Creating Keyframed Motion Paths in the Canvas

You can create motion for a clip by repositioning it and then setting keyframes to change the clip’s Center parameter value over time. By setting enough keyframes, you can eventually create the motion path you want.

There is an easier way, however, which can produce more sophisticated results: you set up the motion in the Canvas using a motion path (in Image+Wireframe or Wireframe mode). Once you set the first Center parameter keyframe for a clip in its Motion tab, all subsequent changes made to that clip at different points in time introduce additional center keyframes. When you create two or more center keyframes, they appear in the Canvas along a line called the motion path.

What Are Motion Paths?

The simplest motion path is a straight line defined by two center keyframes. Once the first keyframe is defined in the Motion tab, any time you move the Canvas or Timeline playhead to another location and then move that clip’s wireframe somewhere else in the Canvas, another keyframe is created automatically.

For example, suppose you define a center keyframe for a video clip at the x and y coordinates of –160, 100. You then move the playhead 3 seconds later in your sequence and drag the clip by its center point to 160, –100. The result is a diagonal motion path moving from the lower-left corner of the Canvas to the upper-right corner, shown below. When your sequence plays, the clip moves along this path, with its anchor point following the motion path exactly.

Figure. Canvas window showing a simple motion path that moves a clip between two center keyframes.

As you add additional keyframes, you can create more complex paths. For example, with the motion path above already defined, you can move the playhead to a location in between these two keyframes. With the playhead in between these two keyframes, moving the clip to –90, –90 adds a third keyframe to this motion path, shown next. In this way, you can create as many keyframes as you like, changing the shape of the motion path accordingly.

Tip: To move the playhead relative to these keyframes, you can view your clip’s keyframes in the Motion tab of the Viewer. To view these keyframes below your clips in the Timeline, you can click the Clip Keyframes control to display the keyframe graph area.

Figure. Canvas windows showing a third and then a fourth keyframe added to create changes in direction in a clip's motion path.

Creating Motion Paths

The simplest way to make changes to a clip’s motion path is by manipulating it directly in the Canvas while in Image+Wireframe mode.

To create a motion path
  1. Open the clip you want to animate in the Viewer, then click the Motion tab.

  2. In the Canvas, choose a wireframe mode from the View pop-up menu.

  3. In the Viewer, Canvas, or Timeline, move the playhead to the location where you want that clip’s motion to begin.

    Note: When you open a clip from your sequence in the Viewer, all three playheads are locked together, so it doesn’t matter which playhead you use.

  4. Select the Selection tool in the Tool palette.

  5. In the Canvas, drag the clip’s center point and position the clip at the starting point of the motion path you want to create.

    Figure. Canvas window showing the starting point for a clip's motion path.
  6. Add a keyframe at the starting point.

    For more information, see Setting Keyframes.

  7. Move the playhead to the location where you want to add your next keyframe.

  8. Drag the clip to the next position in the Canvas.

    Figure. Canvas window showing a clip being dragged to the position of the next keyframe.

    Final Cut Pro automatically adds a new keyframe and creates the appropriate motion path in the Canvas. Repeat steps 7 and 8 to add as many keyframes as you need.

Adding, Moving, and Deleting Keyframes in Motion Paths

You can edit a motion path directly in the Canvas by adding, dragging, or deleting keyframes. The playhead doesn’t need to be over a keyframe for you to move or delete it, nor does the playhead location prohibit you from adding additional keyframes to the motion path using the Pen tool.

To add a keyframe to a motion path without moving the playhead
Do one of the following:
  • Select the Pen tool in the Tool palette (or press the P key), then click anywhere on a motion path to create a new keyframe.

  • With the Selection tool selected, hold down the Option key to temporarily activate the Pen tool, then click anywhere on a motion path.

To move a keyframe in a motion path without moving the playhead
  • Using the Selection tool, drag a keyframe in a motion path anywhere in the Canvas.

    Tip: You can drag a keyframe in a motion path outside the visible area of the Canvas to move the clip offscreen. Zoom out of the Canvas to shrink the viewable area and make this easier.

To delete a keyframe in a motion path without moving the playhead
Do one of the following:
  • Control-click a keyframe, then choose Delete from the shortcut menu.

  • Select the Pen tool in the Tool palette (or press the P key), then Option-click an existing keyframe.

Creating Curved Motion Paths Using Bezier Handles

When you add a keyframe to a motion path, it’s a Bezier point (also known as a corner point) by default. You can change corner points into curves by using the Smooth Point tool to add Bezier handles to these points, smoothing the motion path that the anchor point of the clip follows. When you use Bezier handles to create curved motion paths in the Canvas, you won’t need to use as many keyframes to define complex motion paths.

Figure. Canvas windows showing a motion path with keyframes as corner points and a curved motion path created by adding Bezier handles to the keyframes.

Bezier handles on motion paths in the Canvas work the same way as they do for keyframes in the Motion tab, except that they affect the spatial motion of the clip, rather than the velocity of the clip’s change over time. (To change the acceleration or deceleration of a clip’s motion between two keyframes, you need to create separate Bezier handles in the Center parameter in the Motion tab.)

To add Bezier handles to a keyframe in a motion path
  • Select the Smooth Point tool in the Tool palette (or press the P key three times), then click a corner point to add Bezier handles.

    The velocity of these keyframes is automatically set to Linear, meaning that there is a steady rate of speed as the clip moves from one keyframe to the next on the motion path.

You can add Bezier handles to a keyframe on a motion path and change the acceleration at the same time. For more information, see Controlling Speed Along a Motion Path.

To change the shape of the motion path
  • Drag the Bezier handles on a keyframe.

    If you want to create more complex motion paths, you can use modifier keys to adjust the Bezier handles on each side of a keyframe independently of the other.

To adjust curves in a motion path
  • Drag a Bezier handle to change the shape of its curve.

To resize one side of a Bezier handle independently of the other
  • Hold down the Shift key as you drag a Bezier handle. Release the Shift key to lock the relative length of the two handles back together using the new unequal lengths you set.

    Figure. Canvas window showing one side of a keyframe's Bezier handle being dragged independently of the other.
To change the angle between one side of a Bezier handle and the other
  • Hold down the Command key as you drag a Bezier handle. Release the Command key to lock the new relative angle of the two handles back together.

    Figure. Canvas window showing the angle of one side of a Bezier curve being changed independently of the other.
To change the length and angle of one side of a Bezier handle independently of the other
  • Hold down the Command and Shift keys as you drag a Bezier handle.

    Figure. Canvas window showing the length and angle of one side of a Bezier handle being changed independently of the other.
To remove Bezier handles from a keyframe in a motion path
Do one of the following:
  • Control-click a keyframe with Bezier handles in the Canvas, then choose Make Corner Point from the shortcut menu.

  • Select the Smooth Point tool in the Tool palette (or press the P key three times), then click a keyframe with Bezier handles.

Controlling Speed Along a Motion Path

The speed at which a clip travels along a motion path is determined by two factors:

  • The spatial, or physical, distance between two keyframes in the Canvas: The farther a clip has to travel in a given duration, the faster its apparent movement. The less distance a clip moves, given the same amount of time, the slower it appears to go.
  • The duration, or distance in time, between two keyframes in the Center parameter of a clip’s Motion tab: Two keyframes 1 second apart result in faster motion than two keyframes 4 seconds apart.

You can modify a clip’s velocity, changing the quality of its movement. With no velocity adjustments, clips move at full speed and then come to a full stop. This can result in abrupt, artificial-looking motion. Final Cut Pro gives you the ability to change the velocity of a clip’s motion over time, using velocity handles to modify the keyframes of a clip’s motion path in the Canvas.

By adjusting a keyframe’s velocity in the Canvas, inertia can be added to a clip’s motion. You can adjust the first keyframe of a motion path so that, instead of taking off at full speed from a complete stop, the clip starts off slowly and then speeds up over time. These speed changes are indicated by velocity tick marks along that clip’s motion path.

Note: In the two examples below, the motion is at a single constant speed.

Figure. Canvas windows showing closely spaced tick marks that indicate fast motion and tick marks spaced farther apart that indicate slower motion.

To vary the acceleration of this clip along its motion path, you must first add Bezier handles to the keyframes you want to adjust (see Creating Curved Motion Paths Using Bezier Handles). A velocity handle appears as a small purple dot between the keyframe and the end of the Bezier handle. You can then modify the velocity handle attached to each Bezier handle for these keyframes.

Figure. Canvas window showing velocity handles for keyframes in a motion path.

The velocity of a clip’s motion from one keyframe to the next can be modified by dragging the velocity handle in and out along the Bezier handle.

To speed up a clip’s motion at the beginning and slow it down as it nears the next keyframe
  • Drag the velocity handle in toward the selected keyframe.

    Figure. Canvas window showing a velocity handle dragged toward a keyframe to speed up the clip's motion at the beginning.
To slow down a clip’s motion at the beginning and speed it up as it nears the next keyframe
  • Drag the velocity handle away from the selected keyframe.

    Figure. Canvas window showing a velocity handle dragged away from a keyframe to slow down the clip's motion at the beginning.
To add Bezier handles to a keyframe and change the acceleration
  • Control-click a keyframe, then choose an option from the shortcut menu, depending on the kind of acceleration you want.

    Figure. Shortcut menu showing the Ease In/Ease Out and Linear commands.
    • Ease In/Ease Out: Bezier handles are added to the keyframe, and the velocity handle is set for motion to begin slowly and then speed up over time as the clip moves from that keyframe to the next one on the motion path.
    • Linear: Bezier handles are added to the keyframe, and the velocity handle is set to provide a steady rate of speed as the clip moves from that keyframe to the next one on the motion path.

      Note: Both commands create Bezier handles with the same controls.

Important: The velocity at which clips speed up into or slow down out of keyframed motion in the Canvas has no effect on the overall speed of the clip’s motion.

Moving an Entire Motion Path in the Canvas

If you’re happy with the shape of a motion path, but you want to move it to a different position, you can move an entire motion path for one or more selected items directly in the Canvas.

To move selected motion paths
  1. In the Canvas, do one of the following:

    • Choose View > Image+Wireframe.

    • Choose View > Wireframe.

  2. Hold down the Command and Shift keys, select the clip in the Canvas, then drag the clip to move the motion path.

    Don’t click a keyframe or you’ll move the keyframe itself and not the entire motion path.

    Figure. Canvas window showing a pointer changing to a hand while a motion path is dragged.

Creating and Applying Motion Favorites

If there’s a particular set of keyframed motion effects that you want to use over and over again, you can create a motion favorite. For example, suppose you’re working on a documentary that always moves a lower third graphic with the name of the current speaker into the video frame along a particular motion path. You can save this motion path as a favorite so that you can apply it to all the lower third titles in your project without having to re-create the path from scratch every time.

To create a motion favorite
  1. Select a clip in the Timeline that has a series of motion effect keyframes that you want to use as a favorite.

    This clip can have as many keyframes in as many motion parameters as you want.

  2. Choose Effects > Make Favorite Motion (or press Control-F).

    All motion effect keyframes from that clip are saved as a motion favorite in the Favorites bin of the Effects tab of the Browser. By default, the motion favorite has the name of the clip the motion effect keyframes were copied from, but you can change this name.

To change the name of a motion favorite
  1. Select the motion favorite in the Favorites bin of the Effects tab of the Browser.

  2. Click the name of the motion favorite, type a new name, then press Return.

When you apply a motion favorite to a clip in your sequence, it’s not like applying a filter. There is no special object (such as a filter) that is attached to your clip. Instead, applying a motion favorite applies all the motion effect keyframes in that favorite to the motion parameters of the clip. These keyframes can then be further modified at any time.

To apply a motion favorite to a clip in your sequence
Do one of the following:
  • Select one or more clips in the Timeline, choose Effects > Motion Favorites, then choose the motion favorite you want to apply from the submenu.

  • In the Timeline, assign the video track containing the clip to which you want to apply the motion favorite as the destination track, then place the Timeline playhead over that clip. Choose Effects > Motion Favorites, then choose an item from the submenu.

  • In the Browser, drag a motion favorite from the Favorites bin of the Effects tab to a clip in your sequence.

  • In the Timeline, select a group of clips in your sequence, then drag a motion favorite from the Favorites bin of the Effects tab of the Browser to this group.

Because motion favorites apply keyframes to a clip’s motion parameters, to remove the effect from your clip you need to reset the motion parameters that were modified in that clip’s Motion tab.

You can also remove unused motion favorites that you no longer want to appear in the Motion Favorites submenu.

To remove a motion favorite from the Motion Favorites submenu
  1. In the Browser, open the Favorites bin of the Effects tab.

  2. Select the motion effect item you want to remove.

  3. Choose Edit > Clear (or press Delete).