Creating New Projects

Before you can do anything in Motion, you first need to create a new project. Depending on the type of project you are working on, there are three ways to do this. You can base your composition on one of the supplied templates, you can create a new blank project using one of the available project presets, or you can create a new project using your own custom settings if you need an unusual frame size or frame rate.

Motion is resolution-independent, meaning that it supports projects using a wide range of frame sizes and frame rates. Using Motion, you can create small movies for streaming on the web, standard definition and high definition movies for broadcast, or even film-resolution files for film output. Regardless of the resolution at which you’re working, Motion works exactly the same, although high-resolution projects using large media files may have higher memory and graphics card requirements than projects with smaller resolutions.

Important: Motion is hardware-dependent. This means that the type of graphics card installed on your system dictates performance and the maximum file size that you can import into Motion. For most recommended cards, the file size limit is 4 K or 8 K. However, other factors also impact performance, such as the bit depth of your projects, the VRAM on your computer system, and the number of monitors that are connected to your graphics card. For the best results, resize very large images to the largest size required in the project. For more information, visit the Motion website at

Note: Because of hardware limitations and differences, the appearance of projects shared between systems with different installed graphics cards may vary.

Each project has a single group of project properties that define the duration of the project, the size of the Canvas, the frame rate of playback, and other details that affect how your composition is formatted. Later, when you have finished your project and you’re ready to export it, the project properties you select define the media file that is created. Although you can change these settings at any time, it’s best to choose the settings that match your final planned output format.

Regardless of your project settings, Motion still allows you to add nearly any kind of media file supported by QuickTime to your project. Furthermore, you’re free to mix media files with different properties in the same project. For example, you can combine video clips of different frame sizes with graphics files. In the end, the file you output uses the frame size and frame rate specified by the project properties.

Welcome Screen

The first time you open Motion, a Welcome Screen presents you with two ways to create a new project. You can click Start with a Template to open the Template Browser, or you can click Start with a New Project to create a new blank project file.

Figure. Motion Welcome Screen.

By default, this screen always appears when you open Motion. If you don’t want to see this screen at startup, you can uncheck the “Show the Welcome Screen at startup” checkbox at the bottom. After you’ve made the desired selection, click Continue.

Note: You can also choose a different startup option from the At Startup pop-up menu in the General pane of Motion Preferences. The At Startup pop-up menu has four options:

  • Open Last Project(s): Automatically opens the last project(s) you worked on, whenever Motion is opened.
  • Create New Project: Opens the Select Project Preset dialog, allowing you to pick a preset to use to create a new, blank project file. If a default project preset is set, this dialog does not appear.
  • Show Welcome Screen: Shows the Welcome Screen every time Motion is opened.
  • Browse Templates: Opens the Template Browser, allowing you to pick a template to use.

For more information about options available in Motion Preferences, see Preferences.

Creating New Projects from Templates

The easiest way to create a new project in Motion is to open one of the existing templates and customize it for your own purposes. Motion templates are simply pre-made projects, available from the Template Browser, that are set up for easy customization. Motion comes with a variety of royalty-free templates that you can use and customize. Each template contains pre-made graphics, text objects, and backgrounds that you can use as is, or exchange with your own custom objects to make the design your own.

Eventually, you can extend this collection by creating your own templates of frequently used layouts. For example, if you regularly create titles and graphics sequences for a television series, you can create a group of templates for the show that contains layouts for every motion graphics shot you need. For future shows, you can then open these existing templates and customize them with updated text and graphics, without needing to recreate each layout from scratch.

The templates that come with Motion are available in NTSC, PAL, and HD resolutions. All templates are organized by themes.

To create a new project from a template
  1. To open the Template Browser, do one of the following:

    • When the Motion Welcome Screen opens, click Start with a Template.

    • If Motion is already open, choose File > Open Template (or press Command-Shift-O).

  2. When the Template Browser appears, use the Show pop-up menu to see templates that have been optimized for a specific video format, including NTSC, PAL, or HD.

    You can also choose to show All formats or Other formats.

    Figure. Template Browser showing preview area, Show pop-up menu, project description area, and project properties area.

    The Theme list shows all templates of the selected type.

  3. Click a template theme to display its contents at the right.

  4. Click an individual template to see a preview of it in the preview area, along with additional information including its resolution, duration, and frame rate.

  5. To create a new project from the selected template, click Open Template.

    A new project is created using the objects contained in that template. You can then customize the project by editing the text objects or exchanging the graphic elements it uses with your own. The changes you make to projects created using templates are not saved back to the source template file.

For more information about using, modifying, and creating templates, see Customizing and Creating New Templates.

Creating Blank Projects from Project Presets

If you’re creating a new project from scratch, but the final result is going to conform to one of the common standards for web delivery, broadcast, or film output, you can use one of the project presets that ships with Motion. Unlike a template, choosing a preset only defines the essential properties of the project, such as the frame size and frame rate. The resulting project is completely empty, ready for you to add your own objects.

Because you can have as many open project files in Motion as the amount of RAM in your computer supports, you can create a new project at any time without having to close projects that are already open.

To create a new project
  1. Choose File > New (or press Command-N).

    Figure. Project Preset dialog showing Preset pop-up menu options.
  2. Choose a preset from the pop-up menu, then click OK.

    A new project window is created. It is not saved to disk until you choose a save command from the File menu. For more information on saving project files, see Saving Projects.

    Note: If you have already set a default preset, Motion will open a new project window at that resolution, bypassing the Select Project Preset dialog.

Creating Blank Projects with Custom Settings

If none of the available presets meets your needs, you can create a new project with custom project settings from the same window.

To create a new project with custom project settings
  1. Choose File > New (or press Command-N).

    Note: If you have already set a default preset, hold down the Option key and choose File > New From Preset (or press Command-Option-N).

  2. Choose Custom from the bottom of the Preset pop-up menu.

    The Project Properties window appears.

  3. Choose the appropriate settings in the General and Render Settings tabs, then click OK.

    A new project window is created using the settings you specified.

General Tab of the Project Properties Window

The General tab allows you to define the most essential properties of the project you’re creating. By choosing different parameters, you can accommodate nearly any video or film format you need to output to. These properties are the default settings used when you export your project to create the final output file.

Figure. Project Properties window showing General tab.

The General tab contains the following settings:

  • Width and Height: Define both the size of the Canvas and the default output resolution of your project. Frame size is usually defined by the video format you plan on outputting to. For example, NTSC DV format video is 720 x 480, whereas PAL DV format video has a frame size of 720 x 576.
  • Dither: Selecting this checkbox adds a form a noise to prevent the appearance of banding or posterization when using lower bit depths.
  • Frame Rate: Choose a frame rate (in frames per second) that matches the format you’ll eventually be outputting to. For example, film is 24 fps, PAL video is 25 fps, and NTSC video is 29.97 fps. Additional frame rates are available for different video formats.
  • Duration: Allows you to enter the total duration available in your project’s Timeline. A pop-up menu allows you to define the duration with either a timecode value based on the currently selected frame rate, a frame count, or in seconds. The default value is 900 frames, or 30 seconds.
  • Start Timecode: This value sets the start timecode for display while working in the project.
  • Background Color: A color well that defines the background color that appears in the Canvas. If other graphics or QuickTime objects smaller than the Canvas are present in the project, this color appears behind those objects.
  • Project Description: A field into which you can enter a brief description of the project. It may also be useful to call out significant characteristics of that particular preset such as frame size or frame rate.

    For more information about commonly used frame sizes, frame rates, interlacing, and other project setting information, see Supported File Formats.

Render Settings Tab of the Project Properties Window

The Render Settings tab contains parameters that affect how Motion renders the objects and animation in your project. These settings can affect how your project looks when exported.

Figure. Project Properties window showing Render Settings tab.

The Render Settings tab is divided into two categories: Motion Blur and Reflections. The Motion Blur controls simulate the effect a camera’s mechanical shutter has on a frame of film or video when either the camera or its subject is moving. In Motion, motion blur affects objects in your project that are animated using behaviors or keyframes. This allows you to create more natural-looking motion in your project, even though the animation is artificially created. As with a camera, faster objects have more blur, whereas slower objects have less.

Figure. Canvas window showing effect of motion blur at mild and strong settings.

Important: Unlike Final Cut Pro or Final Cut Express, blur created by these parameters does not affect motion that occurs within a QuickTime movie file or an image sequence. It only affects animated objects.

The Motion Blur section of the Render Settings tab has two parameters:

  • Samples: The number of sub-frames rendered per frame, where 1 frame is 360 degrees. Higher Samples values result in a higher-quality motion blur effect, but are more processor-intensive. The default Samples value is 8. The maximum possible value is 256.
  • Shutter Angle: Defines the size of the motion blur that appears for animated objects. Increasing the shutter angle increases the number of frames over which the shutter is open.

    The following image shows a shape that has been keyframed to move quickly across the Canvas horizontally.

    Figure. Canvas window showing object with motion path.

    In the next image, Motion Blur is enabled and Samples is set to the default value of 8.

    Figure. Canvas window showing Motion Blur enabled at its default settings.

    Note: When using larger Shutter Angle values, it may be necessary to increase the Samples value to eliminate unwanted artifacts.

    In the above image, the Shutter Angle is set to the default of 360 degrees, which represents 1 frame. In the following image, Shutter Angle is set to 600 degrees.

    Figure. Canvas window showing Motion Blur with increased Shutter Angle.

    The Reflections section of the Render Settings tab has one parameter:

  • Maximum Bounces: When a reflective object is itself reflected in another object, the first object can be seen in the reflection, potentially causing an endless repetition of reflections. This parameter limits the number of “bounces” that can occur in a scene. The number of allowed reflections is set per project.

    For more information about reflections, see Reflections.

About Bit Depth

When working with images, an increase in bits per pixel for those images means more color information becomes available. A one-bit-per-pixel bitmap image is comprised of purely black or white image pixels (no shades of gray).

A grayscale image comprises image pixels with 256 levels of gray. Each pixel requires 8 bits to represent the 256 shades of gray. Therefore, the bit depth of a grayscale image is 8 (28 = 256).

An RGB image can comprise image pixels with 256 shades of each of the primary colors—red, green, and blue. In this case, there are 28 (256) shades of each color component. This creates more than 16.7 million possible colors (256 x 256 x 256 > 16.7 million). The bit depth of an RGB image can be 24 (8 bits for each color), and the bit depth of an RGBA image (red, green, blue, and an alpha channel) can be 32 (8 bits for each color + alpha channel). The bit depth of an alpha channel describes the transparency of each pixel. Although these images are 24- and 32-bit, such color images are often referred to as 8-bit (because of the 8 bits per channel).

Note: An RGB image does not necessarily imply 8 bits per pixel.

Motion’s bit depth setting is bits-per-channel. In an 8-bit Motion project, the 256 levels of color are represented on an integer scale of 0–255 (where 0 represents black and 255 represents white). All of your operations are clamped within that 0–255 range. There is a one-to-one ratio between each number and its represented color. In 8-bit mode, 16.7 million colors can be represented—equaling the number of possible combinations of 256 different color values from each red, green, and blue channel. Although that is a large number of colors, it is often helpful to have finer gradations of colors available. Using floating point calculations, color shades can be subdivided into an enormous amount of intermediate colors, providing orders of magnitude more colors available to your project palette. Incredibly small increments of color can be represented in 16-bit float, and even finer increments in 32-bit float.

The bit depth of your source footage will often determine the bit depth of your project. Even if your source footage is 8-bit, you may want to work in a project with a higher bit depth to achieve better results. When you increase the bit depth of your project, you are not introducing any new color information to the original images. However, operations such as keying, color correction, applying blur or other filters with high parameter values, or creating graphics that require very smooth color gradients can benefit from the new number of possible color levels.

Important: There is a price for working in higher bit depths, however. And that price is paid in processing time. Remember also that because Motion is hardware-dependent, most systems have a limitation on the size of imported files. For more information on the required hardware, visit the Motion website at

When exporting a 16-bit or 32-bit float project, keep in mind that most file formats available for export do not support float—including QuickTime (8-bit only). OpenEXR is a float format. TIFF, PNG, and Adobe Photoshop files support the 16-bit integer format.

Note: Depending on your project, dithering can be useful or problematic. For example, enabling dithering in a project in which banding is present may reduce the appearance of the banding. In a float project, dithering may cause excessive noise in the project’s output. For this reason, a checkbox has been added to the General tab of the Project Properties window that allows you to turn dithering on or off. This setting applies to the display and export of a project.

Creating, Editing, and Deleting Presets

If you commonly create projects using custom settings that don’t match any of the available presets, you can create a new preset with these settings for future use. Presets are created, modified, and deleted in the Presets pane of Motion Preferences.

Figure. Preferences window showing Presets tab.
To create a new custom preset
  1. Choose Motion > Preferences (or press Command-Comma).

  2. In the Presets pane, choose Project Presets from the Show pop-up menu.

  3. Click the Add button (+) beneath the presets list.

    The Project Preset Editor appears.

    Figure. Project Preset Editor.
  4. In the Project Preset Editor, do the following:

    1. In the Name field, type a descriptive name for the preset.

    2. In the Description field, enter a brief description of what that preset is for. It may also be useful to call out significant characteristics of that particular preset, such as frame size and frame rate.

    3. Enter a frame size into the Width and Height fields.

    4. Choose a Pixel Aspect Ratio, Field Order, and Frame Rate from the corresponding pop-up menus.

  5. Click OK.

  6. If you’re done creating new project presets, close the Motion Preferences window.

    Note: For more information on industry-standard frame sizes, pixel aspect ratios, field order, and frame rates, see Supported File Formats.

To choose a custom preset to be the new default
Do one of the following:
  • In the Presets pane of Motion Preferences, click the checkbox to the left of the preset you want to be the default for all newly created projects.

  • Choose File > New to display the Select Project Preset dialog. Choose a project preset from the Preset pop-up menu, click Set as Default, then click OK.

    You can also edit existing presets. This allows you to update a preset you’ve already created, or to make a new preset by customizing an existing one with similar settings.

To duplicate an existing preset prior to editing it
  1. In Motion Preferences, select a preset in the Presets pane.

  2. Click Duplicate.

    The duplicated preset appears underneath the original preset with “copy” appended to its title.

To edit an existing preset
  1. In Motion Preferences, select a preset in the Presets pane.

  2. Click Edit.

  3. When the Project Preset Editor appears, make any necessary changes, then click OK.

    Note: You cannot edit or delete locked project presets.

To delete a custom preset
  1. In Motion Preferences, select a preset in the Presets pane.

  2. Click the Delete button (–) underneath the presets list.

    Note: You cannot edit or delete locked project presets.

    Note: You cannot unlock a preset that is built into Motion. When the preset is double-clicked, an alert appears stating that the selected preset cannot be modified. To create a copy of the preset that you can customize, click OK.

Moving Presets Between Computers

Each preset you create is saved as a separate file. If you’ve created one or more custom presets that you rely on, you may want to move them to other computers you use that have Motion installed. All user-created presets are stored in the /Users/username/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Studio/Motion/Presets/Project/ folder.

To copy a project preset to another computer
  • Copy your custom preset files to that computer’s /Users/username/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Studio/Motion/Presets/Project/ folder.