Working in the Ruler

You can perform several types of functions using the ruler area of the Timeline. You can move the playhead to a specific frame to view the project at a specific time. You can also set In and Out points so that playback occurs only within the specified frames. In addition, you can select a range of frames, so that you can delete, cut, or paste into the selected frames.

Figure. Ruler, current frame field, In and Out points, and playhead in the Timeline.

Navigating in the Timeline

Motion provides many different controls for navigating the Timeline. You can directly drag the playhead to “scrub” through your project as quickly or slowly as you want, or you can jump to a specific frame. Additionally, you can automatically jump to object boundaries, markers, and other important indicators in the Timeline.

To move the playhead to a new point in time
Do one of the following:
  • Double-click the current frame field, type a frame number, then press Return.

  • Drag the current frame value slider to the left or right to advance or rewind.

  • Drag the playhead to the frame you want.

  • Click the ruler at the frame number where you want to move the playhead.

  • With the Canvas or Project pane active, type the timecode or frame number where you want to move the playhead. The new frame number appears in the current frame field in the Canvas. Press Return to jump to that frame.

  • With the Timeline active, type the timecode or frame number where you want to move the playhead. The new frame number appears in the Timeline’s current frame field. Press Return to jump to that frame.

    Important: If a track is currently selected, typing a number and pressing return moves the selected object in the track rather than the playhead.

To move forward a specific number of frames
  • Press Shift–Plus Sign and then the number of frames you want to move forward.

    Important: If a track is currently selected, typing a number and pressing return moves the selected object in the track rather than the playhead.

To move backward a specific number of frames
  • Press Shift–Minus Sign and then the number of frames you want to move backward.

    Important: If a track is currently selected, typing a number and pressing return moves the selected object in the track rather than the playhead.

To move ahead or back in seconds, minutes, or hours, type the following in the current frame field
  • To move forward in seconds, type Shift–Plus Sign, then type the number of seconds you want to move forward, and then type a period. For example, to move 2 seconds ahead, type “+2.” (with a period after the number) in the field, then press Return. To move ahead in minutes, type two periods after the number, and to move ahead in hours, type three periods after the number.

  • To move backward in seconds, type a Shift–Minus Sign, then type the number of seconds you want to move backward, and then type a period. For example, to move 2 seconds backward, type “–2.” (with a period after the number) in the field, then press Return. To move backward in minutes, type two periods after the number, and to move backward in hours, type three periods after the number.

    Important: If a track is currently selected, typing a number and pressing return moves the selected object in the track rather than the playhead.

To play back your project
  • Press the Space bar.

To move forward or backward one frame at a time
Do one of the following:
  • Click the “Go to next frame” or “Go to previous frame” button in the transport controls (left of the Play/Mute Audio button).

  • Choose Mark > Go to > Previous Frame or Next Frame.

  • Press the Left Arrow key to move backward or the Right Arrow key to move forward.

    Note: If you are working on a Mac with a Multi-Touch trackpad, you can rotate left to go to the previous frame or rotate right to go to the next frame.

To move forward or backward ten frames at a time
Do one of the following:
  • Choose Mark > Go to > 10 Frames Back or 10 Frames Forward.

  • Press the Shift key, then press the Left Arrow or Right Arrow key.

To jump directly to the beginning of the project
Do one of the following:
  • Click the “Go to start of project” button in the transport controls (to the right of the Record button).

  • Choose Mark > Go to > Project Start.

  • Press Home.

To jump directly to the end of your project
Do one of the following:
  • Click the “Go to end of project” button in the transport controls.

  • Choose Mark > Go to > Project End.

  • Press End.

To jump to the next keyframe
Do one of the following:
  • With the animated object selected, press Shift-K.

  • With the animated object selected, choose Mark > Go to > Next Keyframe.

To jump to the previous keyframe
Do one of the following:
  • With the animated object selected, press Option-K.

  • With the animated object selected, choose Mark > Go to > Previous Keyframe.

    For information on displaying keyframes in the Timeline, see Timeline View Options.

In addition to simply moving to new positions in the ruler, you can navigate directly to objects within the Timeline, such as objects, markers, and keyframes. For more information on markers, see Adding Markers. For more information on keyframes, see Keyframes and Curves.

To jump directly to the beginning or end of an object in the Timeline
  1. Select the object you want to navigate to.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Choose Mark > Go to > Selection In Point or Selection Out Point.

    • Press Shift-I (for the In point) or Shift-O (for the Out point).

Defining the Play Range

Ordinarily, clicking the Play button plays your project from the first frame until the last. However, you can change the area of your project Motion plays by modifying the In and Out points in the Timeline ruler. You might do this to focus on a particular section as you fine-tune your project or make other changes to it. Once you’re done focusing on that section, you can reset the In and Out points to the beginning and end of your project.

Figure. Ruler in the Timeline, with In and Out points set.
To customize the playback In point
Do one of the following:
  • In the ruler, drag the In point marker from the left edge of the ruler to the frame where you want to set the In point. As you drag, the playhead also moves with your pointer. When you release the mouse button, the playhead snaps back to its previous position.

  • Choose Mark > Mark Play Range In.

  • Press Command-Option-I.

To customize the playback Out point
Do one of the following:
  • In the ruler, drag the Out point marker from the right edge of the ruler to the frame where you want to set the Out point.

  • Choose Mark > Mark Play Range Out.

  • Press Command-Option-O.

To reset playback In and Out points
Do one of the following:
  • Choose Mark > Reset Play Range.

  • Press Option-X.

    The In and Out points reset themselves to the beginning and end of the project.

To navigate to playback In and Out points
Do one of the following:
  • Choose Mark > Go to > Play Range Start or Play Range End.

  • Press Shift-Home (In point) or Shift-End (Out point).

Working with Regions

Sometimes you may want to make changes to a range of frames, known as a region. You might do this to cut or copy a section of time to remove it or move it to a new position in your project. Regions do not have to align with object edges in the Timeline. You can create a region that begins midway through an object or one that includes empty frames beyond the edges of objects.

To select a range of frames
  • Command-Option-drag in the Timeline.

    A light blue band appears over the selected frames.

    Figure. Timeline showing a selected range.
To expand or contract a region
  • Position the pointer at either edge of a region to modify its end point. Click to the right to make it longer or to the left to make it shorter.

    Selected regions ordinarily apply to all tracks in your Timeline. However, sometimes you only want to select one or more tracks. This allows you to make complex selections across multiple layers and tracks.

To move a region
  • Position the pointer over the region, then drag to move the region.

    Figure. Region being moved with the move pointer in the Timeline.
To deselect tracks from a selection range
  • Command-click the track you want to deselect.

    Figure. Timeline showing one track deselected from a region.

Once you have defined your selection range, you can delete the section or ripple delete the section (to delete it and close the resulting gap). You can cut or copy the section to move it to the Clipboard so you can paste it somewhere else.

Note: Pasting a region does not paste at the current playhead location. To quickly move the pasted region to the playhead location, press the Shift key while you drag the pasted object. As you approach the current playhead location, the object snaps into place.

You can also paste into a region, which fills the existing region with the contents of the Clipboard.

Pasting into a Region Using the Paste Special Command

Regions are also useful for performing a special type of paste command called paste special. You can define a region and paste objects into that region. You have three choices for how the paste into is performed. You can insert, pushing the existing region down in time, overwrite the existing contents of the region, or exchange the existing objects with the Clipboard contents. In all of these cases, the pasted objects never exceed the duration of the region they are pasted into.

To paste into a region
  1. Select the object that you want to copy to the Clipboard to be pasted.

  2. Press Command-C to copy or Command-X to cut your selection.

  3. Command-Option-drag in the Timeline to select a region.

  4. Choose Edit > Paste Special.

    The Paste Special dialog appears.

  5. Select either Insert, Overwrite, or Exchange.

  6. Click OK to close the dialog.

    The Clipboard contents are pasted into the region using the method you specified. For more information on the different editing types, see Adding Objects to the Track Area.

Inserting Time

You can select a region in order to add blank playback time into your project. For example, you might want to add some black frames between two objects, or put some frames in as a placeholder for a clip you don’t yet have. This is called inserting time.

To insert time into a project
  1. Command-Option-drag in the ruler. Drag as wide an area as you want to insert.

  2. Choose Edit > Insert Time.

    The number of frames in the region is added to the project, beginning at the end of the selected region and pushing any existing objects further out in time.

    Figure. Timeline showing blank space being inserted into a sequence.

Project Duration

Motion projects default to ten seconds in length. You can change this duration to match the needs of your project. To learn how to change the default project duration, see General Tab of the Project Properties Window.

Figure. Project duration field in the Timeline.
To change the project duration
Do one of the following:
  • Drag in the project duration field in the lower-right corner of the Canvas. Dragging to the right extends the length and dragging to the left shortens it.

  • Click the project duration field and type a number into the value field.

  • Choose Edit > Project Properties (or press Command-J) and change the value of the project duration field in the dialog.

    Note: You can click the stopwatch button to switch between viewing the project duration field in frames or timecode.