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Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions

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Simon Ubsdell
Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 2, 2013 at 4:33:55 pm

Sincere apologies for hijacking this enthrallingly combative forum to talk about Motion yet again, but let's face it there's never going to be a "Motion or Not: The Debate Forum", at least not until Walter stops being wise and Aindreas stops being witty, so you can't blame me for trying to grab the opportunity for a bit more flag-waving. Hopefully it's not entirely irrelevant.

A week or so ago, in another thread that I also hijacked to talk about Motion, Walter asked me what I would like to see added to Motion and I flippantly responded that I would like to see three things, namely expressions, expressions and expressions.

On reflection, I realise this answer was just plain wrong - despite widespread perception to the contrary, Motion does have expressions built in, they're just not called expressions.

What they're actually called - and this may come as a surprise if you don't know Motion that well - is Behaviors.

Behaviors are really just expressions dressed up differently with a different kind of interface but functionally they are the same.

(So my answer to Walter should have been that I would like to see Behaviors extended just a bit to allow for some of the more recherche logical operators - all the basic operators that you would typically need on an everyday basis are already in place, it's just a question of knowing how to access them.)

Here's my argument:







Even if you already know all of this you may find some interesting tips that you hadn't thought of in the video (it's only about 7 minutes long). It's also got same interest as an example of how you can keep the timeline playing continuously throughout a session as you make complex parameter changes.

Again apologies if this is all incredibly obvious to you but there might be some who don't necessarily know all this.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 2, 2013 at 4:45:22 pm

Simon -

Correct me if I'm wrong here, but it appears to me from a quick read on behaviors in the Apple help files for Motion, that Behaviors are nothing more than parametric controls - much like the spinners in AE, which never really go "under the hood" the way Expressions do. In other words, there is customization via dials, and there is customization via math, and Expressions seem to go many steps further than Behaviors. The controls for Behaviors look like the spinner controls in any standard plugin - they may go further as far as customization goes, but there is no control language (like AppleScript) to give you the rewiring capabilities you get with Expressions. That said, Behaviors do look pretty powerful, and the average Motion user probably never needs to go further than that.

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 2, 2013 at 5:17:13 pm

[Joseph W. Bourke] "Correct me if I'm wrong here, but it appears to me from a quick read on behaviors in the Apple help files for Motion, that Behaviors are nothing more than parametric controls"

It's certainly true that Apple don't pitch them to the public that way, but that's a clear marketing decision based on not wanting to alienate the average user. You need to look a bit closer to understand what's really happening - and discover in practice what they are capable of. (In fact, every time I think I've got to the bottom of what Motion can do, I find that Apple have been cleverer than I ever imagined.) My video shows only a tiny fraction of what you can actually achieve ...

[Joseph W. Bourke] "The controls for Behaviors look like the spinner controls in any standard plugin - they may go further as far as customization goes, but there is no control language (like AppleScript) to give you the rewiring capabilities you get with Expressions."

There is no scripting language of course (and I don't think we'll ever see one), but ... in actual practice they function entirely as expressions do as I've tried to show. Yes, more limited in terms of the range of mathematical and logical operators available but still not fundamentally different in any meaningful sense.

Again, I think you are being misled by the apparent simplicity of the interface which is simply a different type of "front end" - an interface is just an interface, you need to look beyond that There is no question that you can do all the basic mathematical operations with Behaviors - at least the ones you would most often have the need to use.

But of course, you can do more with scripting, but how often does the average user on any average day write complex scripts? Maybe a lot more than I'm imagining, but then again maybe a lot fewer than you are imagining ... it's hard to quantify.

As I've said many times before, Motion is never (in its current state) going to fully satisfy the power user, but it's a very deceptive beast and there's a massive amount of sophistication there (cunningly and very deliberately disguised as simplicity) that most people never get to appreciate.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Oliver Peters
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 2, 2013 at 5:55:31 pm

Since this is an Adobe-centric forum, I'll couch this answer in the context of Motion as an alternative to AE. I think you are right with your comparison, but as much as I've tried to warm up to Motion, I really find the performance lacking compared with AE. With simple effects, the GPU power is nice, but you hit the wall more quickly than with AE. Add complex third-party filters and even parameter adjustment response is slower than AE.

OTOH, while I do see AE as the power user product, I have also seen some incredibly convoluted projects that some artists have created. Lots of power for them, but almost impossible for anyone else to decipher. In that sense, I appreciate the Motion approach. I just wish it were more responsive.

Ironically, it's easier to send a sequence to AE even from FCP X than it is to Motion.

Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Brett Sherman
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 2, 2013 at 6:15:18 pm

[Oliver Peters] "OTOH, while I do see AE as the power user product, I have also seen some incredibly convoluted projects that some artists have created. Lots of power for them, but almost impossible for anyone else to decipher."

This is because the timeline needs some serious restructuring in AE. Having hundreds of layers makes life extremely difficult for everyone, including the artists with the convoluted projects. As powerful as AE is, it's also surprising how the development of the interface has basically been stalled for over a decade.

To me this belies the notion that Adobe will rapidly improve their products with CC. They are more incrementalist in nature. Some people like that, I don't. Of course, like you say, Motion isn't a replacement for AE at this point.



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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 2, 2013 at 7:03:00 pm

My opinions about Motion are based only upon reading the help files which come with Motion, and my hands-on experience, which is based on providing graphics packages to a cable news organization, who happen to still be using FCP7 and Motion 4 (I think). Aside from the ability to create templates, which was how I had planned to set up the on-air look for their editors, there was serious trouble with getting Photoshop graphics imported as layers. Sometimes it worked - most of the time it failed. I tried CS4 layered PSDs, which worked sometimes, and CS5.5 layered PSDs mostly didn't work. I tried 8-bit, 16-bit, and finally had to break all of my layers out as .png files and deliver them piecemeal to the client, which worked, but was a royal pain in the assets, and a real time killer. I would love to see the basic stuff work in Motion, rather than the power user stuff. It just seemed pretty unpredictable, even to the guys who worked with Motion daily.

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 2, 2013 at 7:05:26 pm

[Joseph W. Bourke] "there was serious trouble with getting Photoshop graphics imported as layers. Sometimes it worked - most of the time it failed."

Never had this problem in any way shape or form and I do this all the time.

Curious.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Sandeep Sajeev
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 2, 2013 at 7:14:01 pm

The whole 'drag and hold' method of importing layered PSD's threw me in the beginning. But they've always come through, once I knew that this how it worked.

I've submitted an enhancement request, asking that this be accomplished with a modifier as well, so for example Option clicking import lets me choose which layers to bring it, and Shift clicking brings it in with all the Layers.

But I'm really enjoying working with Motion again.


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 2, 2013 at 7:17:56 pm

[Sandeep Sajeev] "The who.e 'drag and hold' method of importing layered PSD's threw me in the beginning. But they've always come through, once I knew that this how it worked."

Absolutely agree - it's a daft way of doing it, but it works. And of course you can select or reselect any layer at any time from the layer menu.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Sandeep Sajeev
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 2, 2013 at 7:25:08 pm

The thing is that there are so many cool implementations of the the click and drag methodology inside Motion - I LOVE the way you can just drag Color swatches from the little boxes, without opening up the Color Selector.

Btw, I agree with you re:Behaviours as Expressions - the ability to select specific parameters, and affect them in very controlled ways - overseen by Keyframes - while different, is just as powerful. But as you say, you have to really dig down into the software to get this...


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 2, 2013 at 7:36:08 pm

[Sandeep Sajeev] "Btw, I agree with you re:Behaviours as Expressions - the ability to select specific parameters, and affect them in very controlled ways - overseen by Keyframes - while different, is just as powerful. But as you say, you have to really dig down into the software to get this..."

Great to hear you're rediscovering your Motion mojo!

As you say, you do have to dig a bit deeper than the surface. And the surface is very confusing to those who don't bother diving in - it looks like something it's not.

But then Apple have deliberately designed it that way so as not to frighten the horses! In doing so perhaps they've been too cunning for their own good.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Charlie Austin
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 3, 2013 at 1:23:04 am

[Simon Ubsdell] "As you say, you do have to dig a bit deeper than the surface. And the surface is very confusing to those who don't bother diving in - it looks like something it's not.

But then Apple have deliberately designed it that way so as not to frighten the horses! In doing so perhaps they've been too cunning for their own good."


That perfectly describes another video app that Apple released a couple of years ago. ;-)

-------------------------------------------------------------


~"It is a poor craftsman who blames his tools."~
~"The function you just attempted is not yet implemented"~


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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 2, 2013 at 8:28:02 pm

So it's indeed possible that the recurring "problem" with the PSD imports was on the client end. While they use Motion and FCP7 daily, I wouldn't classify them as power users. I was never there when the problems occurred, I just had to continue submitting more formats for them to try. I sent them to tutorials online, and, as stated above, sent many varying formats, none of which worked for them. My guess is user error. Thanks for that info - I'm going to be submitted files for a conversion from SD to HD soon, so this may prove to be helpful, and I may have to sit down at Motion and do it myself.

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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Sandeep Sajeev
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 2, 2013 at 8:37:35 pm

Joseph, just to clarify - what I suggested above is not currently implemented inside Motion. Currently if you want to bring in Layered PSD's you need to drag them into the Layers Palette and hold, this brings up an overlay box which lets you choose how you want to bring the layers in.

Best,
Sandeep.


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Rob McGreevy
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 2, 2013 at 11:58:15 pm

I'm sure you know this, but in Motion 5 you can import layer files by using the import command under the file menu and you still get the option to select all layers, merged layers or individual layers. It would be nice if you could select more than one individual layer though. I usually just import all the layers and then delete the ones I don't need. Motion 5 also recognizes folders from Photoshop as well I believe which is convenient as well


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 3, 2013 at 10:11:53 am

[Rob McGreevy] "I'm sure you know this, but in Motion 5 you can import layer files by using the import command under the file menu and you still get the option to select all layers, merged layers or individual layers. It would be nice if you could select more than one individual layer though. I usually just import all the layers and then delete the ones I don't need. Motion 5 also recognizes folders from Photoshop as well I believe which is convenient as well"

Great tip - I hadn't spotted that. Very useful, thanks.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 2, 2013 at 7:14:48 pm

[Oliver Peters] "Since this is an Adobe-centric forum, I'll couch this answer in the context of Motion as an alternative to AE. I think you are right with your comparison, but as much as I've tried to warm up to Motion, I really find the performance lacking compared with AE."

Since I'm clearly not in the same league as you guys when it comes to the complexity of the motion graphics work I need to do day in and day out, all I can say is that for me Motion delivers much faster results than comparable applications almost all the time, which is why I tend to use it more frequently for mograph than anything else. (Complex compositing is a different story, but then I don't tend to gravitate to Adobe-centric products for that either though I know they have their vocal enthusiasts in this regard.)

I guess what I'm saying is that at my humble level, where all I'm interested in is how fast I can do a job rather than how complex I can make it, it does a decent enough job ...

What can I say, I'm a hack ;-)

Oh, and to reiterate the original point, since this was never meant to be a contest with Adobe fans, though it's instantly turned into one as always, if you're looking for expressions in Motion, you have them with Behaviors - albeit with some limitations.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 3, 2013 at 9:33:41 am

[Oliver Peters] "Since this is an Adobe-centric forum, I'll couch this answer in the context of Motion as an alternative to AE. I think you are right with your comparison, but as much as I've tried to warm up to Motion, I really find the performance lacking compared with AE."

I would agree with you about some third party filters (without naming any names) which definitely don't give satisfactory performance inside Motion - it is an issue. But this isn't entirely valid as a reason to knock Motion's overall performance capabilities.

As to the overall performance question, here's a test project I started on last year in Motion 5 to try out some techniques and ideas:







It uses around 150 layers (more if you were to do Ae style counting), the majority of them animated, which I would have thought is a reasonable level of complexity. Real-time playback did start to slow a bit (hardly surprising, I think) but the project is still very workable and it would have been easy to keep building greater complexity without hitting the buffers as far as I can remember it.

I didn't do anything particular to try and optimise performance and I'm sure I could have gone through and tidied up some of the processes to make it even easier to work with.

OK, so it's not great design (just a bit of noodling around really) but it's surely something of a counter to the argument that Motion isn't capable of layer heavy composites.

It would be good if Apple built in some more aggressive tools for optimising performance under extreme loads, RAM preview is just not good at all (though the fact is you just don't need it most of the time), and there are some other more technical performance issues I would very much like to see addressed, but I'm not sure I buy the idea that there are significant performance limitations for the general run of projects.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Oliver Peters
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 3, 2013 at 12:45:12 pm

Simon,

That's a nice test. By plug-ins, I mean Sapphire, Boris, FxFactory Pro, DFT, MB Looks, etc. All of these respond noticeably better in AE and Premiere Pro than they do in FCP X or Motion.

My main complaint with Motion is the lack of adaptive resolution switching that AE has. When I work in AE, it's sometimes with several layers of video. For example 8 PIPs over a background with graphics on top and 1 or 2 adjustment layers above. Most of it 720 or 1080. If I have that many layers, they may be set up as 3D layers for DVE moves.

So if I build a composite with 8 video layers plus the other items, I can reasonably quickly scrub through the composite. Resolution is throttled lower while I scrub and then quickly updated on pause. Motion has nothing like this. Even when I set the settings to the lowest quality, scrubbing performance is still very poor. Even in pause, the response of the system to parameter adjustments is not good. So I find Motion to be limiting, once you work with layers of video, as opposed to layers of stills or graphics or generators.

Of course, this is with the caveat that I'm on a MacPro and not an iMac.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 3, 2013 at 1:40:18 pm

[Oliver Peters] "By plug-ins, I mean Sapphire, Boris, FxFactory Pro, DFT, MB Looks, etc. All of these respond noticeably better in AE and Premiere Pro than they do in FCP X or Motion.
"


Yes, there is a problem with these - I hope it's something Apple is addressing.


[Oliver Peters] "My main complaint with Motion is the lack of adaptive resolution switching that AE has. When I work in AE, it's sometimes with several layers of video. For example 8 PIPs over a background with graphics on top and 1 or 2 adjustment layers above. Most of it 720 or 1080. If I have that many layers, they may be set up as 3D layers for DVE moves.

So if I build a composite with 8 video layers plus the other items, I can reasonably quickly scrub through the composite. Resolution is throttled lower while I scrub and then quickly updated on pause. Motion has nothing like this. Even when I set the settings to the lowest quality, scrubbing performance is still very poor. Even in pause, the response of the system to parameter adjustments is not good. So I find Motion to be limiting, once you work with layers of video, as opposed to layers of stills or graphics or generators.

Of course, this is with the caveat that I'm on a MacPro and not an iMac."


Now that's curious. Just for the fun of it, I've just set up a 1080 project with 16 layers of 1080 ProRes video and six Photoshop layers plus a few filters thrown on to try and get it to slow down.

On my ageing MacPro (with 16GB RAM) I'm getting smooth real-time playback and no difficulty at all scrubbing through. At 26 layers the real-time slows a bit but still no difficulty with scrubbing.

I absolutely agree that it would be nice to have better/more means of throttling back to as the lowest quality isn't really low enough in some cases. But maybe your experience is untypical? Always hard to gauge and compare these things with any real accuracy unless one sets up stringent set of test parameters of course.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Oliver Peters
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 3, 2013 at 1:46:27 pm

In your layer test, are you applying filters or doing any XYZ rotation to these layers? Or just straight 2D PIP? I can retest, but it will be the end of the week before I'm in front of Motion again.

Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 3, 2013 at 1:58:47 pm

[Oliver Peters] "In your layer test, are you applying filters or doing any XYZ rotation to these layers? Or just straight 2D PIP? I can retest, but it will be the end of the week before I'm in front of Motion again."

Had another look at this and make sure each layer had a rotation as well as scaling and I've thrown a lot more filters in. I'm actually still getting very close to real-time playback - about 27fps. Better performance actually than before because I had to do a system restart because of some other issue which obviously cleared out the RAM.

Of course, I know there are some filters that I could apply that would kill the whole thing stone dead and I haven't used those ...

Oh and I forgot to add that I upped the number of video layers to 36 to make it a bit harder.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Oliver Peters
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 3, 2013 at 2:47:43 pm

Thanks. I'll check my machine again on the weekend. Could have been the filters I was using.

Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 4, 2013 at 8:44:21 pm

[Oliver Peters] "Thanks. I'll check my machine again on the weekend. Could have been the filters I was using."

I'd be interested to hear what results you arrive at if you get a chance to do any tests.

I've just run a comparison of the exact same 4 second comp in Motion and Ae - 1080p at 29.97fps, five video layers, no filters, top video is screened over the other four which all reduced to 44% scale and laid out evenly. Both projects were set to 32 bit float since Motion 5 only operates this way.

In Ae I was experiencing some distinct stickiness moving up and down the timeline (perfectly liveable with but far from completely smooth), none at all in Motion where I was getting nice smooth real-time playback.

The bit I found surprising was the difference in render times - in this utterly unscientific test.

H.264 took 6 seconds out of Motion against 2 minutes 47 seconds seconds out of Ae.

ProRes took 4 minutes 17 seconds seconds out of Ae to 4 seconds out of Motion.

10bit Uncompressed took 5 seconds out of Motion and 2 minutes 45 seconds out of Ae.

I wasn't expecting that at all not ever having run a head-to-head test before - I'd always assumed I'd get much quicker renders out of Ae ...

Maybe an issue with my Ae installation and/or hardware and obviously not a scientific test (way too many imponderable variables) but curious result all the same. (I was getting much, much better times from Ae when set to 8bit but still not as good as Motion even then.)

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 4, 2013 at 8:53:51 pm

[Simon Ubsdell] "I wasn't expecting that at all not ever having run a head-to-head test before - I'd always assumed I'd get much quicker renders out of Ae ...
"


An update to this as I thought I'd try an OpenEXR render:

Motion: 1 minute 28 seconds*
Ae: 3 minutes 29 seconds

*Much slower than I usually get for OpenEXR out of Motion but probably needed a restart to free up some RAM after the rest of the tests.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Sandeep Sajeev
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 4, 2013 at 9:10:13 pm

I've found the same - it is balls out fast getting things out of Motion.

And I personally prefer how it handles real time playback to AE. I'm working on something that's using particles and video replicators in 3D and I can make adjustments on the fly, no issues. And actually see things properly at Draft Quality, unlike the mess that is 1/4 res in AE.

Smoke doesn't even do Low Res Previews - and that's a 4k package.

And just to give props to something that doesn't get mentioned a lot - the massive amount of user modifiable supplemental content that's bundled with Motion is insane.

Simon, I owe you a beer for making me take another look at Motion!

EDIT: I'm running Motion 5 on a mid 2010 iMac with 16GB RAM. OS is 10.8.3


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 4, 2013 at 9:23:59 pm

[Sandeep Sajeev] "I've found the same - it is balls out fast getting things out of Motion. "

I guess I've found myself using Ae less and less so I was very surprised by this result and assumed it was system/operator error that was causing the discrepancy. I've become so used to virtually instant renders out of Motion that watching the Ae renders crawl through was a bit of a shock.

[Sandeep Sajeev] "And I personally prefer how it handles real time playback to AE. I'm working on something that's using particles and video replicators in 3D and I can make adjustments on the fly, no issues. And actually see thing properly at Draft Quality, unlike the mess that is 1/4 res in AE."

I tend to agree with you - I really hate looking at 1/4 res as I just can't get a feel for how it's coming together and I don't want to be continually running previews to try and see where I'm at. But I think Motion has made me lazy in that way especially in wanting to see everything updating on the fly.

[Sandeep Sajeev] "EDIT: I'm running Motion 5 on a mid 2010 iMac with 16GB RAM. OS is 10.8.3"

I've only tinkered with Motion on a latest gen iMac but I was stunned with how much quicker it is than on my increasingly decrepit-feeling MacPro.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Oliver Peters
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 7, 2013 at 4:30:45 pm

Hi Simon,

I had a chance to run a test. I took 6 ProResLT 1080p/23.98 clips and put them on a :10 timeline. Clips were scaled to 25%, spread around the screen in an irregular pattern and rotated on the Z axis. I applied a native (not third party) filter to each clip. These included glow, bulge distortion, gaussian blur, sepia, posterization and bad TV. I did a test this way and also with the whole group rotated in XYZ as a flat plane. I did this on the Group in Motion and using a null layer in AE.

I saw the same things you saw in terms of scrubbing through the timeline. Motion was more or less real-time. It got a bit choppier with the XYZ rotation. Interestingly, Motion would get choppier when the playback looped back to the start of the sequence and then played a second or third time. I rendered out to ProRes with and without the rotation of the whole, but that did not affect render times.

Plain vanilla renders. No lighting, motion blur or reflection effects. Render results were about :10 for Motion and 6 min. for After Effects.

Looks like I be working harder at liking Motion ;-)

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 7, 2013 at 4:37:00 pm

[Oliver Peters] "Plain vanilla renders. No lighting, motion blur or reflection effects. Render results were about :10 for Motion and 6 min. for After Effects.

Looks like I be working harder at liking Motion ;-)"


Hi Oliver

Thanks for doing the test and sharing the results - I really appreciate you taking the time to do the evaluation.

It does seem that Ae has a long way to go to catch up in terms of render speeds. Maybe lightning fast renders will be the lure that brings all the CC swing voters flocking to the next version ;-)

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Oliver Peters' Render test
on Jun 7, 2013 at 5:09:25 pm

[Simon Ubsdell] "Thanks for doing the test and sharing the results - I really appreciate you taking the time to do the evaluation."

I have to say I was surprised by your results so I had a look at doing the exact same thing - of course you set up the test in such a way that it was easy to reduplicate in both Ae and Motion which was a big help.

I got results of about 6-7 seconds out of Motion as against 4 minutes 54 seconds out of Ae.

That does look more or less exactly the same as the results you got if you allow for the fact that my MacPro is rendering faster on both platforms. I was also getting entirely smooth full frame rate playback out of Motion unlike you.

It's still a massive ratio whichever way you look at it.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Oliver Peters
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Oliver Peters' Render test
on Jun 7, 2013 at 5:18:52 pm

[Simon Ubsdell] "That does look more or less exactly the same as the results you got if you allow for the fact that my MacPro is rendering faster on both platforms. I was also getting entirely smooth full frame rate playback out of Motion unlike you. "

Agreed. We are getting relatively consistent results, given some variances in machines, media, filters or settings. We are both seeing a huge render difference. My guess is that Motion is better optimized for the GPU. I'm running an ATI 5870 card, which would likely favor Motion. OTOH, I doubt you'd see anything like this speed in AE even with an optimized card.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Oliver Peters' Render test
on Jun 7, 2013 at 5:23:44 pm

[Oliver Peters] " I'm running an ATI 5870 card, which would likely favor Motion."

For the record my graphics card is the same as yours - there's no doubt that Motion gets the best out of the GPU. (I wish the same could be same of FCP X but that's a different story!)

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Oliver Peters
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Oliver Peters' Render test
on Jun 7, 2013 at 7:18:51 pm

Here's another little test. This time with non-native plug-ins. Same media (1080p/23.98 ProResLT). Place 5 clips on a 10 sec timeline. Reduce scale on all clips to 50% and build a quad split with 1-4 and then put clip 5 on top, centered.

Test 1 - add only FxFactory Pro filters (one per clip): analog TV, comic book, light rays, LED lights, night vision.

Test 2 - add only Magic Bullet Looks (one instance per clip): presets - Miami, Mexicali, Bronze Aggressive, Blockbuster, Crime Scene Alternate.

Motion played Test 1 at about 10-12fps. It played Test 2 at about 1fps. AE is n/a, of course.

Render to ProRes.

Test 1 / Motion - 20 sec. ; AE - 1:50
Test 2 / Motion - 2 min, ; AE - 2:50

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Oliver Peters' Render test
on Jun 7, 2013 at 7:35:34 pm

[Oliver Peters] "Test 1 - add only FxFactory Pro filters (one per clip): analog TV, comic book, light rays, LED lights, night vision.

Test 2 - add only Magic Bullet Looks (one instance per clip): presets - Miami, Mexicali, Bronze Aggressive, Blockbuster, Crime Scene Alternate."


Very interesting and a useful corrective.

As you've pointed out before quite rightly, Motion is really not good with third party plug-ins and Magic Bullet especially has a lot of work to do to try and make a viable product - or rather they have a lot of persuading to do to get Apple to help them make a viable product.

As someone who develops for FxFactory, I probably shouldn't say any more - in fact, I've probably already said too much ;-)

All that said, yet again Ae comes out the worse even when the odds are stacked against Motion, though clearly in this case by a much smaller margin.

Many thanks again for looking into this - I'm pretty sure this discrepancy in render capability is not very widely known.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Sandeep Sajeev
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Oliver Peters' Render test
on Jun 8, 2013 at 2:43:20 pm

Oliver,

Please consider putting up a blog post on your updated impression of Motion. It really would help get some of the positives (and negatives) in using the program out to a much larger audience.

I can honestly say that without Simon's strong thumbs up on this forum I wouldn't have given it a second look. And it's made a significant difference to the way I handle motion graphics in editorial. I do think a lot of others can benefit from taking another look at Motion.

Best,
Sandeep.


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Oliver Peters
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Oliver Peters' Render test
on Jun 9, 2013 at 1:48:51 am

[Sandeep Sajeev] "Please consider putting up a blog post on your updated impression of Motion. It really would help get some of the positives (and negatives) in using the program out to a much larger audience."

Agreed. In a few weeks, maybe.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Kevin Monahan
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Oliver Peters' Render test
on Jun 8, 2013 at 6:11:52 pm

Hi Oliver,
See my post about the global performance cache. Thing have changed radically in After Effects CS6 and now with After Effects CC, and I did not see you mentioning it.

http://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/378/2870

Cheers,
Kevin

Kevin Monahan
Social Support Lead
Adobe After Effects
Adobe Premiere Pro
Adobe Systems, Inc.
Follow Me on Twitter!


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Oliver Peters
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Oliver Peters' Render test
on Jun 9, 2013 at 1:47:45 am

[Kevin Monahan] "See my post about the global performance cache. Thing have changed radically in After Effects CS6 and now with After Effects CC, and I did not see you mentioning it"

You are correct, I did not use it, because it is not applicable in this comparison. Since you have to do a RAM preview initially for the cache to help you, it kind of defeats the point of comparing one direct render to another. Essentially it would be cheating the test because you have "pre-rendered" the comp.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Shawn Miller
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 3, 2013 at 6:50:21 pm

[Simon Ubsdell] "
Behaviors are really just expressions dressed up differently with a different kind of interface but functionally they are the same."


Hi Simon,

Nice tutorial. I think you've done a good job of demonstrating the power of behaviors, and I think you are correct that the vast majority editors will probably never need more than the ones supplied with the software. I do have a bit of a disagreement with you though. Expressions and behaviors are not functionally the same thing. Behaviors are (under the hood) scripts with a UI, that's true. The big difference though, is that behaviors are a locked box (no access to the code underneath) and AE expressions are based on an open, documented scripting language. You can create, alter and package expressions, but behaviors can only be used as is. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Again, nice tutorial.

Shawn



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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 3, 2013 at 7:27:44 pm

[Shawn Miller] "Expressions and behaviors are not functionally the same thing. Behaviors are (under the hood) scripts with a UI, that's true. The big difference though, is that behaviors are a locked box (no access to the code underneath) and AE expressions are based on an open, documented scripting language. You can create, alter and package expressions, but behaviors can only be used as is. Please correct me if I'm wrong."

Hi Shawn

Thanks for watching the video.

I'd agree and disagree with the points you make ;-)

I think functionally expressions and Behaviors are literally (not metaphorically) the same thing - as you yourself say, it's about what's happening under the hood and at that level it's identical in function and operation.

On the other hand, you are quite right to a large degree that that Behaviors are not "open" - which is a significant limitation.

But then again, to disagree with you once more, Behaviors don't have to be used "as Is" - at least not the Parameter Behaviors which are the ones I was trying to showcase in the video. They are partially, or almost completely, "open" in the sense that you can input most of the essential variables that you would like to be able to influence.

Overall, I would summarise that the difference is one of degree rather than one of kind - the two things are fundamentally the same in that they enact the same types of function in ways that are identical at the base level (hidden behind the UI), they differ only (?) in the amount that you interact with them. Obviously in cases where you have access to scripting the amount that you can interact is basically limitless ... which is clearly a massive point in favour of scripting!

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Shawn Miller
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 3, 2013 at 9:19:08 pm

Hey Simon,

[Simon Ubsdell] "
I'd agree and disagree with the points you make ;-)"


lol - I don't know if I've ever both agreed and disagreed with anyone so much in my life. :-)

[Simon Ubsdell] "But then again, to disagree with you once more, Behaviors don't have to be used "as Is" - at least not the Parameter Behaviors which are the ones I was trying to showcase in the video."

What I meant by "as is", is that you only have access to the parameters given within a behavior. It looks like you get quite a few inputs within the parametric behaviors that you demonstrated, but you can't add you own inputs or expand functionality. Behaviors seem to be like preset expressions that you can't alter (or create). Thinking about it, I'm now even more confused as to why Apple didn't just expose the code underneath behaviors and make it's scripting library public... seems like a no brainier, right? I mean, why not keep the behavior library as is, but also allow for custom scripting?

Shawn



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Aindreas Gallagher
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 3, 2013 at 7:44:44 pm

Ubsdell! Am I listening to your dulcet tones? Great demo - also there are veritable rabbit holes of complexity and sophistication there, you're quite right too.

http://vimeo.com/user1590967/videos http://www.ogallchoir.net promo producer/editor.grading/motion graphics


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 3, 2013 at 7:59:56 pm

[Aindreas Gallagher] "Ubsdell! Am I listening to your dulcet tones?"

No, that's not me, that's a synthetic voice I have created in my lab just to fool people.

Welcome to the rabbit hole - remember to take the blue pill ... or is it the red one? Can never get that right ...

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Matt Galuszewski
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 3, 2013 at 9:27:52 pm

Behaviors added to behaviors get very complex



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Walter Soyka
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 5, 2013 at 2:07:19 pm

Fantastic post, Simon. Many apologies for my belated reply.

I'd suggest that an expression is stateless programmatic control over a property in an animation system at a given point in time -- and I agree with you, behaviors are certainly a kind of expression system. In fact, a lot of the Ae expressions I write are duplicative of Motion behaviors!

Like Shawn, though, I'd argue that behaviors are a bit different than traditional code-based expressions like in Ae. I think they're higher level, more abstract. If what you need comes in the box, great, but if not, you can't roll your own because you can't get that low.

Behaviors certainly have the advantage of speed, at least early on, but at the cost of some kind of capability/flexibility. You could set up a system of Motion behaviors in a fraction of the time it would take me to write the equivalent expressions in Ae, but I'd win as we moved to more complex interactions. This goes to my "high floor, low ceiling" description of Motion in cases like this, and it's one of the reasons I generally prefer After Effects. I often choose to give up Motion's "rapid prototyping" because I'm afraid of bumping my head on the ceiling when I get to something that becomes too hard to do or too hard to manage in Motion.

I don't mean this as a criticism of Motion. That high floor is a good thing. I was an early adopter of Motion and I definitely think it's a capable solution. It can be very fast and interactive in a way that Ae cannot.

Now, the following is meant as a (constructive) criticism of Motion. Going beyond the recherche logical operators -- and Simon, please correct me if I'm wrong here -- Motion lacks control flow (conditionals and loops), math libraries, string manipulation tools, and an awareness of keyframes (not just underlying values) that I often use in my expressions. Behaviors on behaviors is very powerful, but also possibly confusing and poorly-visualized in the application.

Ae is good, but still far from perfect here. Ae expressions require a bit of geekery to master, like in Motion they are easily lost in the interface, evaluation is slow, image sampling is slower still, and an interactive debugger for expressions would be immensely useful.

Beyond that, expressions in general can be somewhat limiting. All expression systems are stateless -- meaning they are calculated anew for each rendered frame, independent from and unaware of previous calculations. I'd like for animation systems to add some kind of multipass-capable stateful calculation system, in which each frame could build upon what has come before (and via multipass, what will come in the future) without having to calculate the entire history of states on each frame. But I digress...

What's sad is that Apple already has a fantastic expression solution that they could integrate into Motion: Quartz Composer. QC is an amazing system. Node-based "visual programming" would be right at home in Motion. It'd be vastly more intuitive for non-programmers than including some kind of scripting language, and it would be vastly easier to follow than the complex. CINEMA 4D's Xpresso system is a good example of such a system in action that integrates a nodal expression system in an otherwise non-nodal app.

I'd also suggest the addition of a "JavaScript behavior" or a "Python behavior." It would be a behavior with a custom UI for adding input properties and entering code. On the input side, you could add input properties and link them back to regular properties elsewhere in your comp. On the output side, it would offer back in the main UI a read-only property representing the output of the main() function. Other behaviors could link against this property. I think this would be a good way to add a lot of functionality to Motion within the context of the application.

Overall, I'd like to see data elevated a bit in all our applications. Our data-manipulation toolsets should be as expansive and accessible as our image-manipulation toolsets. I've been noodling a bit with Houdini, and it's procedural bias is a really, really clever. On the downside, it has a very steep learning curve.

If Motion could continue adding layers of complexity without undermining its primary benefits (ease of learning, ease of use, interactivity), I might feel better about using it more again.

Thanks for some great conversation, Simon.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 5, 2013 at 3:12:47 pm

hi Walter

Great response - i was hoping you'd chime in and give us the benefit of your immense depth of knowledge in this area. I really liked your overview of where expressions might be able to go - need to read that all again properly but some great insights there.

Just a few quick comments as I'm in the middle of a job ...

[Walter Soyka] "Like Shawn, though, I'd argue that behaviors are a bit different than traditional code-based expressions like in Ae. I think they're higher level, more abstract. If what you need comes in the box, great, but if not, you can't roll your own because you can't get that low."

Not quite accurate, and this was the point I was trying to make: there are Behaviors that are pretty much fully locked in, but the Parameter Behaviors are much more "open" and aspire to the condition to expressions as a result. Randomize, Wriggle (see what they did with the name there??!!), Oscillate - these are all functions/operations in a real and obvious sense. And the Link Behavior isn't really a Behavior at all until you start making expression type connections with it.

I suppose we're arguing semantics but I think there's something to the argument.

[Walter Soyka] "What's sad is that Apple already has a fantastic expression solution that they could integrate into Motion: Quartz Composer. QC is an amazing system. Node-based "visual programming" would be right at home in Motion. It'd be vastly more intuitive for non-programmers than including some kind of scripting language, and it would be vastly easier to follow than the complex. CINEMA 4D's Xpresso system is a good example of such a system in action that integrates a nodal expression system in an otherwise non-nodal app."

Haha - yes, indeed. The job I'm interrupting to post is actually starting life in Quartz and it's a fantastic environment precisely because of what you can do with expressions (not to mention Core Image Filters and GLSL Shaders). It would be great to see a closer integration with Motion as it would open up an amazing world of possibilities.

Two things don't favour that happening.

The first is that QC is almost certainly not long for this world, even if the panic started on the quartzcomposer-dev-request@lists recently by one of the Apple folk was possibly not the end of the line that it was immediately perceived as being by the rest of the folks on the list.

The second point is that QC and Motion have never talked to each other that happily despite the best efforts of third parties to forge a decent marriage. I recently had to abandon a major FCP X plug-in project when FCP X 10.0.8 and Motion 5.0.7 between them completely broke the thing.

I'm rambling.

Thanks very much for the conversation. More anon I hope.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Walter Soyka
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 5, 2013 at 3:46:50 pm

[Simon Ubsdell] "Great response - i was hoping you'd chime in and give us the benefit of your immense depth of knowledge in this area. I really liked your overview of where expressions might be able to go - need to read that all again properly but some great insights there."

Thank you kindly.

If you're game, I'd love to discuss some of that in some more depth when you have the time. There are some good feature requests in there that I have not yet written, and maybe some more conversation there can help me clarify my thinking. Once we're done, I'll send mind on to Adobe and you can send yours on to Apple :)


[Simon Ubsdell] "Not quite accurate, and this was the point I was trying to make: there are Behaviors that are pretty much fully locked in, but the Parameter Behaviors are much more "open" and aspire to the condition to expressions as a result. Randomize, Wriggle (see what they did with the name there??!!), Oscillate - these are all functions/operations in a real and obvious sense. And the Link Behavior isn't really a Behavior at all until you start making expression type connections with it. I suppose we're arguing semantics but I think there's something to the argument."

No doubt, parameter behaviors linked and layered on regular behaviors can be incredibly expressive. (See what I did there?)

But with a richer expression language, you can do things like easing equations that work in tandem with keyframes, procedurally generated motion paths, properties that are conditional on multiple inputs, etc.

You can do an awful lot with the behaviors that Motion provides, but you can build tools from scratch with expressions.


[Simon Ubsdell] "It would be great to see a closer integration with Motion as it would open up an amazing world of possibilities. Two things don't favour that happening..."

It's funny, I hadn't even considered that. I was thinking about boosting the QC interface and repurposing it as Motion's expression interface. Actually integrating QC and Motion would be vastly cooler. Too bad the prospects sound grim.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 5, 2013 at 8:47:37 pm

[Walter Soyka] "procedurally generated motion paths"

That sounded like so much fun that I just had to try making one - in Motion ;-)

And it worked ... very complex and interesting it is too and I can happily keep adding complexity. Maybe "procedural" is slightly too wide a term in this instance which is what allowed me to mess with your distinction.

[Walter Soyka] "But with a richer expression language, you can do things like easing equations that work in tandem with keyframes, procedurally generated motion paths, properties that are conditional on multiple inputs, etc."

On a more serious note, I absolutely agree - there's really no limit whatsoever with a proper scripting language.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 6, 2013 at 10:27:12 am

[Walter Soyka] "[Simon Ubsdell] "It would be great to see a closer integration with Motion as it would open up an amazing world of possibilities. Two things don't favour that happening..."

It's funny, I hadn't even considered that. I was thinking about boosting the QC interface and repurposing it as Motion's expression interface. Actually integrating QC and Motion would be vastly cooler. Too bad the prospects sound grim."


OK, so here's a crazy little-known fact that is ironic and frustrating at the same time:

All the titles, effects, generators and transitions in iMovie (the real iMovie not the Pro version!) are Quartz Compositions pure and simple. In other words, Quartz supplies the effects engine for iMovie directly without any intermediate translator.

To verify this, go to iMovie in Applications and Show Package Contents - all the qtz files can be seen in the Resources folder. They can then be opened and edited directly in QC and you can save out the results for use back in iMovie.

In theory then it's perfectly possible for a much closer integration of QC with Motion - and hence FCP X as well.

Interesting - and tantalising.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Jun 5, 2013 at 8:11:49 pm

[Walter Soyka] "I'd suggest that an expression is stateless programmatic control over a property in an animation system at a given point in time"

A really elegant description - which also happens to be precisely the basis on which I ventured to advance the behaviors approximately equals expressions argument.

[Walter Soyka] "You could set up a system of Motion behaviors in a fraction of the time it would take me to write the equivalent expressions in Ae, but I'd win as we moved to more complex interactions. This goes to my "high floor, low ceiling" description of Motion in cases like this, and it's one of the reasons I generally prefer After Effects. I often choose to give up Motion's "rapid prototyping" because I'm afraid of bumping my head on the ceiling when I get to something that becomes too hard to do or too hard to manage in Motion."

I've always thought the "high floor, low ceiling" description was spot on - but ... For a huge range of users including me the key factor in terms of delivering results for my business is speed pure and simple.

It's always a question of balance and speaking as someone who likes to test the limits of what is possible low ceilings can be immensely frustrating; on the other hand, speaking as someone who has to crank out results to a limited schedule, I can readily live with the "low ceiling" since speed is mostly the only thing that's really at issue.

It always surprises me to see designers plod away in Ae when there are faster alternatives available. It is very often the case that the attachment to Ae is emotional (which I can fully understand) rather than rational in any sense.

[Walter Soyka] "I'd also suggest the addition of a "JavaScript behavior" or a "Python behavior." It would be a behavior with a custom UI for adding input properties and entering code."

Have you ever taken a look at Conduit (available within Motion as it happens)? There's ton of really interesting stuff there in terms of scripting capability. It really surprises me that no major player has tried to help Conduit move to the next level as it seems to me there's massive potential for the kinds of things you are talking about.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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John Hadwin
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Sep 13, 2014 at 3:45:19 am

I've been asking myself for half a decade, "Why on earth did Apple buy the most awesome compositing software ever made (Shake), make Shake 4.1, and then bury it without explanation... they just killed the best thing EVER! It has been the most depressing, helpless feeling ever. And I will never be able to afford Nuke.

Now, I think I can see what they did with it. They were just purchasing the limitless node-based concept and (sadly) decided to trash the GUI. Would anyone else like to investigate this with me... is Motion 5 none-other-than... Shake 5 in disguise?

After Effects was INCREDIBLY inferior to Shake because literally anything was possible with Shake... and any combination of anything was possible without scripting. Need to do some expressive math? There was a math-node ready to be dropped into the node tree. Need to do "this"? There was a "that" node to for that too!

I have NEVER used Motion. Basically being all but offended by its unfamiliarity and its lack of renown in the industry. When I found out it did not do expressions, I laughed and shook my head at the company that brought me the iPhone but killed Shake! I'd trade a world with Shake for a world with iPhones any day of the week... but alas, maybe Motion 5 is Shake 5 in disguise.

I'm going to force myself to do this entire MGFX project in Motion and I'll be back here to give my full report ;) Any other shake users out there?


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John Hadwin
Re: Apple Motion (again, sorry!): Behaviors are Expressions
on Sep 24, 2014 at 1:56:49 pm

Here is the conclusion...

N O !

It is more than clear that my "Shake-E-pooh" has gone and married on the wrong side of the tracks, gotten himself involved with the wrong crowd, and now all that remains of him is this mongrel patchwork called Motion 5.

Nevertheless I wish this bizarre love child well, seeing that it inherited one or two recognizable qualities from Shake. It is apparent that Apple had the dominant genes in the relationship, but what a rare beauty Shake was. May it rest in peace.


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