Browsing Media Files in Motion

This section describes how to browse the media files you want to use in your Motion project. As with project files, it’s important to make sure that the source media you’re using is organized in a way that makes sense and is easy to keep track of. Centralizing source media that’s only used in one project can be helpful, as is carefully organizing media that is shared by more than one project.

Navigation Controls in the File Browser

You use the File Browser to navigate every volume connected to your computer for media files to add to your Motion project. While similar to a Finder window, the File Browser has many custom controls specific to Motion that allow you to quickly locate and preview files you might want to use.

Note: You can also browse for and import files directly from your iTunes and iPhoto libraries from within the Motion Library. For more information, see Adding iTunes and iPhoto Files from the Library.

Figure. File Browser showing navigation controls.
  • Sidebar: This area of the File Browser displays all the hard disks and removable media currently connected to your computer. You can also access networked volumes. Additional icons allow you to access commonly used folders in your home folder such as the Desktop, Documents, Movies, Music, and Pictures folders.
  • File stack: Located beneath the sidebar, the file stack displays all the files and folders within the currently selected disk in the sidebar. Clicking a folder opens its contents into the file stack, replacing the previously displayed contents. You can navigate up and down the current folder hierarchy using the Back and Forward buttons and the Path pop-up menu. The file stack can be switched between list view and icon view.
  • Preview area: Displays a preview of the currently selected file in the file stack. If a movie is selected, the Play button allows you to play through the clip. Information about the clip being previewed appears to the right of the thumbnail preview.
  • Back and Forward buttons: These buttons allow you to navigate your browsing history. Clicking the left arrow moves you to the last item browsed. Repeatedly clicking the left arrow eventually moves you up to the first item you selected, such as the Desktop, a partition, or your home folder. Once you have reached the beginning of your browsing history, the left arrow is dimmed. Clicking the right arrow takes you forward in your browsing history. If you have never opened any folders within the currently open folder in the file stack, the right arrow is dimmed.
  • Search field: The Search field filters the file stack for the search terms you’ve entered.

Controls for Customizing the File Browser

Use these controls to customize the appearance of the File Browser.

  • File Browser divider: Dragging this divider up and down allows you to reallocate space between the File Browser sidebar and the file stack. Shrinking the sidebar also shrinks each displayed icon, down to a certain point.
  • Icon View button: Sets the file stack to display each file and folder as an icon. Image and movie files are represented by a thumbnail image, while folders are represented by a folder icon. All icons in the stack are arranged into a grid, the size of which is defined by a scale slider at the bottom of the File Browser.
  • List View button: Sets the file stack to display each file and folder as a hierarchical list. A thumbnail of each file and folder appears to the left of each file and folder name within the Name column. To the right, several additional columns display information for the date, size, duration, and kind of each file. The contents of the file stack can be sorted by any single column by clicking that column’s header. Clicking the same header twice reverses the sort order, from ascending to descending, or vice versa.
    Figure. Icon view and List view buttons in the File Browser.

    Folders in this list can be opened hierarchically, using the disclosure triangle to the left of each folder’s icon, or they can be double-clicked to replace the current contents of the file stack with the contents of that folder.

    Figure. File Browser showing file stack set to icon view and set to list view.
  • Scale slider: When in icon view, this slider enlarges or reduces the size of all icons displayed in the file stack. The current scale size affects how many icons can be simultaneously viewed within the current area of the file stack. The file stack can be enlarged with the File Browser divider.
  • “Show image sequences as collapsed” button: Image sequences are movie clips that have been saved as individual image files, one for each frame of film or video. Clicking this button allows you to view properly named image sequence files as a single image sequence file. In the event that you’re viewing image files that have numbered filenames that aren’t actually an image sequence (such as images captured with a digital camera that you’ve imported from an iPhoto directory), you can turn this control off to see each individual image file separately.
  • New Folder button: Allows you to create a new folder within the currently displayed location in the file stack. These new folders are created in the Finder and allow you to reorganize media files on disk from within Motion.

    Note: To delete a folder from the File Browser, select the folder, then press Command-Delete.

Different Methods of Browsing, Searching, and Previewing Files

This section contains procedures you can use to look for and preview files using the controls in the File Browser.

To browse the contents of a disk
Do one of the following:
  • Click the disk’s icon in the File Browser sidebar.

  • Press the Up Arrow and Down Arrow keys to move up and down the sidebar list.

To browse the file stack in icon view
Do one of the following:
  • Double-click a folder in the file stack to open its contents into the file stack.

  • Click an icon in the file stack, then press the arrow keys to change the selected folder. To open the currently selected folder, press Return.

To browse the file stack in list view
Do one of the following:
  • Double-click a folder in the file stack to open its contents into the file stack.

  • Click the disclosure triangle to the left of a folder’s icon to open its contents into a hierarchical list.

  • Click a list item, then press the Up Arrow and Down Arrow keys to navigate the list.

  • Press the Right Arrow key to open the selected folder into hierarchical view—this has the same effect as clicking a folder’s disclosure triangle. Press the Left Arrow key to close a folder that’s been opened hierarchically.

  • Press the Return key to open a folder’s contents into the file stack.

To navigate the current file path hierarchy
Do one of the following:
  • Click the Forward button to move to the previously opened folder.

  • Click the Back button to move to the last previously opened folder down the current folder hierarchy.

  • Choose a folder in the current hierarchy from the Path pop-up menu.

To sort the file stack in list view
  • Click the header of any information column to sort by that category. Click the same column a second time to reverse the sort order, from ascending to descending, or vice versa.

To search for a file
  • Type a search term in the Search field. The file stack immediately updates with files that contain the search term anywhere within their filenames. Only disks or folders currently displayed in the file stack are searched. Character case is ignored.

    For example, typing “flag” in the Search field might result in the following filenames appearing in the file stack: “Dutch Flag.tif,, flagellum.tif, Iron Flag.m4a.”

To clear the search results
  • Click the Clear button at the far right of the Search field to restore the contents of the file stack to the previously selected file path.

To preview a file
  • Select any supported media file in the file stack. The Preview area updates with a thumbnail and additional text information about that file. If “Play items automatically on a single click” is selected in the General pane of Motion Preferences, an animated preview of movie clips and image sequences begins playing.

To preview a file at full size
  • Double-click a file in the file stack to open it into its own viewer window, complete with playback controls.

About Networked Disks and Removable Media

You should be careful when adding media files from a remote server to your project. Although the File Browser sidebar allows you to easily access the contents of disks on other computers on your network, doing so only places a link to that file in your project. The actual media file remains on the remote disk where you found it. As a result, whenever that remote disk becomes unavailable, the corresponding object in your project goes offline. Furthermore, depending on the speed of your network, you may experience performance issues when using media files on other computers. Ideally, you should copy all media files you want to use in your project onto a disk that’s physically connected to your computer, both to ensure the file’s future availability, and to guarantee playback performance. If you do use media from a networked hard drive, make sure it’s one that is always mounted on your system, and that you have a high-performance network.

This is especially true for media from removable disks, such as CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, and removable hard drives that are frequently disconnected from your computer. Always copy media files from such media to your local hard drive so that the media doesn’t become unavailable when the media is ejected or disconnected.