Apple's Motion is now over 15 years old, so time to give FCPX's backbone companion app a little love. In the article below we take a look back, but the live chat will end up looking forward. Where is Motion going next? What features will the next Motion have and what would Motion benefit from getting. We discuss, live on YouTube!
It all started for us way back at NAB 2004 when motion graphic designers were not used to seeing anything work in real time. Then came that famous demo that made designers' jaws drop to the floor.
On a side note here, if the presenter looks familiar you would be right, it is Joseph Linaschke. You might know him better as PhotoJoseph from his excellent YouTube channel.
Interesting to note that from the NAB video, you might see the Discreet booth next to Apple's. This is of course when Apple did trade shows!
It was a decision from Discreet that led to Motion being born. Discreet (Now Autodesk) who you will know from their Flame and other compositing products, decided to move their Combustion engineers from warm Santa Monica to Montreal. They didn't want to go, so they swapped employer to Apple and started from scratch (no joke intended) building a new motion graphics tool.
It was good timing, Apple’s purchase of Shake wasn’t going too well, it was a high-level compositing app for feature films. Not so good for flying type rendered out to interlaced video. As Motion was being written from the ground up in Cocoa in Mac OS X, (The original FCP was written using the older Carbon frameworks) it could benefit from the advantages of the Unix architecture and OpenGL.
Nobody at that time was talking about the power of the GPU and that's exactly what Motion was designed to harness. Apple marketed the app being able to design in real time whilst the timeline played.
Shake didn't completely die though, certain technologies live on to this day inside the Pro Apps.
Motion also had new ways to control (ehem) motion. Instead of keyframes, the user could now build animations using movement behaviours such as Throw & Grow/Shrink, simulation behaviours such as Gravity and Drag and camera behaviours such as Dolly and Zoom. To name only a few!
Motion also hinted at the future of NLE design by showing a changing GUI based on what the operator required. When the work would get more complicated, the GUI would unfold to show more controls. It is now called 'Progressive Disclosure' and is one of the reasons why FCPX is very good at maximising screen real estate.
This was of course in the PowerPC era and Apple recommended at least a machine with 1.33GHz PowerPC G4 with 512MB of RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce FX Go5200 GPU. All of which you would have found in a PowerBook G4.
And so things continued until NAB 2007 when Motion 3 was announced. That contained the ability to position items in a 3D multiplane environment. Although not true 3D, this 'postcards in space' positioning feature changed the app overnight.
Motion 4 in 2009 bought along 3D lights, shadows, reflections and that gorgeous depth of field. Master Motion templates kicked off the third party race to build products for the masses.
Then it all went a bit quiet until June the 21st 2011 when it was relaunched with a dark GUI as Motion 5, the graphics companion app to Final Cut Pro X.
You could now make plugins for FCPX that were published directly into the effects, title, transition and generator browsers. The addition of rigging made the programming of changes within the plugin easy by grouping multiple parameters together.
In 2015 we saw Motion 5.2 released and soon we were all flying in 3D text on everything.
Then here's the problem.
Since then, apart form adding 360 video features and a few other additions and tweaks, there hasn't been any major new developments.
Has Motion's development slowed down to a crawl? (again no pun intended!) We all know there is a copy of Motion within FCPX, but is Motion's development being sacrificed for its larger host?
Join in with the live chat on YouTube and find out!