Replicator Concepts

The replicator in Motion builds patterns of repeating elements with minimum effort. The elements of the patterns can consist of video, still images, shapes, text, or any other type of layer in a Motion project. For example, with very few clicks of your mouse you can create spinning loops based on a basic shape.

Figure. Canvas window showing examples of replicators.

Replicator parameters can be keyframed to change a pattern’s dynamics over time. For example, you can create a wave of dots that follow one another across the screen by keyframing the replicator’s Offset parameter.

Figure. Canvas showing a replicator with a keyframed Offset parameter.

You can add behaviors to the replicator or its cells to create even more varied effects (simulation behaviors can be especially effective). Behaviors applied to a replicator or a cell can be applied to each element of the pattern. This lets you achieve almost limitless variation and complexity that would take hours to animate using keyframes. You can also apply a behavior, such as Vortex, to another object in your project (an object that is not part of the replicator pattern), and have the pattern elements circumnavigate that object.

A special behavior called Sequence Replicator allows you to choreograph the parameters of your onscreen elements (their position, scale, and opacity, for example) in a sequential animation. For more information, see Using the Sequence Replicator Behavior.

Replicators take advantage of Motion’s 3D capabilities. Some replicator shapes are inherently 3D, and others can have points that exist in 3D space. Additionally, behaviors applied to a replicator can pull pattern elements out of a plane. For more information, see Using Replicators in 3D Space.

The Difference Between a Replicator and a Particle System

Although the replicator and particle systems share many parameters, they are very different tools. Although both use layers (shapes, text, images, and so on) as cell sources and both generate onscreen elements from those sources, each produces a unique effect from those raw materials. A particle system generates dynamic elements that change over time: Particles are born, emerging from an onscreen “emitter”; they move across the Canvas; and they die, according to the “laws of nature” you specify in the parameters of the system.

A replicator, however, is not a dynamic simulation. Its elements are not emitted like particles (replicator elements do not have birth rate, life, or speed parameters). The replicator builds a pattern of static copies of a source layer in a shape and arrangement that you specify. Although the replicated elements you see onscreen are static by default, the replicator parameters can be animated. For example, you can designate a simple star shape as the source of your onscreen pattern and then replicate the star multiple times along the outline of a circle. By keyframing a few parameters of your new replicator layer, you can launch the stars into animated orbit around the center of the circle, making them change color as they whirl.