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Cut Lines: Creating Dynamic Video Titles in Final Cut Studio, Part 2: Using Motion's 3D Space
Posted Nov 29, 2007 Print Version     Page 1of 1

Welcome to the last Cut Lines of 2007. I’m happy to close out the year with a tutorial explaining the practical use of Motion’s 3D space. To begin, I’ll assume you’ve never used Motion, but are familiar with FCP, LiveType, and DVD Studio Pro. This month’s tutorial builds on our work in the November edition of Cut Lines, which explained how to build a video intro in LiveType. Our goal this month is to take the title video clip we created last month, make three versions of it, design a background, bring them into Motion, and move between them in 3D space. We won’t use all of Motion’s capabilities here (not even close), but I hope this introduction will give you a nice place to start exploring Motion’s 3D space on your own. Keep last month’s Cut Lines close at hand when you’re working through this tutorial. We’ll be building on the same project.

Step 1: Create Multiple Versions
To begin, open the video title we created last month in LiveType. Move the Out point in the timeline to 15 seconds, and stretch the Cirrus background all the way to the Out point, eliminate the fade out, and save this project with the bride’s name as the filename.

Now we need to create our additional versions, which we’ll use to make the effect more dynamic and to create the 3D effect later on. For the first additional version, change the effect used to bring in the photos from the Cat Eyes we customized last month to a default Pin Glow effect, found in Effects > Glows. Then, change the title to "Bob & Jane’s Wedding," with "Bob & Jane’s" on one line, and "Wedding" on the second line. Next, change this title to the date and time of the wedding and Save As to a new project file called "Date."

Finally, change the text again to the location of the wedding, do another Save As, and name this third project file "Location." You may have to adjust text size and alignment depending on what you change the text to (Figure 1, below). Now, here’s a neat time-saving trick. Take the folder with your original six photos and rename them with the project name (bride’s last name), followed by a number, one through six. Duplicate that folder twice and rename it so you have three folders: [bride’s name] Name Stills, [bride’s name] Date Stills, [bride’s name] Location Stills. Then, in the Date and Location folders, place six new, different photos in each, using the same names; [bride’s name]1.jpg, [bride’s name]2.jpg, [bride’s name]3.jpg, etc. This way, when you make each of your new LiveType project files, you can right-click (or control-click, for those of you still stuck on a single-button mouse) on each photo in each track, select "Reconnect Media…," and point to the new photos. You should now have three copies of the video title, each with its own set of stills and its own text.

figure 1

Step 2: Set Clip Duration and Background

Next, start a new LiveType project (File > New). Pull up the Cirrus cloud background just like you did last month. Highlight the background by clicking on it once in the timeline. Then, in the Inspector, under the Timing tab, change Speed to 50%, and Loop to 10.

Next, set your Out Point to the end of this new background, and turn on background rendering by selecting Edit > Project Properties. Save this new project as "Cirrus." This is all you need from LiveType at this time. You can optionally save all four of your projects as QuickTime movies if you wish by selecting File > Render Movie, but all your LiveType project files will open in Motion, so it’s not really necessary.

Here comes the really fun part—launch Motion 3! (It must be Motion 3, as previous versions don’t support the 3D space we’ll be working in.) Don’t worry if you’ve never used Motion before; we’ll take this step by step, and it’s very easy. We’ll start with a new project file. Go to Edit > Project Properties and verify that you’re set to do a standard NTSC project.

In the bottom right of the Canvas window, type in 1:00 to set My Clip Duration to a full minute long, and make sure My Playhead is at the beginning of the clip. Then, on the left side of your screen, you’ll find the Browser window. Select the File Browser tab. From this tab, it’s easier to navigate to the folder where you saved your LiveType projects (Figure 2, below).

figure 1
Select your background, the Cirrus.ipr file, and drag it onto your Motion Canvas window. Once placed, if you don’t see the Layers window, press F5 to bring it up. Click once on this new layer called Cirrus and press F1 to bring up the Properties tab of the Inspector window. Change the Scale to 300%, and make sure your X, Y, Z, and Rotation coordinates are all at 0. This sets your background.

Step 3: Move to 3D Space
We’re now ready to start working in 3D space, so we have to make sure the Group our Layers are in a 3D-enabled group. To do so, click the Space icon in the Status column in the Layers window for the Group. Your project should now look like a three-layer stack rather than three panes side by side (Figure 3, below).

figure 1
Next, in the toolbar at the top of the screen, click on the New Camera icon. This adds a "camera" to the top of your Layers window. When you do this, new items appear on the Canvas. You can switch camera angles using the controls on the top left. Make sure you’re currently set for Active Camera.

Now it’s time to put in your first title pane. Just like before, go to the File Browser tab, navigate to the LiveType project files, and drag the Name file onto the Canvas window. Highlight it in the Layers window, and press F1 to bring up the Properties of this asset. Change the Scale to 75%.

Here’s where you’ll need to experiment a bit to get accustomed to Motion’s 3D space. Click the disclosure triangle next to Position in the Properties menu. This exposes X, Y, Z, and Rotation settings. You can click your mouse button on any of them (leave Rotation alone for this project), and drag left and right to move the asset around inside the Canvas. Here’s an exercise for you to do before moving on:

Click and drag left and right over the X and Y settings, and watch how the first title video asset moves. Next, in the Canvas window from the Camera View drop-down menu (upper left), set the view for Perspective. Then play with the X, Y, and now the Z settings. Be sure to not hide your asset behind the background! The Z setting is your 3D space, so to speak. It moves the asset forward and backward in the Canvas.

I’m placing mine in the lower left of the background, and far in front of the background Cirrus layer. Once you’ve got a feel for the controls, place yours where you think it looks best. Then with your selected asset’s layer highlighted, go to the Add Behavior menu in the toolbar, and apply Basic Motion > Fade In/Fade Out.

With the fade effect highlighted in the Layers window, go to the Behaviors tab of the Inspector and set Fade In Time to 40, and Fade Out Time to 60. Then, in the toolbar, select Add Filter > Border > Simple Border and set parameters as follows: border width, 10; color, blue (choose any blue swatch); and Mix, about 40%.

Step 4: Arrange Your Title Videos in 3D Space
Now it’s time to place your other two title videos. The object is to place the three title videos so that they’re arranged diagonally from bottom left to upper right, with each one a little behind the other in that order, as shown in Figure 4 (below).

figure 1
Once your title videos are placed and sized, you can highlight the Fade and the two borders from your first title video in the Layers window, copy them, and then paste them to each of our other two titles. Now the parameters are identical for all three videos. I won’t go into too much detail at this point; it is best that you spend time playing with the controls and getting a good feel for moving around in the 3D space. The important goal is to arrange your video titles in this order.

Step 5: Arrange Your Videos in the Timeline
Next, press F6 to pull up the Timeline window below the Canvas window. Space the Name title video about 3 seconds into the Timeline. Place the playhead at 3 seconds (see the TC field at the upper left), then drag the clip to start there. Drag the other two clips so that they slightly overlap. Your Timeline should look similar to Figure 5 (below).

figure 1
You’ll notice in Figure 5 (above) that I’ve placed a Fade In/Out filter and a Gaussian Blur filter on the Cirrus layer. I’ve set Fade in at 40 and Fade out at 120; the Gaussian Blur is keyframed so the blur amount hits 40 when the first title video comes into the frame and goes back to a blur amount of 0 again when the last title video backs away from the frame. You’ll see keyframing as we set our camera. I’ll leave the specifics of this blur keyframing up to you to explore on your own once we go through setting the camera keyframes.

Step 6: Set Camera Keyframes
With your title videos placed, your background set, and your Canvas in Active Camera mode, you’re ready to program the Camera keyframes. Start with the playhead at the beginning of the Timeline (F6). In the Layers window (F5), highlight the Camera layer, then press F1 to bring up its Properties. To the right of the Position control you’ll find a drop-down menu. It gives you options such as Reset Parameter, Add Keyframe, Next Keyframe, etc. Select Add Keyframe, then make sure all XYZ parameters are set to 0. The keyframe icons to the right of each parameter should become solid triangles, showing that keyframes have been set to the current position of the playhead. By using the Position keyframe control, you can add keyframes to all your XYZ parameters at once, rather than having to apply keyframes one at a time.

Now, move the playhead to just before the point when the first title video comes into the timeline, and again, add a keyframe to the Position setting. Then, move the playhead to just past the beginning of the first title video. At this point, add another keyframe, just as before, and then drag each of the X and Y parameters to move the Camera up and down, left and right, until it is framed directly on your first title video. Adjust the Z parameter so that you are zoomed out away from the title video. Move the playhead to the right a little bit more, set another keyframe, and move the Z parameter so that the title video is framed up nicely into your Canvas (Figure 6, below).

figure 1
Now, move the playhead to where the content of this video clip begins to fade and set another keyframe. Move a bit more to the right in the timeline, set another keyframe, and adjust the camera to the desired zoomed-out view of the next title video. This is the workflow to remember: Set a keyframe for where you start, then set a keyframe for the last point in the timeline to which you want to hold that camera position. Then move on to the next camera position, keyframe it, and set another keyframe to mark the end of the period in which that camera holds still; go to where the camera movement finishes, and keyframe that point, etc.

I’ll admit that some folks take to this 3D space easier than others, and some pick up on the tools quickly. If you haven’t worked in 3D space before, the editing paradigm will be new to you, so leave yourself some time to experiment with the controls and their effect on the motion paths of your assets as you come up with a finished set of camera keyframes.

Figure 6 (above) shows my Canvas and Timeline in Perspective mode with all of my camera keyframes in place. Notice the red lines showing the path of my Camera with the keyframes set. Don’t be afraid to switch view modes in the Canvas; just go slow, and visualize where you are in 3D space.

Once you’re satisfied with your keyframes, save your project (something, incidentally, that you should be doing often as you work). Use File > Export to render your video as a QuickTime file. You can then bring either this Motion project file or the QuickTime export into Final Cut Pro to add it to your editing project. You can add music and sound effects using Soundtrack Pro if you have additional audio work to do.

I hope this gives you a small taste of how you can use Motion’s 3D space capabilities to give otherwise static title videos more pizzazz. Motion isn’t learned overnight; in addition to following the steps and the basic explanations offered here, you’ll need to spend time exploring and experimenting with the program to really make it work for you.

You can view the final product I created in this tutorial at www.bbalser.com/public/EdvDec.mov. To learn Motion quickly, I highly recommend Ripple Training’s Motion 3 Fast Forward tutorial. Once you get a foothold in Motion, the possibilities really open up. Think of DVD menus you design in LiveType or Photoshop or FCP—could you bring them into Motion to create these 3D camera movements between them as transitions on the DVD? You bet! We’ll explore how to do that in the final segment of this three-part Cut Lines motion graphics tutorial in our January 2008 issue. Until then, happy editing!

Ben Balser is an Apple Certified Trainer based in New Orleans, Louisiana. He specializes in training and consulting, and also produces documentaries, educational material, and commercial work. Contact Ben with Final Cut Studio questions and he will try to address them in future tutorials.

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