General Motion Graphics Tools

The tools commonly used for motion graphics fall into several categories.

Design Tools

Graphic designers have long used software to facilitate their work. Motion has incorporated many of the most valuable features commonly found in layout and design applications, including guides, alignment aids, and direct manipulation tools for positioning, transforming, and distorting images. Motion also contains some of the most flexible and sophisticated tools for creating and handling text elements. This is important because text is such a critical component of motion graphics design.

Timing Tools

The principal difference between traditional design and motion graphics design is that motion graphics design is time-based. Motion graphics artists are concerned with creating a well-composed and readable layout that can be manipulated over time. Motion provides a Timeline that contains tools usually found in video editing applications, including tools for setting markers, trimming, slipping, and snapping—enabling you to compose and precisely hone the temporal aspects of a kinetic project.

Motion also supports audio files, and includes tools for basic audio mixing, enabling you to create a soundtrack for your project and make timing decisions based upon the interplay of audio and visual elements. You can animate images, filters, behaviors, and other elements to create elegant and precise compositions. Furthermore, you can retime your footage using optical-flow technology to create special effects such as stutter and flash frames.

2D and 3D Compositing Tools

Any time you have more than one image layer onscreen, you must employ some version of compositing to combine the elements. This might mean moving image layers onscreen so they don’t overlap, adjusting the layers’ opacities so they are partly visible, or incorporating blend modes that mix the overlapping images in various ways. Compositing is fundamental to motion graphics work. Fortunately, Motion makes it easier than ever before, allowing you to control layer order, lock and group layers, and apply more than 25 different blending options to create unique effects.

You can also mix 2D and 3D groups in a single project, combining basic compositing techniques with complex 3D animations.

Special Effects Tools

You can further enhance your motion graphics projects by employing many of the same tools used in movies to combine dinosaurs with live actors, sink luxury liners in the ocean, or create space battles. Motion elegantly handles many special effects techniques, including keying (to isolate an object shot against a solid-colored background), masking (to hide wires or other objects that should not be seen in the final image), keyframing (to animate onscreen objects), and particle systems (to simulate natural phenomena such as smoke, fire, and water).