Editing Objects in the Timeline

During the process of designing and implementing a motion graphics project, you place objects in the Timeline and Canvas, move them forward or backward in time, and trim them to match the timing of other objects in your project.

Motion has several features that help you modify the objects in the Timeline. You can arrange your objects to begin and end at designated frames. You can also use powerful alignment and timing tools, such as snapping and markers. You can also modify keyframes in the Timeline. This section describes the various ways you can perform these actions.

Motion uses the terms move, trim, and slip to describe the different ways of editing Timeline objects.

Moving Objects

Move an object when you want it to begin and end at a different point in the project.

To move an object
  • In the track area, click an object bar and drag left or right to move it in time.

    A tooltip appears that identifies the new In and Out points of the clip, so you can drag the clip to the frame you want. The delta symbol (the small triangle) indicates the number of frames you are moving.

    Figure. Timeline showing an object being moved in time.
To move an object and snap it to neighboring items
  • Press Shift as you drag the item in the Timeline.

    Snap-to lines appear and the edges of the clip automatically line up precisely with these lines.

Moving Objects to the Playhead

You can move an object to a new location in the Timeline by using the Move Selected In (or Out) Point command. This command automatically shifts the position of the selected object to the current playhead position and can be used to move and align multiple objects in one operation.

To move an object to the playhead
  1. Select the object you want to move.

  2. Place the playhead at the point in the Timeline where you want to move the object.

  3. Choose Mark > Move Selected In Point (or press Shift-Left Bracket) to align the object’s beginning to the playhead or choose Mark > Move Selected Out Point (or press Shift-Right Bracket) to align the end of the object to the playhead position.

    Figure. Timeline showing an object being moved to the playhead.

Moving Objects Shortcut

In the Timeline, you can quickly move an object forward or backward a specific number of frames, or to a specific frame.

To move an object to a specific frame
  1. In the Timeline, select the object you want to move, then type the number of the frame (or timecode) where you want to move the object.

    A value field appears that displays the number you typed.

    Figure. Timeline showing the Move value field that appears when you type a frame number.
  2. Press Return.

    The object’s In point moves to the specified frame number.

To move an object a specific number of frames
Do one of the following:
  • To move the object forward a specific number of frames, select the object, type a plus sign (+) followed by the number of the frames you want to move, and then press Return.

  • To move the object backward a specific number of frames, select the object, type a minus sign (–) followed by the number of the frames you want to move, and then press Return.

Trimming Objects

Trim an object when you want to shorten or lengthen its duration in the Timeline. You can shorten or lengthen either the beginning or end of the object by dragging from the left or right edge of the object bar in the Timeline (the In and Out points).

You can also trim an object by using the menu items and corresponding keyboard shortcuts to change an object’s In and Out points. This allows you to trim multiple objects simultaneously as well as make trimming changes on the fly while your project is playing back.

You can only lengthen a footage layer if there are existing unused frames in the source media. If you need to extend an object and the source material doesn’t have enough frames, you can change its End Condition to Loop, Ping Pong, or Hold. The End Condition parameter is located in the Properties tab of the Inspector. You can extend the length of other objects, such as cameras, text, and shapes without restriction.

Note: For more information on the Timing controls, see Retiming.

When you resize an object, unused frames temporarily appear beyond the boundaries of the object in a lighter color. If there is no room outside of the currently used portion, no unused frames appear and you cannot lengthen the object.

Figure. Timeline showing an object being trimmed, revealing unused frames.
To trim an object
  1. Move the pointer to one end of the object you want to trim.

    The pointer changes to a trim pointer.

    Figure. Trim pointer in the Timeline.
  2. Drag the end of the bar until it reaches the frame where you want the object to start or end.

    As you drag, a tooltip shows the new In or Out point, and the new duration of the object.

    Figure. Trim tooltip in the Timeline.
To trim an object and snap to neighboring items
  • Press Shift as you drag the edge of the item in the Timeline.

    Snap-to lines appear, and the edge of the object you are dragging automatically lines up precisely with these lines.

To change an object’s In or Out point
  1. Select the object you want to trim.

  2. Place the playhead on the frame where you want the new In or Out point.

    Figure. Timeline showing an object's In point trimmed to the playhead.
  3. Choose Mark > Mark In (or press I) to set a new In point or choose Mark > Mark Out (or press O) to change the Out point.

To trim multiple objects at the same time
  1. Select the objects you want to trim.

  2. Place the playhead at the In or Out position you want.

  3. Choose Mark > Mark In (or press I) or Mark > Mark Out (or press O) to set a new In or Out point.

    All selected objects are trimmed to the new point.

    Note: If one of the objects doesn’t have enough media to complete the trim, it moves as far as it can toward the desired point.

Slipping Objects

Slip an object when you want to use a different section of your clip, but you don’t want to change the layer’s duration or where it appears in the Timeline. Slipping is only possible after you have trimmed an object.

For example, if you have a shot of a door opening that is 3 seconds long and you want to trim it down to only 1 second, you can use the Slip function to select which one-second section to use: the first second as the door leaves the jamb, the next second where it is flying open, or the last second where it bangs against the wall.

Figure. Timeline showing an object being slipped.

Note: You can only slip an object as far as the existing unused frames in the source media.

To slip an object
  1. With the pointer over the object, press and hold down the Option key.

    The pointer turns into the slip pointer.

    Figure. Slip pointer in the Timeline.
  2. Drag the middle part of the colored bar left or right.

    Dragging to the right replaces the frames with a section from later in the source material, while dragging to the left uses frames from earlier in the clip.

Splitting Tracks

Occasionally you may want to divide a single object into multiple objects, each in its own Timeline track. You might do this if you want an effect to apply to one portion of an object but not to another part. Or you might want an object to change layer order midway through, to create the effect that objects are moving in 3D space. When working in 3D, you can split camera tracks as well. Splitting tracks allows you to turn one object into multiple pieces and then manipulate each segment of the object on its own track.

Figure. Timeline showing a track being split.
To split an object track
  1. Select the object in the track area of the Timeline layers list for the object you want to split.

  2. Place the playhead on the frame where you want the split to occur.

  3. Choose Edit > Split.

    The object is broken into two pieces, each positioned on its own track.

Deleting Objects

Removing objects from your project can be just as important as adding them. Motion provides three ways to remove an object from the Timeline.

  • Delete: Removes the object, leaving a gap in the Timeline.
    Figure. Timeline showing an object being deleted.
  • Ripple Delete: Removes the object and closes up the gap left behind. If the objects are within a group, the group is split into two objects.
    Figure. Timeline showing an object being ripple deleted.
  • Cut: Deletes the object, leaving a gap in the Timeline, and copies the object to the Clipboard for later pasting.
To delete an object
  1. Select the object you want to delete.

  2. Choose Edit > Delete (or press Delete).

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

To ripple delete an object
  1. Select the object you want to delete.

  2. Choose Edit > Ripple Delete (or press Shift-Delete).

To cut an object
  1. Select an object you want to delete.

  2. Choose Edit > Cut from the menu bar (or press Command-X).

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

Copying and Pasting Objects

As in other applications, you can copy and paste objects. Copying leaves an object in place and copies it to the Clipboard for later pasting.

When you paste an object, it is placed at the position of the playhead.

Figure. Timeline showing an object being copied and pasted.

If a track is selected, the object is pasted into that track above all other objects. If no track is selected, a new track is created for the pasted object (as illustrated above).

Change the active track by clicking the Timeline layers list. Pasting multiple objects retains the relative object and layer order of the Clipboard contents. New tracks can be added to accommodate the paste operation.

Objects with filters behaviors, keyframes, and other effects retain those effects when cut, copied, and pasted.

To copy an object to the Clipboard
  1. In the Timeline layers list or File Browser, select the object or objects you want to copy.

  2. Choose Edit > Copy (or press Command-C).

To paste an object
  1. In the Timeline layers list, select the layer where you want the object pasted.

  2. Position the playhead at the desired time position.

  3. Choose Edit > Paste (or press Command-V).

Paste Special

In addition to ordinary pasting, Motion lets you paste as an insert, overwrite, or exchange edit. These three commands appear in the Paste Special dialog. Paste special can also be used with regions to perform a special type of paste. For more information, see Pasting into a Region Using the Paste Special Command.

  • Insert into time region: Pastes the Clipboard contents into the project, pushing existing objects farther down in time.
  • Overwrite into time region: Pastes the Clipboard contents into the project, deleting any existing objects at the same point in time.
  • Exchange media with existing object: Replaces the selected object in the project with the Clipboard contents.
To paste an object as an insert
  1. Select the track where you want the object pasted.

  2. Position the playhead at the desired time position.

  3. Choose Edit > Paste Special (or press Command-Option-V).

    The Paste Special dialog appears.

  4. Select “Insert into time region.”

  5. Click OK to confirm your edit.

To paste an object as an Overwrite
  1. Select the track where you want the object pasted.

  2. Position the playhead at the desired time position.

  3. Choose Edit > Paste Special (or press Command-Option-V).

    The Paste Special dialog appears.

  4. Select “Overwrite into time region.”

  5. Click OK to confirm your edit.

To paste an object as an Exchange
  1. Select the track where you want the object pasted.

  2. Position the playhead at the desired time position.

  3. Choose Edit > Paste Special (or press Command-Option-V).

    The Paste Special dialog appears.

  4. Select “Exchange media with existing object.”

  5. Click OK to confirm your edit.

    Note: The “Exchange media with existing object” option is only available for an item copied from the File Browser. To copy an image element from the File Browser, select the image and choose Edit > Copy (or press Command-C).

Displaying and Modifying Keyframes in the Timeline

You can move or delete keyframes that are displayed in the Timeline. You can also display in the Timeline the animation curve for a selected keyframe in the Keyframe Editor.

To display keyframes in the Timeline
  • At the bottom of the Timeline layers list, click the Show/Hide Keyframes button.

    Figure. Show/Hide Keyframes button in the Timeline.

    When the button appears dark gray, it is enabled. The keyframes appear below the object tracks. In the following image, the “5-sided star” object has three keyframes. The keyframes appear in the track below the object.

    Figure. Keyframes in the Timeline.
To move a keyframe’s position in time
  • Drag the keyframe to the left or right. When selected, the keyframe appears white.

    Moving the keyframe in the Timeline only modifies its position in time. To directly modify the value of a keyframe, do one of the following:

    • Control-click the keyframe, choose the property you want to adjust from the shortcut menu, enter a new value, and press Return.

    • Use the Keyframe Editor. This allows you to change the value and interpolation of the keyframe. For more information on the Keyframe Editor, see Keyframes and Curves.

To delete a keyframe or group of selected keyframes
  • Select the keyframe or keyframes that you want to delete, and do one of the following:

    • Press Delete.

    • Control-click one of the selected keyframes, then choose Delete Keyframes from the shortcut menu.

To delete all keyframes
  • Control-click a keyframe, then choose Delete All Keyframes from the shortcut menu.

To display an animation curve in the Keyframe Editor
  • Control-click a keyframe on the track, then choose Show in Keyframe Editor from the shortcut menu.

    The Keyframe Editor is displayed, the animation curve appears, and a new, untitled curve set is created. For more information on curve sets, see Filtering the Parameter List.

Retiming in the Timeline

By default, a 60-frame clip played back at 30 frames per second takes two seconds to display its 60 frames. If its In point is frame 1, its Out point is frame 60. Speed and duration are interactive; that is, if you increase the speed at which the clip plays back, its duration automatically decreases. Playing back the same clip at 15 frames per second would take twice as long. The clip’s In point remains the same, but its Out point is now 120.

For more detailed information about retiming, see Retiming. For more information on using the Retiming behaviors, see Retiming Behaviors.

Adjusting a Clip’s Speed

Motion allows you to easily change the timing of clips in the Timeline.

To shorten the clip’s duration and speed up its playback speed
  1. With the pointer over the end of the clip, press and hold down the Option key.

    The pointer turns into the retime pointer.

    Figure. Retime pointer in the Timeline.
  2. Drag the Out point of the clip’s bar to the left.

    As you drag, the tooltip displays the clip’s duration and speed.

    Figure. Object being retimed in the Timeline.

    Note: To use the retime pointer, Constant Speed must be chosen from the Time Remap pop-up menu in the Properties tab of the Inspector. When Variable Speed is chosen, the retime pointer has no effect.

To lengthen the clip’s duration and slow down its playback speed
  1. With the pointer over the start or end of the clip, press and hold down the Option key.

    The pointer turns into the retime pointer.

    Figure. Retime pointer in Timeline.
  2. Drag the Out point of the clip’s bar to the right.

    As you drag, the tooltip displays the clip’s Duration and Speed.

Looping a Clip

When a looped clip reaches its last frame, it starts playing again from its first frame. Another way of extending a clip’s duration is by looping it. You can easily loop a clip by adjusting it in the Timeline.

To loop a clip
  1. With the pointer over the end of the clip, press and hold Option-Shift.

    The pointer turns into the loop pointer.

  2. Drag the Out point of the layer’s bar to the left.

    Figure. Loop pointer and tooltip in the Timeline.

    As you drag, the tooltip displays the clip’s In and Out points, Duration, and Loop Duration. A looped clip has barriers to indicate where loops begin and end in the Timeline.

    Figure. First loop barrier in the Timeline.

    The first loop barrier in a clip’s bar is interactive. Moving the barrier changes the point at which the clip loops.

To change the loop point of a clip
  • Drag the first loop barrier left or right.

    The end point of the clip’s loop moves as you drag.

Editing in the Group Track

In addition to the ability to edit individual objects within groups, Motion allows you to do a variety of editing tasks directly in the group track, even if that track is collapsed. This allows you to collapse your tracks and do many of the functions typically limited to a dedicated nonlinear editor such as Final Cut Pro.

Ordinarily the group bar indicates the name of the object if there is only one object and the number of composited items for areas where more than one object overlaps.

Figure. Timeline showing a collapsed group bar.

Moving Objects in the Group Track

Motion lets you move objects within a group depending on where you click. You can move all of the objects within the group as a single object by clicking the thin blue group bar at the top of the group track. If you click an area where only one clip exists, you move just that item. If you click an area where multiple objects overlap, dragging moves all of the overlapping items.

To move an entire group as a single object
  1. Click the thin blue group bar at the top of the group track.

    The layer can be collapsed or expanded.

  2. Drag to the right or left to move the entire layer in time.

    Figure. Timeline showing a group being moved as a single object.
To move a single object within a group
  1. Click the area of the group track where the one clip is visible.

    That clip is highlighted in the group track.

  2. Drag the section left or right to move the object within the group forward or backward in time.

    Figure. Timeline showing a single object being moved on the group bar.

Moving and Editing Overlapping Objects

You can move all overlapping objects of a group at once or edit a single object within a group.

To move overlapping objects within a group
  1. Click the area of the group track where the overlap is indicated.

    The selected area may exceed the overlapping region if an object extends beyond the overlap.

  2. Drag the section to move all of the objects at once.

    Figure. Timeline showing overlapping objects being moved together in the group bar.

    You can also use the shortcut menu to select any one of the overlapping objects in order to edit that object directly. This is one way that you can manipulate individual objects within a group without having to expand the group.

To edit one item in an overlapping area of a group
  1. Control-click the overlapping area of the group, then choose the object you want to manipulate from the shortcut menu.

    The boundaries of that one object are highlighted in the group track.

    Figure. Timeline showing shortcut menu displaying list of clips in overlapping section.
  2. Move, trim, or slip the object independently from the other objects in the group.

    Figure. Timeline showing a single object being moved in the group bar.

Trimming Objects in the Group Track

Trimming the edges of the group bar automatically trims the edges of the objects within the group. If there is only one object, trimming the group bar simply trims that object. If there is more than one object lined up with the edge of the group, trimming the group automatically trims all of those objects.

Figure. Timeline showing a group being trimmed.

You cannot trim the individual object tracks within the body of the group track.

Figure. Timeline showing a clip being trimmed within a group.

Disconnecting the Group Track from Its Contents

You can modify the group bar to be longer or shorter than the contents of the group. For example, you might shorten a group bar to hide a section of the objects within it. Objects that extend beyond the boundaries of the group bar (the thin blue bar at the top of the group track) are not displayed in the Canvas.

Figure. Timeline showing a group being manipulated separately from its contents.
To change the length of the group independently from the objects within it
  • Press Command, then drag the edge of the group track.

    Only the thin blue layer bar is trimmed.

    Note: Once you manually change the length of the group bar, it is no longer automatically updated as you add or modify the objects within it. To restore automatic updating, realign the group bar with the right edge of the last clip in the group.

You can use this same technique to trim an object without automatically changing the duration of masks, filters, or other applied effects.

To trim an object without changing applied effects
  • Press Command while you drag the edge of the object.

    Figure. Timeline showing an object being trimmed without affecting effects applied to it.

Slipping Objects in the Group Track

In addition to moving and trimming, you can slip certain objects directly in the group bar. Any portion of the group that contains only one object can be slipped. Areas where more than one object overlap cannot be slipped without expanding the group and directly manipulating the individual objects.

To slip an object in the group track
  1. Option-click an area of the group where the object is located.

  2. Drag to the right or left to use an earlier or later portion of the media without moving the position or duration of the object.

    You can only slip an object if there are unused frames in the source media associated with that clip. For more information on slipping, see Slipping Objects.