Adding Objects to the Track Area

When you drag a new object to the track area, a drop menu appears and lets you choose how the object should be incorporated into the project. Depending on where in track area you drop the object, you see different options. If you drag to a group or object track in the track area, you can choose Composite, Insert, or Overwrite. An additional Exchange option becomes available when you exchange the same type of media (such as a QuickTime movie, an image sequence, or an image file). For example, Exchange appears when you drag a QuickTime movie to a QuickTime movie’s track.

Figure. Timeline drop menu showing options.

Note: You can also add objects to the Timeline layers list. For more information, see Adding Objects to the Timeline Layers List.

Once an object is added to a project using the Timeline, it appears in the layers list and becomes a Timeline track. The new object can appear above or below an existing object; where you release the mouse button determines placement of the new object.

Note: Cameras and lights that have been saved to the Library can be dragged to the Timeline.

Figure. Timeline tab showing an object dragged to a group track, and dragged to an object track.

If you are dropping multiple objects, you can choose Composite or Sequential from the drop menu. Sequential imports objects one after the other.

Note: If you release the mouse button before the drop menu appears, the default choice of Composite is applied. This means that the new layer appears on top of other objects in the Canvas.

Composite

When you choose Composite from the drop menu, the new object is added to a new track within the active group and all layers remain onscreen simultaneously.

Figure. Timeline showing an object composited into a group.
To composite an object
  1. Drag an object from the Library or Media tab into the Timeline tracks area.

    As you drag, a tooltip appears at the pointer to tell you the frame number at which you are located.

  2. When you reach the frame where you want the new layer to start, position the pointer over the layer you want as the background, and hold down the mouse button until the drop menu appears.

  3. Choose Composite from the drop menu.

    The new layer is composited into the project.

Insert

When you choose Insert from the drop menu, Motion leaves the existing object in the track, but pushes it forward in time to make room for the new item. For example, if you insert a five-frame movie into a group containing an existing object, the new movie is added to the Timeline at whichever frame you drop it, pushing the remaining frames of the original movie out five frames.

Figure. Timeline showing an object Inserted into a group.

If you insert an object midway through an existing object, the existing object is split into two objects, each on its own track.

To insert an object
  1. Drag an object from the Library or Media tab into the Timeline track area.

    As you drag, a tooltip appears at the pointer to tell you the frame number at which you are located.

  2. When you reach the frame where you want the new object to start, keep the mouse button pressed until the drop menu appears.

  3. Choose Insert from the drop menu.

    The new object is inserted into the track, breaking the original bar into two, and pushing the frames after the insertion further out in time.

Overwrite

The Overwrite drop menu option deletes the existing object, overwriting it with your new object.

Figure. Timeline showing an object overwritten onto a group where the new object is longer than the objects in the group.

If the new object is shorter than the one currently in the group, the Overwrite option splits the duration of the existing object and deletes only the frames where the new object appears.

Figure. Timeline showing an object overwritten into a group where the new object is shorter than the objects in the group.
To overwrite an object
  1. Drag an object from the Library or Media tab into the Timeline track area.

    As you drag, a tooltip appears to tell you the frame number at which you are located.

  2. When you reach the frame where you want the new object to start, hold down the mouse button until the drop menu appears.

  3. Choose Overwrite from the drop menu.

    The frames of the new object replace the frames of the original object. If the original object contained more frames than the new one, the old object is split into two objects and the additional frames remain.

Exchange

The Exchange drop menu option is a variant of the Overwrite option, but instead of dropping the entire duration of the new object into the project, the duration of the existing object is used.

For example, if you drag a 30-second clip over a 5-second clip, choosing Exchange swaps the existing 5 seconds with the first 5 seconds of the longer clip.

Figure. Timeline showing an object being exchanged into a group.

Similarly, if you try to exchange a 10-second clip with one that lasts only 5 seconds, the first 5 seconds are replaced, and the remaining 5 seconds would remain. The Exchange option transfers any filters, behaviors, and keyframes from the original object onto the new object.

Note: You cannot use Exchange with audio files.

To exchange an object
  1. Drag an object from the Library or Media tab into the Timeline track area.

    As you drag, a tooltip appears to tell you the frame number at which you are located.

  2. When you reach the object you want to exchange, hold down the mouse button until the drop menu appears.

  3. Choose Exchange from the drop menu.

    The old object is replaced by the new object.

Sequential

This drop menu option is only available when you are dropping multiple objects into the Timeline. Sequential drops objects one after another in the Timeline. For more information, see Adding Multiple Clips to the Timeline.

Adding Multiple Clips to the Timeline

When you drag more than one item to the Timeline, the new objects appear in their own tracks above any existing objects. This is equivalent to performing a composite edit with a single object. A drop menu lets you choose whether the additional objects should be stacked up as a composite, or whether they should appear one after another (sequentially).

Figure. Timeline showing clips added to a sequence as a composite, and sequentially.
To add multiple objects as a composite
  1. Shift-select the files you want in the Library or Media tab, then drag them to the Timeline track area.

  2. When you reach the frame where you want the new objects to start, hold down the mouse button until the drop menu appears.

  3. Choose Composite from the drop menu.

    The multiple objects are all edited into the project at the same point in time, each on its own track.

    Alternatively, you can drop the multiple objects into the Timeline layers list. Doing so always results in a composite edit. Also, if you release the mouse button before the drop menu appears, a composite edit is applied.

To add multiple objects sequentially
  1. Command-select the files you want in the File Browser, Library, or Media tab, then drag them to the Timeline track area.

  2. When you reach the frame where you want the new objects to start, hold down the mouse button until the drop menu appears.

  3. Choose Sequential from the drop menu.

    The multiple objects are edited into the project, one after another, each on its own track.

Setting Drag and Drop Preferences

You can set preferences that specify where an item is dropped when you add it to the Timeline. You can choose between dropping items at the start of the project or at the current playhead position. You can also set the delay time before the drop menu appears.

To specify where new objects appear in the Timeline
  1. Choose Motion > Preferences.

    The Preferences window appears.

  2. Click the Project icon.

    The Project Preferences pane opens.

  3. In the Still Images & Layers section, click the appropriate button to create layers at “Current frame” or “Start of project.”

    Note: The Create Layers At preference only applies when you drag items to the Timeline layers list, the Layers tab of the Project pane, or directly into the Canvas. Clips dropped on a specific frame within the Timeline always appear at that exact location.

To set the drop menu delay preference
  1. Choose Motion > Preferences.

    The Preferences window appears.

  2. Click the General icon to view the General preferences pane.

  3. In the Interface section, adjust the Drop Menu Delay slider to set the delay pause for the drop menu.