Motion 2 full review

Released only a year after Motion 1.0 hit the stores, version 2.0 seems overshadowed by the excitement that Soundtrack Pro and Final Cut Pro 5 have evoked. Admittedly, Dynamic RT is a feature that even Avid’s top-notch DS Nitris 7.6 systems can’t match.

Why Motion 2 wasn’t announced with more fanfare or hype is indeed a mystery. Apple carefully avoids labelling Motion 2 as what it really is: the Adobe After Effects killer. Unlike After Effects, with its source-code full of dusty legacies, Motion 2.0 represents the latest in development technology.

Motion 2 delivers almost unprecedented performance improvements over the previous version. On a Power Mac G5 it’s up to ten times faster than Motion 1. If this isn’t enough to justify an upgrade, the abundance of impressive new features such as new filters or GPU-accelerated 32-bit float rendering for film-grade colour quality could tip the balance.

Motion 2 ventures beyond its trademark Behaviors and animation recording into what Apple calls MIDI Behaviors. With MIDI Behaviors you can associate MIDI knobs and faders to object parameters in your animation and control the attributes of several objects simultaneously by interacting with the MIDI device.

Motion 2 introduces Replicator, a tool that builds complex patterns by cloning objects, distributing and animating them. A Behaviour called Sequence Replicator can sequence the replicator parameters over the pattern.

How huge the gap between After Effects and Motion 2 has become, you notice first-hand when your client requests some ‘minor changes’. As it frequently turns out, in After Effects you have to repeat awkward procedures or start from the very beginning while in Motion 2 it takes a few adjustments at most.

Plug-in paradise
Many After Effects artists derive their inspiration from plug-ins carrying such prominent names as Boris FX, dvGarage or Zaxwerks. To spark the development of native plug-ins which could also take advantage of OpenGL, Quartz Extreme, QuickTime 7 and Core Image, Motion 2.0 (along with Final Cut Pro 5) premieres an own API for hardware-accelerated plug-ins, the so-called ‘FxPlug filters’. This could finally help enhance the application with much-desired features such as motion tracking with Boris Continuum. The only downside to this approach is the fact that for the time being, the market for plugins is dominated by Adobe After Effects.

To help you overcome the difficulties of such a gradual migration to Motion, Apple engineered an innovation of almost heroic proportions: a Roundtrip for Adobe After Effects. In other words, Motion 2 projects can be output for use in After Effects in a way that they retain editability and can be sent back to Motion 2 for improvements.

Simply drag-&-drop an unrendered Motion 2 project file onto After Effects Comp window and the file will be instantly accepted as a QuickTime movie, with no rendering. Motion 2 does not export an After Effects project file, but a kind of hybrid QuickTime movie; The file is a project wrapped into a QuickTime movie.

To send the file from Adobe After Effects back to Motion 2, all you need to do is use the Edit Original command from the Comp window in After Effects. Once the editing is complete and the changes saved in Motion 2, the project file placed in After Effects will be updated automatically. For digital artists working with After Effects, Motion 2 poses a real, unexpected to their familiar application. You can now compare Motion 2 files head-to-head with After Effects projects.

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