Simple answer was up until today, no. This late discovery unlocks yet more power in Motion for the building of plugins for Final Cut Pro X.
I’ve been using Apple’s Motion for a long time, tinkering even before it was officially born. So I’ve seen it grow from a layered 2D animation & text tool into a fully-fledged 3D motion graphics programs with lights, cameras and er, behaviors. More about those later.
When Motion 5 was released in June 2011, I too started to build plugins trying to get my head around the new rigging tools. It all seemed pretty easy, add a parameter, adjust the settings based on the rigs’ slider, button or pop-up and then publish. Job done, everything appears in FCPX.
But things can get complicated very quickly by building rigs and even rigging rigs. They don’t solve every solution either and they are certainly no replacement for using expressions where the only limit to what you can do is the depth of your algebra and logic knowledge. Past users of Shake are probably nodding reading this.
Just for some fond memories I had a scan through the now defunct Shake Cookbook. Worth a read for its ironic humour although that got corporately TippExed out in a later version. Just to prove the phrase ‘what goes around comes around’ the author of the book is now writing and selling FCPX plugins!
Back to today and I had a problem with a new plugin where I needed better overall control on a series of drop shadows.
A group of objects all had their drop shadow opacity controls rigged together and that rig was animated over time with keyframes. Or, put another way, the drop shadows only appear on the objects a certain way into the effect and dissappear before the end.
Good, but I wanted an ‘master control’ for the opacity. This would enable the opacity changes to happen at either end with the user being able to set the level of opacity the drop shadow achieved.
Think 0-50-50-0 and 0-75-75-0 in keyframe terms.
I thought to myself "What I really need to do is to be able to apply a custom behavior to the rig which would then control the overall opacity, no matter where the opacity of the rigged objects was."
So in a moment of wishful thinking (or ignorance for not reading the Motion manual from cover to cover on a regular basis) I tried dragging a custom behavior onto the rig.
It stuck, it worked, I felt as if I’d proved Fermat’s Last Theorem. It also gives me a loose excuse to get a nerdy Star Trek clip in!
Then I felt stupid. Why? Because I should have know about this trick a lot earlier. It opens up many new possibilities to build more exciting and ‘usable’ plugins and also to simplify many of the workarounds in Motion the average plugin writer has to deal with.
A quick check of the Motion manual and yes it does indeed document the possibility of rigs and behaviors, although you might miss the small paragraph if you tend to speed read like me. Doesn’t everybody have bits left after a weekend of un- flatpacking Ikea?
I’m sure there are many experts out there who will scoff at the late discovery of this Motion sorcery, but this technique is really quite powerful.
On further experimentation, you can add any of the Parameter behaviors. So if you wish to clamp, negate, ramp, randomise, oscillate or even wriggle a Rig, you can now do so with a couple of clicks.
Well, when I say ‘you can’ I really mean ‘I can’ as the feature has been there for over six years, I just didn’t know it!
Peter Wiggins is a broadcast freelance editor based in the UK although his work takes him around the world. An early adopter of FCP setting up pioneering broadcasts workflows, his weapon of choice is now Final Cut Pro X.