Adjusting Object Properties in the Inspector

Groups and objects have many of the same parameters in the Properties tab of the Inspector. Manipulating an onscreen transform handle also changes the corresponding parameter in the Properties tab of the Inspector. If you want to transform an object more precisely than the onscreen controls allow, you can change that parameter’s value directly.

When you select a single object and open the Properties tab of the Inspector, the object’s parameters are displayed. Making changes to the values in the Properties tab affects the selected object. If more than one object is selected in the Canvas, Timeline, or Layers tab, the parameter values displayed in the Properties tab of the Inspector become inaccessible. However, you can still adjust the onscreen controls. Manipulating any of the onscreen transform handles affects every selected object equally.

To modify parameter values in the Properties tab of the Inspector
Do one of the following:
  • Select a parameter value field, type a new number, then press Return.

  • If the parameter has a graphical control, such as a slider or dial, adjust the control.

  • To reset a parameter to its default state, either click its reset button, or choose Reset Parameter from the parameter’s Animation menu.

Important: The Lighting and Reflection parameter groups are available only in a 3D project.

In addition to only being available in a 3D project, the Lighting and Reflection parameter groups in the Properties tab are only available for some objects under certain conditions. Use the following guidelines when working with lights and reflections:

For more information on how to use the parameter controls, see User Interface Controls.

Parameters in the Properties Tab

The Properties tab displays the following parameters for most objects and groups:

Transform Parameters
  • Position: Defines the X (horizontal), Y (vertical), and Z (depth) position of each object.

    The coordinate system used by Motion specifies the center of the Canvas as 0, 0, 0 regardless of the frame size of the project. Moving an object to the left subtracts from the X value, while moving to the right adds to the X value. Moving an object up adds to the Y value, and moving an object down subtracts from the Y value. Moving an object closer adds to the Z value, while moving further away subtracts from the Z value.

    Figure. Diagram showing that Motion's coordinate system puts 0,0 at the center of the Canvas.

    Note: This is identical to the coordinate system used by Final Cut Pro and Final Cut Express, but different from that used by Shake, in which 0,0 defines the upper-left corner of the compositional area.

    Each object’s position is centered on its anchor point. Offsetting the anchor point also offsets the position of the object relative to the X, Y, and Z position values you have set.

  • Rotation: Controls a one-dimensional value representing the number of degrees of rotation. A positive value rotates the object counterclockwise. A negative value rotates the object clockwise.

    Rotating an object beyond 360 degrees results in multiple rotations when the Rotation parameter is animated.

    Click the disclosure triangle next to the Rotation parameter to reveal additional subparameters:

    • Animate: This pop-up menu allows you to set the interpolation for animated 3D rotation channels to one of two options:
      • Use Rotation: The default interpolation method. Pattern elements rotate from their start rotation to their final rotation. Depending on the animation, the elements may twist this way and that before reaching their final orientation (the last keyframed value). For example, if the X, Y, and Z Angle parameters are animated from 0 degrees to 180 degrees in a project, the elements rotate on all axes before reaching their final orientation.

      • Use Orientation: This alternate interpolation method provides for smoother interpolation but does not allow multiple revolutions. It interpolates between the pattern elements’ start orientation (first keyframe) to their end orientation (second keyframe).

      Note: The Rotation parameter must be keyframed for the Animate parameter options to have any effect.

  • Scale: Controls the percentage representing the object’s scale, relative to its original size. By default, the horizontal and vertical scale of an object is locked together at the object’s original aspect ratio—all of which is represented by a single percentage. Click the disclosure triangle to display independent percentages for the X, Y, and Z scales of the object.

    Note: Setting an object’s scale to a negative value flips the object.

  • Shear: Defines the X and Y shear of the object. An object with no shear has X and Y shear values of 0. Positive values shear in one direction, while negative values shear in the other.
  • Anchor Point: Defines the X, Y, and Z position of the anchor point relative to the center of the object. Coordinates of 0, 0, 0 center the anchor point in the bounding box defining the outer edge of the object.
Blending Parameters
  • Opacity: Defines the transparency of the object. For more information, see Editing Opacity and Blending Parameters.
  • Preserve Opacity: When this checkbox is selected, the object appears only where another object is visible behind it in the composite. The front object uses the opacity value of the object behind it. For more information, see Preserve Opacity Option.
    Figure. Canvas window showing the effect of the Preserve Opacity checkbox.
Lighting Parameters
  • Highlights: When this checkbox is selected, lit objects in the scene show highlights. This parameter has no effect if Shading is set to Off.
    • Shininess: Determines how strong an object’s highlights appear. Higher values create a glossier appearance.

      For more information on using lights, see Lighting.

Shadows Parameters
  • Cast Shadows: Sets whether or not an object will cast a shadow if it is between a light source and another object.

    Note: This parameter does not affect drop shadows.

  • Receives Shadows: Controls whether or not neighboring objects’ shadows will affect the current object. When this checkbox is deselected, light will affect the object as if the shadow-casting object did not exist.
  • Shadows Only: Allows an object to block light and cast a shadow, while the object itself does not appear in the scene.

    Note: For more information on using shadows, see Shadows.

Reflection Parameters
  • Reflectivity: A slider that controls the shininess of the object’s surface. When set to 0%, there is no reflectivity. When set to 100%, the object is totally reflective, like a mirror.
  • Blur Amount: A slider that controls how blurry the reflection appears, creating the appearance of soft-focus due to the surface quality of the reflecting object.
  • Falloff: Determines whether the reflection fades with distance from the object, producing a more realistic result. Click the disclosure triangle to show the additional options within the Falloff section: Begin Distance, End Distance, and Exponent (how quickly the reflection gets fainter as the object gets further from the surface).
Additional Parameters in the Properties Tab
  • Drop Shadow: Turns the drop shadow of an object on and off. For more information about working with drop shadows, see Drop Shadows.
  • Four Corner: Turns corner-pinning on and off. If an object has been corner-pinned and this checkbox is deselected, the object resumes its original shape, although the corner-pinning coordinates are maintained. Reselecting the checkbox re-enables the corner-pinning effect specified by the Four Corner coordinate parameters.

    Click the disclosure triangle to display four two-dimensional parameters that define the polygonal transform of a corner-pinned object. Individual parameters for the Bottom Left, Bottom Right, Top Right, and Top Left corners of the bounding box that surrounds an object have individual X and Y coordinates.

  • Crop: Turns cropping on and off. If an object has been cropped and this checkbox is deselected, the object resumes its original size, although the cropping values are maintained. Reselecting the checkbox re-enables the cropping effect specified by the crop parameters.

    Click the disclosure triangle to display four crop parameters. Each slider defines the number of pixels to be cropped from each of the object’s four sides, relative to the outer edge of the bounding box that surrounds it. These parameters are similar to the crop parameters that appear when an object is selected in the Media tab, except that cropping an object in the Layers tab only crops the currently selected instance of that object in your project. Duplicates of that object remain untouched. If you want to crop all instances of the object simultaneously, use the Crop parameter on the object in the Media tab. For more information, see Controls in the Media Tab of the Inspector.

  • Timing: These parameters control all aspects of clip retiming. For more information, see Retiming.