About the Timeline

The Timeline consists of the Timeline layers list on the left and a track area on the right. You can add images and clips to your project using the Timeline, just as you add files to the Layers tab or the Canvas. You can drag objects into the Timeline layers list, or drag them directly into the Timeline track area. The Timeline ruler, located above the track area, provides an exact reference for managing timing and synchronizing effects. You can lock tracks to prevent changes, temporarily hide an object from view, and manage links between audio and video.

Figure. Timeline tab showing Timeline layers list, ruler, and track area.

Although you can perform many types of effects without ever using the Timeline, it is an essential tool when you want to manipulate the timing of the contents of your project. Motion integrates many of the features ordinarily reserved for nonlinear editing software into the compositing workflow.

The Timeline is not displayed by default in the Standard layout. It can be viewed by displaying the Timing pane.

To display the Timing pane
Do one of the following:
  • Click the Timing icon (in the upper-right corner of the Toolbar).

    Figure. Timing icon in the Toolbar.
  • Drag the divider beneath the Play button in the transport controls upward.

    Figure. Dragging the divider to reveal reveal Timing pane.
  • Choose Window > Layouts > Cinema.

  • Press F6.

    Cinema Layout moves the Inspector to the right side of the interface and displays the Timing pane.

  • If you are working on a Mac with a Multi-Touch trackpad, you can use a three-finger swipe up to display the Timing pane. Use a three-finger swipe down to hide the Timing pane.

Note: To change interface layouts, choose Window > Layouts, then choose Standard, Alternate, or Cinema. You can also create and save your own layout arrangements. See Window Arrangements for more information on layouts.

If the Timing pane is already displayed, you may need to click the Timeline tab to bring it to the front.

Timeline Tracks

Each object in your project appears as a colored bar in the track area of the Timeline. Tracks are arranged in a hierarchy identical to that of the Layers tab in the Project pane. This allows you to quickly see each object’s place in time, as well as its relative position and duration.

You can determine the type of each object in the track area based on its appearance.

Item
How it appears
Description
Group
Figure. Group bar.
A double blue bar. For groups with multiple layers, the lower bar displays three lines and a value indicating the number of layers in the group.
Layers (video, stills, shapes, text, particles, replicators, cameras, lights)
Figure. Layer bar.
A blue bar
Masks
Figure. Mask bar.
A gray bar
Behaviors and Filters
Figure. Behavior bar.
A thin purple bar
Keyframes
Figure. Layer bar showing keyframes.
Blue diamonds beneath the track that is keyframed. Selected keyframes appear white.
Audio
Figure. Audio object bar.
A green bar displaying the audio waveform. If the audio file has an applied Audio behavior, the purple bar appears underneath the audio track.

When you select an object, the color changes to a darker shade, and the name of the object turns white. When the Timeline is in Filmstrip mode, the filmstrip frames are highlighted with a white border. See Specifying the Track Display for more information on how to set different Timeline view modes.