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Final Cut Studio brings a new level of simplicity and flexibility to the post-production process, and Motion is no exception. Seasoned special effects guys may want the extra horsepower of heavier-duty software like After Effects, Shake, or Combustion -- but Motion is sophisticated enough for most people's needs, and it comes with an especially artist-oriented interface. Once you understand it properly, Behavior-based animation is one of those big boons for the creative process.

Background

Traditionally, motion graphics use keyframes as their central organizing principle. This came directly from traditional animation: master animators would illustrate "key" positions in the scene, then tell the junior animators to fill in the remaining frames with a gradual transition from one key position to another. Motion graphics software worked the same way. To accomplish animation, you'd pick the parameter you wanted to animate, tell the computer a beginning and end point (and maybe some points in between), then let the computer fill in the blanks.

That process is powerful, but it's sort of a "computer-oriented" way of thinking that's not always well-suited to the creative process. Keyframe-based animation, sophisticated though it can be, doesn't really care about what's actually happening on screen: it's "flat," in a sense.

Consider, for example, the sophisticated text transitions that Motion and Livetype are famous for. Creatively, we think of a text transition as just that: "bring that text onto the screen." To accomplish Motion's letter-by-letter transitions using keyframes in their most traditional sense, though, we'd have to break the text down to its individual letters, then animate each letter's behavior individually. This could easily be hundreds of keyframes' worth of hassle, but so far it's no big deal. Now imagine Mr. Producer sitting over your shoulder. "Make that text come in faster. Oh, and I don't like the order the letters are coming in."

Keyframes can't accommodate functional questions like that -- but Behaviors can. Behaviors try to wrap up animation in more logical terms: what do you want to happen, when do you want it to start, and when do you want it to end? If you want more than one thing to happen at the same time, just stack the Behaviors where they overlap in the timeline. If you decide you don't like a Behavior, you can switch it on and off or delete it completely -- at any point in the creative process -- without affecting the rest of what you've done to that layer. For that matter, you can copy and paste Behaviors (or sets of Behaviors) between layers and they'll work in similar ways, even if those layers are in different positions, scales, and so forth. None of this is particularly easy to do with keyframes.

Practical
  1. Open up Motion. Use the Text tool to create a block of text in your Canvas. text-tool.png
  2. 2) Using the Behaviors drop-down, add a Text Behavior to your text layer. To keep things simple, we'll use the Random Reveal behavior which you can find in the Text Behaviors/Basic tab. add-text-behavior-motion.png
  3. Open your Timing pane if it's not already on your screen (the Timing button is at the top right of your screen). Notice how the Random Reveal Behavior shows up in purple underneath your text layer.  The Random Reveal Behavior, by default, will take 60 frames (2 seconds) -- let's make it faster.
  4. Grab the "end point" handle of the behavior, on the right-hand edge of the behavior, and drag it towards the beginning of your timeline. Now, when you play the composition, you'll notice that the reveal happens faster.  I've set my Random Reveal to take 30 frames, or 1 second.resize-behavior.png
  5. As the text comes on screen, notice that the letters just "pop on."  To demonstrate how you can go back and tweak behaviors easily, let's make those letters fade on instead.  If the Inspector isn't already open, click the "Inspector" icon at the top right of your screen to open it.
  6. Be sure your text is selected (in the Canvas or the Timing Pane). If it is, then you should see controls for the Random Reveal behavior on the Behavior tab of the Inspector.  To make letters fade on, we'll want to adjust the Spread control: slide it up to 6.behavior-inspector.png
  7. There's a lot more that you can do with Behaviors from this point out.  Try some of the following suggestions:
  • Add another text item to the Canvas.  Copy and paste the "tweaked" Random Reveal so that the new text item reveals the same way.  (Hint: In the Timing Pane, select the Random Reveal behavior, use Cmd+C to copy, then select the new text item, and use Cmd+V to paste).
  • Make a transition out for your text.  This requires a few steps: add a Text Behavior, change its Direction to Right to Left, then shift it to the end of the text object.  I'll go over it in detail in a future tutorial.
  • Add a behavior to the entire group containing your text items.  Note that Text Behaviors won't work on non-text layers: you'd be better off picking something like the Spin behavior (in the Basic category of Behaviors).
  • If you know how to keyframe in Motion, see how Behaviors interact with keyframes.  For example, you could keyframe the text object to move horizontally across the screen, then add a vertical Throw (Behaviors --> Basic --> Throw).

Of course, we cover all of this and much more in our two-day Motion training class (which is also part of the Final Cut Studio Advanced Class).  For more information about either one, give us a call at 1-888-566-1881, or email me and I'll help you work out some training to meet your needs.
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