Timeline Layers List

The Timeline layers list mirrors the Layers tab in the Project pane and displays your project objects (groups, layers, filters, behaviors, and so on) and their stacking order. Behaviors, filters, masks, and keyframes applied to an object can also be displayed. In the Timeline layers list, you can reorder objects. This change is immediately reflected in the Layers tab in the Project pane. You can also lock tracks to prevent further editing on those tracks and disable entire tracks to omit them from view in the Canvas.

Figure. Timeline tab showing layers list.

Naming Objects in the Timeline Layers List

You can rename any object in Motion. This can be helpful if you are using more than one version of an asset, using multiple cameras, or if you want to categorize things into named groups. Masks, shapes, particles, and other content you generate within Motion are created with generic names. Renaming them allows you to better manage and keep track of them while you work.

To rename an object
  1. In the Timeline layers list, double-click the name of the object.

  2. Type a new name in the editable text field.

  3. Press Return or Tab.

    Although Motion allows you to rename objects you import from your disk, changing the object’s name in the Timeline layers list does not modify the name of the file on disk. This allows you to use one source clip multiple times and name each instance uniquely inside Motion.

Enabling Timeline Tracks

To the left of each track in the Timeline layers list is an activation checkbox that turns that track on and off. When a track is turned off (disabled), it is ignored in the Canvas. Not only can you turn video or audio on and off, but you can also disable or enable effects such as masks, filters, and behaviors.

Figure. Activation checkbox and a disabled track in the Timeline.
To turn visibility for an object on or off
  • Click the checkbox at the left edge of the track you want to control.

    When the box is checked, visibility is on, and when the box is unchecked, visibility is off. Additionally, when a track is disabled, the entire track is dimmed in the Timeline.

Collapsing and Expanding Groups and Layers

Motion allows you to collapse and expand different parts of the Timeline layers list to show more or less data to accommodate different working styles. Layers with applied masks, filters, and other objects can be collapsed to hide those effects bars. Furthermore, whole groups can be collapsed to hide all of the objects contained within them.

When a layer or group is collapsed in this manner, it still appears in the Canvas window. Unlike enabling or disabling tracks, collapsing and expanding the Timeline layers list is only an organizational tool to help manage the view of the Timeline.

Fgure. Group disclosure triangle in the Timeline tab.
To collapse or expand a layer or group in the Timeline
  • Click the disclosure triangle to the left of the layer or group name. If no disclosure triangle is present, that object cannot be collapsed or expanded any further.

Adding and Deleting Groups in the Timeline

Motion allows you to add and delete groups directly in the Timeline layers list. If nothing is selected in the list when a new group is added, the new group appears at the top of the list. If an object is selected, the new group is added directly above the selected object.

To add a group
  • Click the Add button (+).

    Figure. Add button in the Timeline tab.

You can also add a group by dragging a new item into your project.

To delete a group
  1. Select the group you want to delete.

  2. Click the Delete button (–).

    You can also click the Delete button to remove any selected object (camera, layer, group, filter, and so on) in the Timeline layers list. You can also Control-click a track, then choose Delete from the shortcut menu.

Locking Timeline Tracks

Occasionally, you may want to prevent changes to a particular item. The lock icon at the right edge of the Timeline layers list allows you to lock an object and prevent any changes from affecting that object. An object that is locked in the Timeline also appears locked in the Layers tab in the Project pane.

Figure. Lock icon and locked tracks in the Timeline.

When an item is locked, the bounding box in the Canvas turns from white to red and the colored bar appears with a cross-hatched pattern.

Locked tracks still appear in the Canvas and are included in your final output. Although you cannot make changes to a locked object, you can still copy or duplicate that object or change the object’s layer order.

To lock a track
  • Click the lock icon at the right edge of the Timeline layers list.

Audio-Video Links

Ordinarily, objects that contain both audio and video are linked together so that they always remain in sync. This link is represented by an icon in the Timeline layers list.

Figure. Link icon.

Note: To display audio in the Timeline, click the Show Audio button, located in the lower-left corner of the Timeline tab.

Figure. Show Audio button.

Objects that are linked are always edited together in the Timeline. Operations such as cut, copy, paste, and split also affect both audio and video. However, if you ever want to break that relationship so that you can move or edit the audio or video without the other tagging along, you can disable that link and move either object freely. Beware that this may result in your audio and video playing out of sync.

To manipulate audio and video elements separately
  1. Click the link icon to the right of the object name for either the video or audio element.

    The link icon changes to a broken link.

    Figure. Broken link icon.
  2. Move, trim, or slip the audio or video bar.

    The link icon also appears in the Layers tab in the Project pane.

    Figure. Timeline tab showing audio and video clips offset from one another in time.

Timeline View Options

The lower-left corner of the Timeline contains several controls to customize what elements appear in the Timeline.

Audio tracks are displayed in a separate partition in the Timeline. You can resize the partitions by dragging the divider for each partition.

Button
Button name
Function
Figure. Show/Hide Layers button.
Show/Hide Layers
Displays all groups, layers, and objects. Audio tracks must be displayed for this switch to have any effect.
Figure. Show/Hide Audio button.
Show/Hide Audio
Displays audio tracks. The waveforms appear on the audio tracks.
Note: When an audio file with an applied Audio behavior is displayed in the Timeline, the Audio behavior appears below the audio track that it modifies.
Figure. Show/Hide Keyframes button.
Show/Hide Keyframes
Displays keyframes for all tracks. Keyframes appear as blue diamonds (white when selected).
Figure. Show/Hide Masks button.
Show/Hide Masks
Displays mask tracks for objects that have masks applied.
Figure. Show/Hide Behaviors button.
Show/Hide Behaviors
Displays behavior tracks for objects that have behaviors applied.
Figure. Show/Hide Filters button.
Show/Hide Filters
Displays filter tracks for objects that have filters applied.
Figure. Timeline row size buttons.
Set Timeline Row Size
Click one of the “Set timeline row size” buttons to select a track size. To manually resize tracks, position the pointer over a row separator line and drag up or down.

Zooming in the Timeline

You can zoom in and out in the Timeline using the Zoom/Scroll control, the zoom slider, or using a pinch open or pinch closed on a Multi-Touch trackpad. Each of these methods lets you zoom in and out of the Timeline horizontally, showing more or less time in the Timeline window. As you zoom in, you can see greater detail, which lets you place objects with greater precision. As you move the zoom slider, the Timeline remains centered on your current frame.

Figure. Zoom slider and Zoom/Scroll control in the Timeline.

The Zoom/Scroll control appears at the bottom of the Timeline window and lets you scroll through your project when you drag the scroller left or right.

The Zoom/Scroll control also lets you zoom in and out in your Timeline. It can help you navigate your project more quickly because it provides an overview of your Timeline at a glance. The width of the control represents the entire duration of your project, and the width of the scroller identifies the currently viewed segment.

Note: If you are working on a Mac with a Multi-Touch trackpad, you can use a two-finger swipe to scroll, or the pinch open and pinch closed gestures to zoom in the Timeline.

If you drag either handle of the scroller inward, the scroller gets shorter and zooms in on the Timeline. Dragging either handle outward lengthens the scroller and zooms out of the Timeline. The Timeline playhead is always visible to provide a reference point for which segment of your Timeline is currently being viewed.

To zoom in or out of the Timeline
  • Drag the handle at either end of the scroller. Drag toward the center of the Timeline to zoom in. Drag away from the center to zoom out.

    If you press Shift while dragging a handle, the opposite end remains locked in position and allows you to zoom in or out on the edge of the current view.

Adjusting the Height of the Timeline Tracks

In addition to zooming in and out in the Timeline, you can adjust the height of the tracks. Audio and object tracks may be resized separately. Some tracks, such as filters or behaviors, do not resize at all.

To adjust the height of the tracks
Do one of the following:
  • Drag the row separator between two layers in the Timeline layers list. When the pointer changes to an adjust pointer, drag up or down to modify the vertical size of the tracks.

    Figure. Row adjust pointer in the Timeline.
  • Click one of the “Set timeline row size” buttons.

    Figure. Set timeline row size buttons.

Specifying the Track Display

You can choose several different ways to display the objects within the tracks in the Timeline. You can display just the name of the object in the track, which makes the track thin, and is the easiest way to see many tracks at a time. You can choose to show the name and a thumbnail image of the object, which provides quick visual feedback and lets you identify exactly what each object is. You can also display a track as a filmstrip, which shows a series of thumbnails and lets you see where changes occur in a movie object. When you modify the track display setting, the display for image and mask tracks in the Timeline changes.

To specify the track display
  1. Choose Motion > Preferences to display the Preferences window.

  2. Click the Appearance icon.

  3. In the Timeline section, choose an item from the Timebar Display pop-up menu.

  4. Click the close box to close the Preferences window.

    The bars are displayed according to your choice.

Note: When the Timebar Display is set to Filmstrip, your processing time is increased. When a filter is applied to a layer or group, the result of the filter is displayed in the filmstrip.