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Scaling Objects

When you import an object into Motion, it’s displayed at its native dimensions based on the number of horizontal and vertical pixels it contains. You can use the Scale parameter to increase or decrease the overall size of the object, or to stretch or squeeze the object by changing its aspect ratio (the relationship between the object’s height and width). You can also choose how the object scales—around a corner point, a side, or its anchor point.

To change the size of an object in the Canvas:

If necessary, choose the default Select/Transform mode.

The keyboard shortcut is Shift-S.

Do one of the following:

  • Click and drag one of the corner handles of the bounding box (Figure 4.15).

    Figure 4.15. To resize an object in the Canvas just drag one of the corner handles of the bounding box.

    The horizontal and vertical changes aren’t locked to each other, so you can change the aspect ratio of the object as you drag. If you want to lock the aspect ratio so that it doesn’t change, hold down the Shift key as you drag.

  • Click and drag one of the side handles of the bounding box.

    Dragging a side handle resizes the object in just one dimension—horizontally or vertically—depending on which handle you grab.

✓ Tips

  • By default objects scale with the handle opposite to the one you drag “pinned” to the Canvas, meaning that it scales around that opposing handle. To have your object scale around its anchor point rather than by the opposing handle, press Option while you drag. To have it scale proportionally and around its anchor point, hold Shift-Option as you drag.

  • Try to avoid scaling objects over 100 percent because the image can degrade, or pixelate. Use the Info box that appears when you drag as a guide. If the object isn’t large enough for your needs, see if you can re-create it or export it at a larger size (see the sidebar “Pixels and Resolution”).

  • Scaling below 0 percent flips the image so that it becomes a mirror image of itself (Figure 4.16).

    Figure 4.16. Scaling below 0 percent flips the object.

  • Vector-based objects such as ones created in Adobe Illustrator can be scaled over 100 percent with no loss in quality, but only if you first uncheck the Fixed Resolution check box in the Media tab of the Inspector. Select the object and press Shift-F to reveal the tab.

Pixels and Resolution

If you have a print background (or even if you print digital photos at home), you may be thinking about resolution when you’re importing graphics. For example, how many pixels per inch (ppi) or dots per inch (dpi) should you use?

Well, in video, there is no such thing as ppi or dpi, which simplifies things a bit. For instance, DV-NTSC video is 720 pixels wide by 480 pixels tall—no more, no less. So if you import a photograph that is less than 720 pixels wide or 480 pixels tall, it won’t fill up the screen unless you scale it over 100 percent, which, as I mentioned earlier, can create an unacceptable quality loss. And if you want to scale up a photo so you can zoom in on it or pan across it, you need even more pixels to start with.

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