A Basic Walkthrough of Motion

Starting a Motion tutorial, exploring the interface, project types, and its seamless Final Cut integration.

To begin our journey in learning Motion I decided to just do a simple walkthrough of Motion’s interface. Let’s get right into it.

Project Browser

First up we’ve got the project browser. This menu is where you’ll decide on the types of motion project you’d like to create. Before we get into the options it’s important to note that because Motion and Final Cut are tightly connected many projects you create will be published to Final Cut. Which means you’ll be able to change specific parameters in final cut without having to go to motion to make those changes. This is one of the biggest reasons why I love Motion and find it so powerful.

Your options are:

  • Motion Project: This is just a simple motion graphics project that you could use to make an animation or graphic title for not only final cut but also for premiere or resolve.
  • FC effect: This would be a project that would be sent to the effects pane. A notable example would be a security footage effect.
  • FC Generator: Is just a motion project that is sent to the generator tab in Final Cut. In the Apple’s support docs the classify a generator as a piece of content that “can be composited over a clip in the Final Cut Pro Timeline or added to the main timeline. The duration of the generator in Final Cut Pro is determined by its duration when created and saved in Motion.”
  • FC Transition: This is explanatory.
  • FC Title: This is also obvious.

This is where you’ll set your duration and size of the project. You can also open titles or generators you’ve got from third-parties or the built-in ones.

Library and Inspector

An awesome feature about Motion is that it comes with a lot of pre-installed assets. Ranging from particles (fire, smoke, leaves, etc.) to random elements like animated shapes.

These are fantastic tools to help you take your project to the next level without having to do much extra work. They might seem lame at first but as you mess with the settings and messing around with how to use them, you’ll be surprised what you can do.

The next part is the inspector. The inspector is where all the magic happens. There are four principal areas the properties tab, the behavior tab, the filter tab, and then a content specific tab (Could be for text or video etc.). We’ll be spending a lot of time here.

Layers Pane (Project Pane)

Next up we have what I like to call the layers pane, or what Apple calls the project pane. This is where you lay out your project. Imagine photoshop layers this is where you’ll create groups, see your effects and behaviors. Lock layers and turn off and on layers.

You also have a media and audio tab which is where you can locate and media that you’ve imported into your project.

Viewer (Canvas Pane)

The canvas pane or what I like to call the viewer is where you see your actual project. You can change the resolution, add rulers, change how you view your project, for example you may want to have the alpha channel shown with a specific color.


The timeline is where you’ll adjust the duration of elements, behaviors, and mess with the keyframes. We’ll be learning how to do lots of cool things in this area.

That’s it essentially the basics. Until next time.

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