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Chapter 4. Changing Object Properties > Working with Parameter Controls

Working with Parameter Controls

Each parameter in the Properties tab has a set of controls you can use to enter and adjust values. The transform parameters (Position, Rotation, Scale, Shear and Anchor Point) all have at least one value field. Other parameters have dials, like Rotation, and sliders, like Scale.

Although making changes with dials and sliders is straightforward (spin the dial and drag the slider), you can manipulate value fields in several different ways.

To change the value in a value field:

Do one of the following:

  • Click in the field to highlight the current value and type a new value.

  • Click and drag left or right in the field to scrub a new value.

    Dragging to the right increases the value; dragging to the left decreases the value.

  • Click the arrows to the left or right to change the value in one-unit increments.

✓ Tips

  • To make large value changes, hold down the Shift key while dragging in the value field or clicking the arrows. Values change ten times faster than by simply dragging.

  • To make very small changes, hold down the option key while dragging or clicking. Values change at one-hundredth the rate of simply dragging.


To adjust the Position parameter in the Properties tab:

  • Enter a new value using any of the methods just described.

✓ Tips

  • Position values are measured in pixels. Motion is capable of sub-pixel positioning, meaning you can enter up to two decimal places of precision.

  • Position is a two-dimensional parameter. This means that the first value field changes the horizontal, or x value of an object’s center point, whereas the second field controls the vertical, or y value.

  • Motion sets the center of the Canvas to (0,0). Moving to the left creates negative x values and moving down creates negative y values (Figure 4.24).

    Figure 4.24. Moving an object left and down from center creates negative values.

  • Dragging in the value field is a great way to quickly make large changes in parameter values. Because the changes are updated immediately in the Canvas, you can interactively drag as you watch the object move. This method is great if you want to move an object all the way off the screen in a horizontal or vertical direction without needing to see the area outside the Canvas.


To adjust the Rotation parameter in the Properties tab:

Do one of the following:

  • Enter a new value in the value field.

  • Click and drag the dial (Figure 4.25).

    Figure 4.25. To adjust the Rotation parameter, simply twist the dial and watch as the object moves to reflect the new settings.


✓ Tips

  • Rotation values are measure in degrees, with 360 degrees for each full revolution.

  • It seems counterintuitive, but positive values rotate counterclockwise and negative values rotate clockwise.

  • You can rotate an object multiple times by using values greater than 360 (or –360) degrees. This can be useful when keyframing an object to rotate for several cycles. See Chapter 7 for more information.


To adjust the Scale parameter in the Properties tab:

  • Enter a value in the value field or drag the slider.

✓ Tips

  • Scale values are measured in percentage of the original value.

  • Avoid scaling objects over 100 percent because image quality can start to degrade (see “Pixels and Resolution” earlier in this chapter).

  • Scaling below 0 percent results in negative values and causes the image to flip, creating a mirror image of itself.

  • To scale an object without constraining its aspect ratio, click the disclosure triangle to reveal individual value fields for horizontal and vertical scaling. A dot appears on the combined slider to indicate that the x and y values have been adjusted independently.


To adjust the Shear parameter in the Properties tab:

  • Enter a new value in the value field.

✓ Tips

  • Shear values are measured in degrees, based on the difference between the new bounding box corner angle and the original 90-degree value.


To adjust the Anchor Point parameter in the Properties tab:

  • Enter a value in the value field.

✓ Tip

  • Anchor point values are measured in pixels, based on the difference between them and the original value of (0,0).


Anchor Point and Position

You might have noticed that when you change the location of the anchor point in the Canvas, only the anchor point moves, but when you use the Properties tab of the Inspector to do the same thing, the object moves in the opposite direction! What’s going on here?

Think of it this way: position is determined by the relationship of the anchor point location to the center of the layer on which the object lies. Yet the location of the anchor point is determined by its relationship to the center of the object, not the layer.

So when you change the anchor point without changing position, the object moves in the opposite direction so that the relationship of the anchor point to the layer does not change. I know; it’s difficult to visualize.

When you move the anchor point directly in the Canvas, Motion is actually dynamically adjusting the position values at the same time to compensate for your adjustment. Try it with the Properties tab visible and see for yourself.


To adjust the Four Corner parameter in the Properties tab:

1.
Click the disclosure triangle to reveal the Four Corner parameters (Figure 4.26).

Figure 4.26. Reveal the Four Corner properties by clicking the disclosure triangle.


2.
Click the check box to the left of Four Corner to make your changes visible in the Canvas.

3.
Make changes in the value fields for the x,y coordinates for each corner of the bounding box.

✓ Tips

  • It’s usually much easier to set the Four Corner parameters by dragging the bounding box in the Canvas (after switching to the Four Corner mode).

  • The visibility check box is very useful for quickly turning off your changes. The values remain stored with the parameter, so you can turn them back on anytime by clicking the check box again.


To adjust the Crop parameter in the Properties tab:

1.
Click the disclosure triangle to reveal the Crop properties (Figure 4.27).

Figure 4.27. Crop properties can be revealed by clicking the disclosure triangle.


2.
Click the check box to the left of Crop to make your changes visible in the Canvas.

3.
Make changes in the four value fields for the number of pixels you want cropped from each side of the selected object.

✓ Tip

  • If you scale down video so that the edges are visible in the Canvas, it’s a good idea to crop one or two pixels from each edge to eliminate any artifacts.


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