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motion_icon.gifMotion does a good job of hiding its 3D capabilities when you're working primarily in 2D.  But there's a dark side to that simplicity: you'll find that Motion provides two completely different tools to accomplish some of the same tasks in 2D and 3D.  For example, you can adjust the position, rotation, and scale of a 2D layer using the regular Select/Transform tool (the arrow tool) -- which gives you the grey circle-and-crosshair with the rotation "lollipop" that appears when you click on any regular 2D layer in your Canvas.

Even without using Motion's full 3D capabilities, though, you can manipulate those same 2D layers using the same transformation tools that apply in 3D space.  To make it even more confusing, the tool has the same name: the Select/Transform tool!  The 3D Transform Tool is the second tool from the left at the top of your Canvas window: it looks like a little atom alongside a little arrow.


With the 3D Transform Tool active, you see the 3D transform widget when you have a layer selected.  The colored arrows move your layer's position in "3D Space," while the tiny hoops at the end of the arrows allow you to rotate your layer in 3D.  Notice that, when you first work with a 2D layer using the 3D Transform Tool, it looks like there are only two arrows, red and green: this is a bit of an illusion.  The blue "dot" that you see is actually the third (Z-axis) arrow; it just looks like a dot because it's pointing directly at you.  Be aware that, if you reposition your layer using the blue dot, you're NOT scaling the layer: you're actually "pushing" or "pulling" the layer away from or toward your point of view.
transform2.pngtransform33.pngBecause 3D can be confusing at first, I strongly encourage you to use the constrained translation capabilities of the 3D Transform tool as you're starting out.  In other words, do NOT simply click on the layer and move it around as you would in 2D: instead, mouse over the colored arrows.  When you mouse over each arrow, it will turn yellow, indicating that if you click and drag, you can only move the layer along the axis where the arrow is pointing.  This prevents you from inadvertently moving the 3D layer through all three dimensions at once, and it's especially relevant when you're trying to position more than one layer relative to each other in 3D.

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Trimming Clips in Final Cut Pro was the previous entry in this blog.

PulpFx Abstract Plug-in for Final Cut Pro is the next entry in this blog.

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