Motion is a software application produced by Apple Inc. for their Mac OS X operating system. It is used to create and edit motion graphics, titling for video production and film production, and 2D and 3D compositing for visual effects.
The original product, codenamed "Molokini," was demonstrated on April 19, 2004. At a pre-NAB event in April 2005, Apple released the second version of Motion along with new revisions of the other Pro applications, optimised for the Power Mac G5 and Mac OS X 10.4.
Motion 5 was introduced on June 21st, 2011 and once again became available as a stand-alone product through the Mac App Store at a reduced price of $49.99. Version 5.5 was released on November 12, 2020 with support for macOS Big Sur and Apple M1-based Macs.
Motion is a motion graphics and compositing application similar in some ways to After Effects and Discreet Combustion. With version 3, Apple added 3D compositing, vector paint, and motion tracking to Motion's toolbox. This added power, plus the GPU accelerated nature of Motion, allows it to be seen as an alternative to those packages for titling and simple animation projects.
Features of Motion include the ability to create custom particle effects (as well as using pre-built ones) and to add filters, effects and animations in real time. Motion has the ability to address up to 32 GB of RAM and GPU acceleration at 8-bit, 16-bit and 32-bit float color depths. Motion 2 can also integrate with a MIDI keyboard, so that parameters can be controlled by keys or faders; this opens up the possibility real time parameter input into Motion. In addition Motion 3 now allows for complete 2D and 3D compositing in a multiplane environment.
As well as supporting traditional keyframe animation, Motion introduced a system of pre-set 'behaviors' which can be combined to create realistic animations. For instance, the 'throw' behaviour will move an object across the screen. Combined with the 'gravity' behavior, it will simulate a realistic arc of motion. The effects can be tweaked utilizing various parameters, varying the strength of the bounces, the amount of gravity to apply and so on.
This is very different from traditional animation software, which requires the use of keyframes to determine the position of an object at any given time. Such software then automatically creates motion to fill the spaces between the keyframes. This makes it easy to know exactly where objects are on the screen at any given time, but it is considerably more difficult to create realistic animations that build up on different, conflicting forces.
The Replicator and Particle Emitters
In Version 2 a new 'replicator' function was introduced, which allows an object to be replicated to create a repeating pattern of a specified size and shape. With this tool, it is possible to create animations in which the elements of a replicated pattern move in sequence.
'Particle emitters' allow the user to set a pre-drawn shape to rapidly generate copies of itself and emit them across the screen. The direction and intensity can be adjusted, and combined with behaviors to create very complex animations quickly and easily. For example, a particle emitter used in conjunction with a star shape and the 'vortex' behaviour would animate a circle of swirling stars.
Motion features a floating semi-transparent window ("head-up display", or HUD) which displays the most commonly altered parameters of the object or effect currently selected. This allows the user to make quick adjustments without having to search through palettes and menus. However, exact numerical values cannot be entered in this window.
Motion has the following tools available for the creation or manipulation of graphics on the canvas:
- Anchor point - each object has an 'anchor point' that acts as the centre of rotation or enlargement.
- Shear mapping
- Drop shadow
- Four Corner, which changes the perspective of objects.
- Bézier curve adjustment
- Rectangle, ellipse, Bézier curve and B-spline creation tools.
- The text tool.
- Rectangle, ellipse, Bézier and B-spline masking tools (which define the part of an object that is visible).
These tools can be accessed from the toolbar at the top of the screen or with keyboard commands.
How Motion works
Motion uses pixel shaders which move the processing of video effects to the graphics processing unit (GPU) of a modern graphics card. Motion is also compatible with Apple's Core Image technology, allowing one to use the Image Units that come standard with Mac OS X Tiger. Like pixel shaders, Core Image 'stacks' various effects, allowing a number of effects to be combined together without slow-down. A faster graphics card improves performance. Motion is also the first Pro App to introduce FxPlug Apple's plug-in architecture that allows for GPU acceleration.
In Motion, users import their own graphics files and use pre-prepared graphics such as text and shapes. Objects can be grouped into layers, but they always retain their own distinct identity. These various parts are then grouped into a single layer. Selecting that layer permits moving all of the objects as a single body.
- Wiggins, P. (August, 2004). Motion 1. First review of Motion".
- Lindsay, A. (November, 2004). Motion. DV, 12, 54 – 58.
- Apple Updates All Pro Video and Audio Apps for Big Sur - FCP 10.5 Is Here! by Peter Wiggins, FCP.co. 2020-11-12.