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Lesson 1. A Tour of Motion > Adding Objects

Adding Objects

Now let's add some more objects to our scene.

Press the spacebar to resume playback. This time Motion loops from frame 20 through 120.

One butterfly is kind of boring the 20th time around. Let's add another one.


Unless you're instructed in this book to stop playback and move to a particular frame, make sure the preview is looping while you add clips to the Canvas. If you add clips to the Canvas while previewing in real time, they are automatically added to the Timeline at frame 1. If you add clips to the Canvas while playback is paused, they are added to the Timeline starting on the frame where the playhead is positioned. For example, if the playhead is paused at frame 39, a clip added to the Canvas will start at frame 39 in the master Timeline. If you accidentally add an object at a frame other than frame 1, press Home to jump to frame 1, and then press Shift-[ to move the object so that it begins at that frame.

You should still see the Butterfly.mov clip in the lower pane of the File Browser. (If you can no longer see the File Browser, press Cmd-1 to retrieve it.) Drag the clip onto the lower-left corner of the Canvas and release the mouse.

We now have two butterflies flapping away on the screen. Problem is, they're identical. We want them to look like two different butterflies.

In the Canvas, drag one of the corner circles of the new butterfly's bounding box in toward the center of the butterfly. As you do so, the butterfly will scale smaller.

Notice how the butterfly is scaling in and out of the corner opposite the one you're dragging.

Press Option-Shift as you drag. Pressing the Option key as you drag scales from the center of the butterfly. Pressing the Shift key scales uniformly in both horizontal and vertical directions, preserving the butterfly's aspect ratio.

Make the butterfly about two-thirds the size of the original. Drag the center of the butterfly to reposition the butterfly if necessary.

Both butterflies should still be playing back in real time, even as you were adjusting the scale of one of them. But we're just getting started.

The second butterfly is flapping its wings in perfect time with the first. If these were really two different butterflies, their wings would beat out of sync.

Drag the blue bar in the mini-Timeline to the left, but do not release the mouse. The blue bar should be labeled Butterfly 1, but you won't be able to see the label after you've dragged it to the left. It will be hidden before frame 1 in the Timeline.

As you drag, you'll see another tooltip appear, this one telling you what the new In and Out points on the project Timeline will be for the selected object (in our case, Butterfly 1). It also shows how far you've moved the clip from where it started—that's the number after the triangle, and it's called the delta.

Release the mouse when the delta value (that's the far-right number displayed in the yellow tooltip) reads –45.

We've now offset the timing of the second butterfly so that it's playing 45 frames ahead of the original butterfly. This helps the illusion that these are two distinct butterflies.

Let's create another butterfly, but this time we'll simply duplicate one of the butterflies already in the Canvas.

Pressing the Option key, drag the butterfly that you've just scaled (the one in the lower left) to the top left of the Canvas.

To recap: We added two of the butterflies by dragging from the File Browser, but we added this third butterfly by Option-dragging one of the two butterflies already in the Canvas. Dragging a butterfly in from the File Browser and duplicating one by holding down the Option key may seem to achieve the same result, but in Motion they are profoundly different things. It's important to understand the distinction between the two methods.

Press F5 to open the Project pane.

Click the Media tab to reveal its contents.

The Media tab lists all the actual media files that are referred to by objects in your project. Notice that there are two listings for Butterfly.mov, the QuickTime clip we dragged in from the File Browser. Hang on, aren't there three butterflies in the project right now?

Each time you drag an object in from the File Browser, that clip is cached into your system RAM and ready for Motion's real-time compositing. In this case we dragged the butterfly into the Canvas twice, so Motion considers these two clips to be cached in the system RAM. But because we Option-dragged the third butterfly, it's considered an instance of the second butterfly clip. That is, there are now two butterflies onscreen referring to the same clip that's been cached to RAM.

Even though it's the same clip on the hard drive, whenever you drag a clip from the File Browser into the Canvas, it's considered a new clip to be cached into RAM. So if you were to continue dragging additional butterflies into the Canvas, you'd be using more and more of your precious RAM. But if you simply Option-drag to make copies, all the copies refer to the same movie clip cached into RAM when the first clip was dragged into the Canvas. This significantly reduces the amount of RAM that Motion needs to preview the clip.

So why would you ever want to drag the same object into the Canvas twice, when it's more efficient to “clone” it by Option-dragging? Well, occasionally you might want the different butterflies to play back at different frame rates or behave differently once you reach the last frame of their movie sequence. Such properties can only be set for individual media clips in the Media tab, not the objects linked to them. The short answer, though, is that you almost always want to Option-drag to make another copy of an object.

Click the Layers tab (or press Cmd-4).

Press F5 to hide the Project pane.

Drag the mini-Timeline for the new butterfly until the delta value in the tooltip reads –35.

Repeat step 8 for a final, fourth butterfly to be positioned in the lower-right corner of the Canvas. Use a delta value of –45.

Click on the original center butterfly to select it.

Notice that the mini-Timeline displays the position in time of whichever object on the Canvas is selected. Now that the original butterfly is selected, the blue bar is once again labeled Butterfly.



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