Managing Projects

When you work on a project in Motion, it’s important to be organized. This includes keeping careful track of your project files, saving often, and maintaining regular backups. The idea is to make sure that nothing gets accidentally misplaced or deleted, and that you don’t lose work by deleting valuable digital resources. Motion also autosaves projects to files that can be retrieved at any time.

Saving Projects

As with any application, it’s a wise practice to save early and often as you work on your project. This way, you don’t lose work due to unforeseen circumstances such as a blackout occurring just as you were about to finish your latest animated masterpiece.

Besides preserving your work for future use, Motion’s save commands can be used in other ways to manage the development of your project. For example, if you’re happy with your current composition, but you want to create a variation of what you’ve done, you can use the Save As command to save a copy of the current project. You can then freely alter this duplicate, leaving your original project alone in case you don’t like your changes.

You can also use the Save As command as an archival tool, saving individually named copies of your project periodically over the course of its creation. This serves two purposes. First, it ensures that you have duplicates of your project file, protecting you from inadvertently misplacing your only copy and losing days of work. Second, it also gives you a way to go back to previous versions of your composition, in the event that you or your client want to make a change based on an earlier point in that project’s development.

To save a project
  1. Choose File > Save (or press Command-S).

    If the project has not already been saved, the Save As dialog appears.

    Figure. Save As dialog.
  2. Type a name into the Save As field, choose a location on your hard drive to save the file, then click Save.

    Note: If the project has already been saved, the project file is simply updated.

To save a duplicate of a project
  1. Choose File > Save As (or press Command-Shift-S).

    The Save As dialog appears.

  2. Type a new name into the Save As field, choose a location on your hard drive, then click Save.

Important: When using the Save As command, it’s important to use a name that is different from the name of any previously saved versions of the same project. Otherwise, you run the risk of overwriting a previous version of this project file that you want to keep. You’ll be warned if this happens.

To save all open projects
  1. Press Option, then choose File > Save All (or press Command-Option-S).

  2. If all open project files have already been saved, the Save All command simply updates them. If any open project has not been saved, enter a name in its Save As field, then click Save.

    Note: The Save All command only appears when you press Option while opening the File menu.

Collecting Media

When saving a project, Motion gives you the option to automatically gather together the media used in your project. The media is collected in a folder of your designation. The advantage to collecting your media is that it makes portability and backup easier, as well as organizing all your project media in a single place. By default, Collect Media is turned off.

To use the Collect Media save function
  1. Choose File > Save As (or press Command-Shift-S).

    The Save As dialog appears.

    Figure. Save As dialog showing Collect Media pop-up menu options.
  2. Choose Copy to Folder from the Collect Media pop-up menu.

    Choosing the Copy to Folder option creates a folder with the name specified in the Save As field. A Motion project file of the same name is created within that folder, as well as a folder named “Media,” which contains all the media used in the project.

    If the Collect Media option is used, you have the option to specify whether unused media are collected as well.

Using Autosave

Motion automatically saves backups of your project in a folder on your hard drive. In the Cache pane of Motion Preferences, you can specify how frequently projects are automatically saved, as well as the location of the saved files. Saved projects are time- and date-stamped. For more information about autosave, see Autosave.

To store autosaved projects in a specific location
  1. Choose Motion > Preferences (or press Command-Comma).

  2. Click Cache.

  3. In the Autosave group, turn on Use Autosave Vault.

    By default, the Autosave Vault folder is located in a folder called Motion Projects in your Documents folder in your home directory.

To set a new location for the Autosave vault
  • In the Cache pane of Motion Preferences, click Choose and select a new location in the dialog.

To revert to an autosaved project
  1. Choose File > Restore From Autosave.

    The Restore Project dialog appears.

  2. Choose a saved project from the pop-up menu.

Reverting Projects

The Revert command discards all changes you’ve made to a project since the last time you saved it. The Revert command is especially useful as a tool for trying out numerous changes in your project. You can save your project in the state you like it, then make all the changes you want. If you don’t like the result, use the Revert command to immediately go back to the way it was before.

Note: You can also use the application’s unlimited undo feature to achieve the same purpose in incremental steps. For more information on the Undo command, see Edit Menu.

To revert a project to the last saved version
  • Choose File > Revert.

    Important: This command cannot be undone.

Opening and Closing Projects

You can open one or more previously saved project files either in the Finder or from within Motion. You can have as many projects open at the same time as the amount of RAM in your computer can support. Your computer’s RAM is divided up among the operating system, any other applications that are currently open, and all currently open documents. If, at any point, you notice a decrease in performance because you’ve run out of RAM, simply quit one or more other applications, or close one or more open projects to free up RAM for the remaining open projects.

To open one or more project files in the Finder
Do one of the following:
  • Double-click a Motion project file. Motion automatically opens with that project.

  • Select one or more Motion project files, then drag them onto the Motion application icon either in the Applications folder or in the Dock, if you’ve placed one there.

  • Select one or more Motion project files, then choose File > Open (or press Command-O) in the Finder.

  • Select one or more Motion project files, Control-click one of them, then choose Open from the shortcut menu.

    Motion automatically starts and opens all selected projects.

To open a project file from within Motion using the Open command
  1. Choose File > Open (or press Command-O).

    The Open dialog appears.

  2. In the Open dialog, navigate to the project file you want, then click Open.

To open a project file from within the Motion File Browser
  1. In the File Browser, navigate to the project file you want and then select the file.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Double-click the project file.

    • In the Preview area, click the Import button.

      The project opens in a new Canvas.

Opening Recent Projects

Every project you open in Motion is automatically added to the Open Recent submenu in the File menu. You can choose a project from a list of projects that you’ve worked on recently from this submenu. Motion keeps the names of the previous projects you’ve worked on in the Open Recent submenu.

To open a recent project
  • From the File menu, choose a project’s filename from the Open Recent submenu.

    If the Open Recent submenu becomes too crowded, you can clear it out.

To clear the Open Recent submenu
  • Choose File > Open Recent > Clear Menu.

Managing Multiple Open Projects

Each open project is self-contained in its own window, and each has its own Layers, Media, Audio, Timeline, Keyframe, and Audio Editor tabs.

There are expose commands within Motion that allow you to visually access all the layers in a project directly in the Canvas, quickly selecting items without having to drill down into the Layers tab or Timeline. For more information, see Expose Commands.

Note: You can use the Expose system commands to see all open project windows at once. For more information on how to use the system’s Expose commands see Mac Help, available in the Finder Help menu.

Closing Projects

You can close projects either one at a time, or all at once. You close a project by closing its project window (the window containing the Canvas).

To close a single project
Do one of the following:
  • Press Control-W to close the currently selected window.

  • Click the Canvas window’s close button.

To close all open projects
Do one of the following:
  • Press Command-Option-W.

  • Option-click the close button.

Moving and Archiving Motion Project Files

If you want to move a Motion project file to another computer, you must also move all the media that the project uses along with it, including all QuickTime, still image, and audio files. In addition, if your project uses any third-party Motion plug-ins or nonstandard fonts or LiveFonts, you need to make sure that those are also installed on the computer you’re moving the project to, or they’ll be unavailable to your project.

Similarly, when you’re finished with a project and you want to archive it, it’s a good idea to archive not just the project file, but also all media used (especially media that wasn’t captured from a device-controllable video or audio source), graphics, fonts, custom behaviors, filters, or third-party add-ons used by that project. In the event you want to restore the project for later revisions, you’ll have everything you need to get started quickly. If you have a recordable CD or DVD drive, backing up your media is easy. For more information on copying files to a recordable CD or DVD disc, see Mac Help in the Finder Help menu.

The easiest way to collect all the media used in your project is to use the Collect Media feature. For more information, see Collecting Media.

Note: If you move a project to another computer without collecting, its media may go offline even though you’ve moved its media files along with it. For more information on how to relink media files to your project, see Online Versus Offline Media.

Archiving QuickTime Video

If you use QuickTime video clips in a Motion project that you want to archive for long-term storage, whether or not you also archive the video clips themselves depends on how they were captured. For example, if you captured your video using a device-controllable camcorder or deck with Final Cut Express or Final Cut Pro, archiving the video clips you used may be unnecessary. This is because you can always recapture them from the original source tapes using the Final Cut project file you logged them with. In this case, it’s a good idea to back up the Final Cut Express or Final Cut Pro project file along with your Motion project file.

If you captured your video without device control, or if the video was captured by someone else and you no longer have the ability to recapture the clips exactly as they appear in your project, it’s probably a good idea to back up these clips along with the rest of the graphics files, audio files, and fonts you used in your project.

Unused Media

By default, media used by objects added to your project are managed automatically by Motion. If you delete an object from the Canvas or Layers tab, the source media is removed automatically from the Media tab. You can turn off this feature in the General pane of Motion Preferences. For more information, see Media.

Searching for Projects Using the Finder

Spotlight indexes certain properties of your Motion projects, allowing you to perform advanced searches. Use Spotlight in the Finder to take advantage of this feature. The following properties of Motion projects are indexed by Spotlight and can be searched for:

Project property
Project width, in pixels
Project height, in pixels
Project duration, in seconds
Layer name
The name of any layer in your project
Media name
The name of any media object in your project
The path to any media object in your project
The content of any text object in your project
The text in the Project Description field in Project Properties
Marker name
The name of any marker in the Timeline of your project
Marker comment
The text of any marker comment in your project

Editing Project Properties

Even though every project starts out with a preset group of project properties, you can change these properties at any time, even after you’ve added objects.

To edit the properties of an existing project
  1. Choose Edit > Project Properties (or press Command-J).

  2. In the Project Properties dialog, change any necessary parameters, then click OK.

For more information on the parameters available in the Project Properties dialog, see General Tab of the Project Properties Window and Render Settings Tab of the Project Properties Window.

Most changes made to a project’s properties are fairly transparent and have no visual effect on the project itself. The main exception is a change made to the project’s frame size.

Changing the Frame Size of a Project

When you change the frame size of a project (in Project Properties) that already has objects within it, you essentially change the size of the Canvas. This adds to, or reduces, the amount of room available to lay out the objects in your project.

It’s important to understand that changing the size of the Canvas in no way changes the size or position of any objects already placed within it. Furthermore, since the coordinate system used by Motion uses 0, 0 as the center of the frame, all objects remain arranged in their current positions relative to the center of the frame as the edge of the frame shrinks toward the center. This may result in objects being cut off as the frame shrinks past their edges. In the following example, a project with a frame size of 720 x 480 is reduced to 320 x 240.

Figure. Canvas window showing reduced frame size.

Note: Because Motion is resolution-independent, it’s not usually necessary to change your project’s frame size. You can output your projects at any size, regardless of the current frame size, by changing the options in Motion’s export dialogs. For example, if you’re building a project with a frame size for standard definition broadcast, you can still export a half-resolution version of your project to post on the web simply by exporting to the necessary size.