Adding Objects to the Timeline Layers List

You can add images and clips to your project by dragging them to the Timeline layers list. When you drag an image from the File Browser or Media tab into the Timeline layers list, you can choose whether add the new object to an existing group, replace an existing object, or create a new object. Once an object is added to the Timeline layers list, it appears in the layers lists and becomes a Timeline track in the track area. The new object can appear above or below an existing object; where you release the mouse button determines placement of the new object.

Note: You can also add objects to the Timeline track area. For more information, see Adding Objects to the Track Area.

To add an object to an existing group
  1. Drag an object from the File Browser, Library, or Media tab, and position the pointer over the Timeline layers list.

    • If you position the pointer over a group, the track is highlighted with a black border.

    • If you position the pointer between object tracks within a group, the position indicator appears.

  2. Release the mouse button to add the layer to the group.

    The new layer is placed on top of other existing objects in the group, or in between the objects where you dragged it.

To replace an object in an existing group
  1. Drag an object from the File Browser, Library, or Media tab, and position the pointer over the object that you want to replace.

    A black highlight box appears around the object.

    Figure. Layers tab showing an object being dragged onto an existing object.

    Note: The replace command can be used only for image, image sequence, and QuickTime movie files.

  2. Release the mouse button.

    The new object replaces the old one.

To create a new group on top of existing groups
  1. Drag an object from the File Browser, Library, or Media tab into the Timeline layers list, at the upper edge of the top object.

  2. When the position indicator appears, release the mouse button.

    A new group is created on top of other existing groups in the hierarchy or “stack” of groups and layers.

To create a new group below existing groups
  1. Drag an object from the File Browser, Library, or Media tab into the Timeline layers list, below the lower edge of the bottom object.

    Note: There are two different position indicators: The shorter indicator places the object in the existing group. While holding down the mouse button, move slightly to the left until a longer indicator appears. This indicator creates a new group.

  2. Release the mouse button.

    A new group is created below other existing groups in the hierarchy or “stack” of groups and objects.

Managing Track Order

The Timeline layers list provides you with the tools to control object order. In 2D Motion projects, the topmost track in the list appears on top of other layers in the Canvas. This means you may need to rearrange the order of objects in your project to get the effects you want.

To rearrange objects within a group
  1. In the Timeline layers list, drag the object icon you want to move to a new position between the other tracks.

    Figure. Timeline tab showing the object order being rearranged.
  2. When the position indicator appears in the location you want, release the mouse button.

    The tracks are reordered.

To move an object from one group to another existing group
  1. Drag the object icon in the Timeline layers list over another group.

    A black border highlights the group.

    Figure. Timeline tab showing an object being dragged from one group into another.
  2. Release the mouse button.

    The object moves into the selected group and is placed above any existing objects within that group.

    Figure. Timeline tab showing that object's position in the new group.

You can also drag an object to a specific place in the new group by dragging it in between existing tracks in the new group. Motion’s groups and layers are “spring-loaded,” which means that when they are collapsed, dragging an object onto them causes them to temporarily expand, just like folders in the Finder.

To drop an object inside a collapsed group
  1. Drag the object onto the collapsed group in the Timeline layers list.

  2. Position the pointer over the name of the group until the group springs open.

  3. Drag the object to the desired location within the group, then release the mouse button.

Nesting Groups and Layers

To help organize large groups of objects or to create certain kinds of special effects, you can place one group inside of another. This gives you the flexibility to create a group containing multiple objects, and then treat that entire group as a single object within another group. You could go further and take that “parent” group, combine it with some other groups, and treat that group as a single element, and so on. This is called nesting or grouping.

There are many reasons why you might choose to nest your layers or groups. Doing so allows you to simplify your composite, grouping objects and layers into fewer containers. It also allows you to manipulate a group of objects as one. For example, you could take the individual letters of your title (each animated on its own) and use nesting to animate the group of them across the screen. You can also use grouping to create complex particle systems. You can nest several objects into a layer, and use the entire layer as the emitter cell. For more on particle systems, see Working with Particles.

Note: You cannot use the Group command with objects that are in different groups.

To place one group inside another
  1. Drag the group icon in the Timeline layers list onto the group inside of which you want to nest it.

    A black border highlights the destination group.

  2. Release the mouse button.

    The first group is now nested inside the second group.

    You can also select the objects you want and choose Object > Group (or press Command-Shift-G).

    Note: There is no limit to the number of groups you can nest.

To return a nested group to its original state
  • Select the nested group, then choose Object > Ungroup (or press Command-Option-G).

    The nested group is restored into individual objects. Any group within another group can be ungrouped.

To remove a group from within a nest
  1. Click the group icon in the Timeline layers list.

  2. Drag the group out of the existing parent group to the area above the highest track.

    The position indicator appears.

  3. Release the mouse button.

    The group is restored to primary group status.

To delete a group or object track
  1. Select the group or object in the Timeline layers list.

  2. Press Delete.

    You can also Control-click an object, then choose Delete from the shortcut menu.

All of the operations just described can also be performed with multiple tracks. For example, rather than just moving one object from Group 1 to Group 3, you can select two or three objects within Group 1 and move them all at once.

To select more than one object or group track
  • Command-click each of the tracks in the Layers list that you want to include in your selection.