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Lesson 1. A Tour of Motion > Setting the Play Range

Setting the Play Range

OK, so we haven't done anything revolutionary just yet; we could have done the same by opening the movie in the QuickTime Player. Before we get more adventurous, though, we need to set up what's called the play range in preparation for real-time previewing.

Press the spacebar to halt playback. The spacebar toggles between play and stop.

Press F5 and then F6 to hide the Project and Timing panes. We're not using them right now, so there's no need to have them cluttering the screen. You may also notice a small, semi-transparent window called the Dashboard. Press F7 to hide it for now.

If you look at the very bottom of the Canvas, just above the Play button, you'll see a blue bar with the name Butterfly.


If you don't see the blue bar, you've probably deselected the butterfly object. Click the butterfly in the Canvas view to reselect the clip.

This bar is part of what's called the mini-Timeline. It shows you where a selected object starts and finishes. When projects get complicated with lots of objects and effects, it's much easier to make changes to the In and Out points of an object here than in the main Timeline.

Just above the bar is another little strip with three main features: the play range In point, the play range Out point, and the playhead. You may have noticed the playhead moving from left to right while you were playing the butterfly animation earlier.

Your final composite could last anywhere from a couple of seconds to a couple of minutes or even longer. Motion does its magic by loading all the objects into the system RAM, a process known as caching. At some point you're going to run out of RAM.


If you want more RAM for your real-time Motion previews without having to run to the local Apple Store, make sure you have no other applications running in the background. Having Photoshop launched with an iLoad of images open is going to siphon off a lot of precious system RAM. Also, use high-resolution monitor settings and multiple monitors sparingly. The more pixels making up your Desktop, the more work the graphics processor needs to do, leaving it less power for Motion magic.

To make sure that Motion can comfortably play your entire sequence, we're going to adjust the play range. That way, Motion will need to cache only a portion of our project instead of the whole thing.

Drag the play range In point marker to the right. As you do so, a yellow tooltip appears, indicating the frame where your In point marker is positioned. When the tooltip reads 20, release the mouse. You've now set the new In point for the play range.


Even though we've set the play range In point to 20, the project itself still starts at frame 1. All this means is that while previewing our composite we'll only be able to preview frames 20 and beyond. The final render of our project will still include frames 1 through 19, as well as any frames beyond the play range Out point.

Click and hold the mouse in the Current Frame field just below the left side of the mini-Timeline. Drag the pointer left and right to change the frame value. Notice how the playhead moves as you adjust the value.

You're using a hot scrub numeric entry box. All of Motion's parameter boxes can be modified this way. You can also enter a specific number by clicking once inside the box, typing the number, and pressing Return.

When the current frame reads 120, release the mouse.

We're now going to set the play range Out point, but instead of dragging the marker, we'll use another hot key.

Press Cmd-Option-O. Instantly the play range Out point marker jumps to where the playhead is positioned—in our case, 120 (since we just set it there).

The play range is now set from frame 20 to frame 120. This means that when we press the spacebar to begin playback, Motion will play only the 101 frames contained within the play range region.



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