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If you're not accustomed to working in 3D space, you might find Motion's 3D features intimidating.  You shouldn't.  Motion's 3D capabilities strike a great compromise between simplicity and power -- and just a glance at some of Motion's pre-built 3D templates will convince you of the power.

The Very Basics

The first step in understanding Motion's 3D space is to rewind to high school geometry: what are those three dimensions?  Remember that flat surfaces (like graphs, or TV screeens) have a horizontal "X" axis and a vertical "Y" axis -- and that an "axis" just means that an object can move in that direction without changing its position in the other direction.  So if I were to take, say, a piece of text, and make it scroll from the bottom of the screen to the top, I'd be moving only along the Y-axis of the screen: it's in the same place horizontally.

If you the viewer are looking directly at the screen, then that third dimension -- the "Z" axis -- just describes objects on the screen moving closer or farther from you.  In and of itself, this doesn't mean much: if an object is moving only along the Z-axis, it's staying in the same position vertically and horizontally.  Essentially, you'd just see it appearing bigger as it comes closer towards you or smaller as it goes farther away.

3D space begins to become cooler when you realize that, once you've pulled objects off the flat space of the screen, you can start spinning them around and treating them like objects in the real world.  The most basic example of this is the age old "3D Spin" transition: picking up a layer and rotating it where it "flips" towards you or away from you.  In the practical exercise for today, we'll see that you can use Motion's rotation controls to do this easily.

Read on for the practical ...

Practical Application

I hope that my descriptions of these steps give you enough to work with.  I'll point out, though, that we're also working on a bunch of video tutorials here at GeniusDV.  If you think a video tutorial would be easier to follow for this lesson, let me know and I'll bump it to the top of the list.

First, open Motion and drag a couple of objects into the Canvas -- videos, still images, whatever you'd like.  You can find a ton of content in the Motion Library within the software, or you can use your own.

Now, open the Layers palette and convert the group with your media into a 3D group by clicking on the Mode Status Indicator. 
Click the Adjust 3D Transform tool at the top of the canvas (adjust-3d-transform-tool.png).  Click on one of the layers in your Canvas.  Notice how you see a set of three arrows -- one of them is pointing directly towards you, so it looks like a blue dot right now. 

3d-transform-arrows.pngThese arrows correspond to each of those three dimensions we mentioned earlier: X is red, Y is green, and Z is blue.  If you grab an individual arrow, you're moving the layer only along that dimension; if you grab the layer itself, you're moving the layer through many dimensions at once.  Try using the arrows to move the layer along each dimension.

At the end of the arrows, you'll notice a "hoop."  That hoop is a rotation handle, and it allows you to rotate the object through that dimension.  Try rotating the layers, and notice what happens when layers spin all the way around, and when you rotate them where they cross "through" one another.  Once you've rotated an object, using the arrows to move the objects may make more sense, since you can see the layer moving in 3D space.


Next time, we'll talk about object spaces and Cameras -- in other words, flying through your 3D scene.


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