous position.
  3. When you reach the position you want, release the mouse button.

To shorten or lengthen an object
  1. Select the object to display it in the mini-Timeline.

  2. Position the pointer over the beginning or ending edge of the object.

    The pointer changes to a trim pointer.

    Figure. Mini-Timeline showing trim pointer.
  3. Drag the edge of the object to change its duration.

    A tooltip appears to indicate the new In or Out point and the amount of change that your edit is causing.

    You cannot trim an object to be longer than the amount of frames available in the corresponding media file unless its End Condition is set to Hold, Loop, or Ping Pong in the Timing controls of the Properties tab of the Inspector.

To slip a video clip (or other multi-frame object) in the mini-Timeline
  1. Select the multi-frame object you want to modify.

  2. Position the pointer over the body of the clip in the mini-Timeline and press the Option key.

    The pointer changes to a slip pointer.

  3. Drag the clip to the left or right to use a later or earlier part of the clip.

    A tooltip appears to indicate the new In and Out points.

    Figure. Mini-Timeline showing slip pointer and slip tooltip.

    Note: You cannot slip a clip unless it has been trimmed first. For more information, see Slipping Objects.

To snap the playhead to a project marker in the mini-Timeline
  • Press Shift and drag the playhead in the mini-Timeline.

Timecode and Current Frame Fields

There are two timecode fields at the bottom of the Canvas, to the left and right of the transport controls. The field to the left is the current frame field that shows the frame or timecode number where the playhead is positioned. You can change the playhead position by changing the number in the current frame field.

Figure. Current frame field.

The field to the right is the project duration field. This field indicates the length of your current project. You can modify the duration of the project by changing the number in this field. When a semicolon appears between the seconds and frames values, it indicates that timecode is being counted in the drop-frame format.

Figure. Duration field showing semicolon indicating drop-frame timecode.

Both fields can be modified in multiple ways and can be displayed either as incremental frame numbers or as eight-digit timecode numbers.

To change the current frame or duration
  • Click the field, type a new number into the field, and then press Tab or Return to confirm your entry.

To increase or decrease the current frame or duration one frame at a time
  • Click the left or right arrow for the field you want to change.

    Figure. Current frame field showing value slider controls.

    You can also move the playhead one frame at a time by pressing the Left Arrow key (or Page Up key) to move forward, and the Right Arrow key (or Page Down key) to move backward.

To change the duration in seconds, minutes, or hours, type the following in the project duration field
  • To set the duration in seconds, type the number of seconds followed by a period. For example, to create a 10-second project, type “10.” (10 followed by a period) in the field, then press Return.

  • To set the duration in minutes, type the number of minutes followed by two periods. For example, to create a 10-minute project, type “10..” (10 followed by two periods) in the field, then press Return.

  • To set the duration in hours, type the number of hours followed by three periods. For example, to create a 1-hour project, type “10...” (10 followed by three period) in the field, then press Return.

    This procedure works in timecode as well as frames.

To move ahead or back in seconds, minutes, or hours, type the following in the current frame field
  • To move forward in seconds, type a plus sign (+), then type the number of seconds you want to move forward, and then type a period. For example, to move 2 seconds ahead, type “+2.” (a period after the number two) then press Return. To move ahead in minutes, type two periods after the number then press Return. To move ahead in hours, type three periods after the number, then press return.

  • To move backward in seconds, type a minus sign (–), then type the number of seconds you want to move backward, and then type a period. For example, to move 2 seconds backward, type “–2.” in the field, then press Return. To move backward in minutes, type two periods after the number; to move backward in hours, type three periods after the number.

To move the playhead to a specific frame
  • With the Canvas or Project pane active, type the desired timecode or frame number into the current frame field. Press Return to confirm your entry.

To move forward a specific number of frames
  • Type a plus sign (+) followed by the number of frames you want to move forward.

To move backward a specific number of frames
  • Type a minus sign (–) followed by the number of frames you want to move backward.

To modify the current frame or duration dynamically
  • Click the center area of the field (where the numbers are), then drag to the left to increase the value, or to the right to decrease the value.

    Dragging the current frame field in this way is equivalent to dragging the playhead through the mini-Timeline.

To switch between timecode and frame numbers
Do one of the following:
  • Click the current frame icon directly to the left of the current frame field.

    Figure. Current frame field showing current frame icon.
  • Click the duration icon directly to the left of the project duration field.

    Figure. Duration field showing duration icon.

    Clicking either icon switches between frame and timecode view for all controls in all open projects.

Counting Time

Motion offers two different ways of looking at the frame numbers for your project. You can view the time as incremental frames, starting at 1 or 0 and continuing indefinitely. Or, you can view the time in the video-standard, eight-digit timecode system, which runs like a clock from 00:00:00:00 to 23:59:59:29. The first two digits represent the hours; the second two, the minutes; the third two, the seconds; and the final two, the frames, as in HH:MM:SS:FF.

Some formats of timecode also skip numbers in order to accommodate the inexact frame rates of certain video formats.

Both frames and timecode have advantages, depending mainly on the format with which you are originating and finishing. For example, if you are designing a title sequence for a 35 mm film that must be exactly 720 frames, it is easier to set your counters to frames.

If you are building a television spot that is going to be laid onto a videotape or broadcast, you would probably benefit from setting your counters to timecode, so that the frame numbers correspond with the numbers on the videotape.