Managing Layers in Your Project

When you add a file to your project, a corresponding layer appears in the Canvas, Layers tab, and Timeline. Once added, you can duplicate any layer in the Canvas, Layers tab, and Timeline to create as many copies as you need. Each copy you create has individual parameters in the Inspector, which gives you the freedom to individually modify and animate each duplicate layer as necessary.

The Relationship Between Objects in the Layers Tab and Media Tab

Every file you add to your project creates a new corresponding object in the Media tab, even if it’s identical to other files you have already added. This means that if you drag the same file into your project five times from the File Browser, five corresponding objects are created in the Media tab.

On the other hand, if you duplicate a layer that’s already in your project, a relationship is maintained between that instance of the object and the previously existing object in the Media tab. No new layer is created in the Media tab.

By default, objects added to your project are managed automatically by Motion. If you delete a layer from the Canvas or Layers tab, the media object 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.

Duplicating Files

If you need more copies of an object in your project, either duplicate them directly in the Canvas using the Duplicate command, or drag an object from the Media tab to the Canvas or Timeline to create a new corresponding instance of that object. Another way to duplicate an object is to use the Make Clone Layer command. For more information on the Make Clone Layer command, see Making Clone Layers.

It is easier to manage all duplicated layers using the media object’s Media tab parameters in the Inspector. These parameters define the media object’s essential properties, including the frame rate, pixel aspect ratio, interlacing, and alpha channel parameters. There are also additional parameters that allow you to define each media object’s end condition, reversal, cropping, and timing. Each media object’s parameters affect all layers in the project that have a relationship to the corresponding media object in the Media tab, so changing the media object’s parameters simultaneously updates every layer in your project to which it is related.

For more information on a media object’s Media tab parameters, see Object Media Tab Parameters.

Seeing the Relationships Between Objects

There are two object parameters where you can see the relationship between objects in the Layers tab and objects in the Media tab.

  • The Media parameter appears in the Properties tab of the Inspector whenever you select an object in the Layers tab. The Media parameter is an image well that displays the source media in the Media tab to which the currently selected object corresponds.

  • The Linked Objects list appears in the Media tab of the Inspector whenever you select an object in the Media tab of the Project pane. This list displays all objects in the Layers tab that correspond to the selected source media. Changing an object’s name in the Layers tab automatically updates the name that appears in the Linked Objects list.

Using the Reveal Source Media Command

A fast way to find any layer’s source media in the Media tab is to use the Reveal Source Media command.

To reveal a layer’s source media in the Media tab
Do one of the following:
  • Control-click a layer in the Canvas, Layers tab, or Timeline, then choose Reveal Source Media from the shortcut menu.

  • Select the layer, then choose Object > Reveal Source Media (or press Shift-F).

    The Inspector opens and displays the Media tab. At the same time, the Media tab in the Project pane opens. The source media is selected, and its Media tab parameters are exposed in the Inspector.

Online Versus Offline Media

As mentioned earlier, adding a layer to a Motion project creates a link between the layer in your project and its corresponding media file on disk. When you delete, move, or rename files on disk that are linked to layers in Motion, those files go offline, meaning that they’re temporarily unavailable to your project. This can also happen if you give someone a project file without also providing them with the source media it uses.

When you first open a project file with media that is unavailable, a dialog appears listing all the media files that can’t be found. Assuming the media has been moved to another folder or disk instead of being deleted, you have the option to search every disk connected to your computer to find them. If you know the location of the missing media, you can display a manual reconnection dialog to navigate directly to the files without having to search.

Figure. Dialog showing list of files with missing media.
To reconnect the media files in this list using Search
  1. Click Search.

    Motion attempts to automatically find the first missing file in the list. If it is found, a dialog appears with the missing media file selected. If it is not found, a manual reconnection dialog appears, giving you the option to navigate to the file manually.

  2. In the manual reconnection dialog, click Open to reconnect the media.

    If a file has been renamed, you’ll have to find it manually.

  3. To find a file manually, navigate to the renamed file’s location, select it, then click Open.

    If more than one of the missing media files appears in the same folder, all files are automatically reconnected.

To cancel an active search
  1. Click Cancel.

    Figure. Media Search progress bar dialog showing Cancel button.

    The manual reconnection dialog appears.

  2. In the dialog, navigate to the file’s location, then click Open.

To reconnect the media files in this list using Reconnect
  1. Click Reconnect.

  2. In the manual reconnection dialog, navigate to the file’s location, then click Open.

    If a layer in your project file is offline and you do not immediately reconnect it upon opening the project, it appears as a checkered rectangle that occupies the entire bounding box of the layer.

    Figure. Canvas window showing object with offline media.

If you do not immediately reconnect an offline layer, you can still save changes to the project and even close it again, and reconnect the offline layers later. You can reconnect these offline layers at any time.

To reconnect a layer in a project with its source media on disk
  1. Open the Media tab in the Project pane.

  2. Select the offline layer you want to reconnect.

  3. Open the Media tab in the Inspector.

  4. Click the Replace Media File button that appears underneath the Linked Objects parameter.

    Motion attempts to automatically find the first missing file in the list. If it is found, a file dialog appears with the missing media file selected.

  5. Click Open to reconnect it.

    Note: You can also use the File > Reconnect Media command.

    The offline layer comes online, and the original graphic appears. If more than one missing media file appears in the same folder, all files are automatically reconnected.