Motion 3

Not your father’s Motion: Have you been working out? Apple’s Motion has been bulking up with powerful new vector paint, match move, and 3D capabilities. In a world crowded with powerful visual-making tools, it’s starting to at last differentiate a unique, Motion-y way of working — one that should be easily combined with other tools for those of us who can just never get enough eye candy.

This weekend I’m diving deeper into Apple Motion 3 in Final Cut Studio 2. So far, lots of great new possibilities with match move, genuine 3D (i.e., with a Z-axis you can actually do something with), and vector paint — and, of course, I’m looking for ways to abuse all of it. Expect some “How Not to Use Motion” tips and techniques soon. Because, really, you don’t want to look like the presets.

Theoretically, there are people using Motion for live visuals, but I’ve yet to meet someone who’s actually doing it as opposed to just talking about it or demoing it lecture-style. I should have a MacBook Pro very soon for testing. That would allow running Motion stuff on one machine while keeping another piece of gear handy for more traditional video (while you load new Motion projects, for instance). With the new 3D stuff, I could see creating some dynamic, live stuff. Easy? Necessary? Probably not. Worth doing because it’s there? Heck, yeah.

Motion does look promising, as well, for generating footage. I love programming generative visuals in Jitter or Processing, but you do occasionally want to produce visuals in less time-consuming ways. As opposed to previous versions, this is a release where you won’t immediately say, “I can do that in Quartz Composer!”

Anyone else out there working with Motion yet want to share impressions? (Even using it … properly?)

  • Bryant Place

    Is it at all possible to acquire Motion 3 without purchasing the entire studio package? I have used Motion to generate clips for my sets.
    Alpha+Transparent exports work great with keying!

  • manu / ILILT

    Motion3 is very good. I have now start to use it instead of after effects as much as possible but you need a very good GPU (at least ati X800). 3D is not as good as Afx yet but still good.
    On the other hand you have now time remapping, more midi control and audio behaviors which are ace for visualists i think.
    If you can afford some plug ins the experience will be even better
    conduit (node compositing inside motion a la shake)
    Layerlink (multi layers illustrator files inside motion)
    So more things to find/invest but overall good first impression…i only have it for a week ,)

  • nobbystylus

    Its fantastic for repeated generative style visuals, particularly using the replicator and the particle generator. Using midi to control things like wave speed, the proper LFO style behaviours, and its move into the Z-space make it really great for live visuals. The only issues are how optimised it is at the moment, which i'm hoping they get sorted asap as i'm getting crashes and slowdowns on a regular basis, on my laptop MBP and on my desktop MacPro.. Speed ups please apple!!

  • Allan White

    @ Bryant: no, Motion cannot be bought separately.

    As for live visuals: I think a top-end Mac Pro (4-core would do) and an ATI X1900 with a fast RAID might do the trick. However, it wouldn't take long to start slowing down, esp. with lots of particle generators and such.

    A more likely scenario that still might be useful is to generate something, say a 10-sec. loop and hit Apple-R to render it – a few passes and it will start to play smoothly. If you can send that animation (not sure about how to key it, several ways probably but requiring a switcher) to an output (DVI or perhaps even a BlackMagic Intensity HDMI card) that could be cool. It would at the least be a way to generate them in very short order, then key them. You'd still need some lead times to make them.

    You might not even have to hit Apple-R to render; just letting it loop once while playing will increase playback speed.

    Using the Behaviors is a very cool way to get seamless loops and such, such as the Parameter Behavior.

  • Peter Kirn

    Re: separate Motion: I'm actually disappointed Apple has discontinued separate products, especially for Soundtrack Pro. But in this case, it makes some sense … and part of the appeal of Motion is really that you'll wind up with it anyway via Final Cut Studio, which is an impressive value for what you get (especially with Color, etc., now).

    I am going to test Motion on a Mac Pro. Actually, what you could do is use the Mac Pro for mixing two MacBook Pros. But yes, while a quad Mac Pro is *highly* desirable, we'll see what happens with the MBP, too — I'll be able to do a comparison. Mobile Motion has a lot of appeal. (By the way, though you could get RAID even on a laptop via FW800, why would you *need* RAID for stuff that's largely happening on the GPU? Unless you're talking about some sophisticated video compositing?)

  • Allan White

    @ Peter: The new MBP's have a really good video card – see for some comparisons. They actually beat some Mac Pros with some other video card configs. Motion, of course, is all about the GPU.

    Good point about the RAID – not necessary but nice to have. Depends on the content your using – if you are compositing multiple clips, a RAID really helps. If you can afford a Mac Pro, might as well throw a few disks in there at RAID 0.

  • toby *spark

    "As opposed to previous versions, this is a release where you won’t immediately say, “I can do that in Quartz Composer!” …but now you can use motion to render out those audio reactive quartz composer patches, right?

    well, actually, thats something i'm having mixed results with, but the potential is there. and there needs to be a sane way to pass the audio analysis through.


  • Peter Kirn

    You'll definitely be able to render those in VDMX … but in the meantime (since that's another tool entirely), I'll give it a go in Motion, too!

  • thomase

    I might be a bit slow today – but what exactly would be the problem with using MOTION on a MBP? I held back on the purchase of a new machine for ages and I know I need one THIS year! So I I thought the lowest MBP should be able to do the job (I'm running MOTION 2 on a G4!!!) Is the faster card REALLY worth the 500 bucks? In other words: Is the middle configuration the entry level for MOTION 3?

  • mxmai

    i could never get anywhere near enough stability from Motion 2 on my Macbook Pro to use it live; I'd be lucky to get 60 minutes out of it without a crash. I haven't managed to try 3 yet, but I'm very interested in the possibility of a live aspect; particularly if midi control is worked in properly…

  • Boya

    Have not gotten Motion 3 yet, but from reading above, it seems Motion 3 has the same problems as Motion 2.

    In M2, the more midi controllers you added a crash was more likely. If M3 is acting the same way, maybe someone would file a bug report with Apple.

    Also, the project sometimes would not restart if the playhead was far out into the timeline. Always saving with playhead at 0 saved me some work. Anyways complicated projects with about 6-10 midi controllers always ended up catastrophic for me.

  • klif

    Boye, problem with playhead too far probably has to do with the fact that, if you composition uses particles of some sort, Motion has to caluculate all the particles from the beginning in order to render the frame at the end of composition. I really hated this, when i was doing some longer particle based backgrounds on old G4. If I would click too far, i had to wait few minutes for the system to respond again…

  • paul

    Motion is NOT a LIVE TOOL

    Stop complaining about something that Motion ISNT!!!

    Motion 3 kicks even Combustions ass (same develop team ofcourse)

  • Christopher

    I just installed Motion 3. It looks like a great program but it crashes when I start adding behaviors and generators. Just playing with it crashes the program. Is this happening to other people

    iMac G% intel.

  • Peter Kirn

    @Paul: I agree to some extent. But Apple does tout the MIDI features for studio production work, too, so there may be room for improvement.

    @Christopher: Have you tried installing the Pro Applications Updates from Apple? One of those fixed some behavior-related crashes.