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In Motion 4 Essential Training, Ian Robinson shows how to start building outstanding motion graphics and animations for video production. He demonstrates how to build custom text animations with the new Adjust Glyph tool and explores Motion’s amazing real-time 3D tools. Ian highlights working in the 3D space, creating depth with lights and shadows, and using reflections to add realism. He gives practical advice on how to integrate Motion into a professional video workflow, round-tripping with Final Cut Pro and sending a final project to Compressor. Exercise files accompany this course.
When adding lights to a scene, there are two major factors, the light properties and how the objects will react to that light. Let's get started by opening the Project pane. Press F5 on your keyboard and you'll notice we have a Camera and a Text Group that contains a bunch of layers of text and a Floor object. Now as you can see, without lights, this really doesn't have very much life. So let's get started by adding a light. Go up to the Object pulldown menu at the top of your screen and choose New Light and you notice the light automatically got added and then the screen went completely black.
This is because there is no auto- lighting feature built into Motion. So whenever you add a light, you need to make sure that you light the entire scene. Since we're talking about that, let's open the HUD so I can show you all of the different types of lights in Motion. So you notice, by default, when you create a new light, creates what's called a Point light, which functions pretty much just like the icon, a light bulb without a lampshade on it. So if you click on the control handles and move it up in Y and back in Z, you notice we've lit the scene a little bit.
But as I click-and-drag around, look in the Perspective view in the lower right corner, you'll see this is a very kind of lonesome solemn scene, because this is just one tiny little light. Now in order to help the scene, a lot of times I'll add another light called an ambient light. If we crank the intensity up on the ambient light, you notice this lights the entire scene. There is no falloff or anything. It's literally just controlling the brightness of all the objects in the scene. It is nice that you can tint this light by changing the color.
Ctrl-click in the Color tab and let's make this light a little bit warmer. We'll make it sort of a light yellow. Now that we have our ambient light, let's turn the Intensity down, way down to about 37% and add one more light. Go up to Objects, and say New Light. Notice the second light is a Point light and now we're actually starting to get some pretty interesting looks to our scene. If you drag the light up and back in the scene, you'll notice, like I said, it's creating a rather interesting look.
But if you pay close attention, there's one problem. There are no shadows and there are only two types of lights that actually generate shadows. It just so happens that the Point light is one of them. So if you check the Shadows checkbox, voila! Here are your shadows. Now, if you've ever had an object, not create shadows, you probably want to go into the Inspector. So you can either press the little I button in the upper right corner of the HUD or just click on the Inspector tab. Well, let's select an object, for example this word Pivots.
If you look in the Properties tab, you'll notice there are two options, one called Blending, which is the Normal blend mode. But you'll notice there are reflections in there, which we'll get to in a later video. Then Lighting, which you'll notice, by default, its set to an Inherited, which means it will inherit the properties of the overarching group. Let's focus on Shadows. So with these two boxes checked, this object will cast shadows and receive shadows. So let's see what Space looks like. It looks like it's casting a shadow and you'll notice it is.
And if we click on XYZ, XYZ is casting shadows and receiving shadows. If we look lastly at the Floor, you'll notice its casting shadows and receiving shadows. So you might be asking yourself, why would I want to turn on Shadows only? Well, select the word Space and check the Shadows Only box and you'll notice it's created this very interesting effect. This way you can actually silhouette shadows on other objects. It also comes in handy when you're trying to create a complex composite.
When you're layering multiple things on top of each other, sometimes it make sense to have individual control of the object as a shadow only, so you can make changes just to that one specific parameter. Let's go ahead and turn that off. Let's go back up to Light 1 and continue checking out the different types of light. Click on the popup menu and let's choose Spot light. So the Spot light functions just like it would on Broadway. You can adjust the Intensity, which is the overall brightness of the light.
You can also adjust the Falloff Start and the Falloff. The Falloff Start determines when the light intensity will start to dissipate. So a high Falloff Start means that the light will go a long way before its brightness begins to fade. Whereas the Falloff itself is just how quickly that light will disappear once it's reached the edge of the Falloff Start. So it kind of softens the edge of the light at that point. Now let's look at the Cone Angle. This obviously makes a really tight Spot light or a nice wide one.
You can also feather that edge a little bit with the Soft Edge slider. Now this is interesting, under the Shadows checkmark, there is a slider for Softness. If you click-and-drag that, it's very hard to see, but this is actually adjusting the softness of the shadows. So I drag this all the way to the right. It's really made the shadows soft or as I drag it to the left, they are kind of harsh. Now you can take the shadows to the next level, but I'll get to that in a quick second. For now, click on the popup menu and let's look at the Directional light. Now the Directional light is just like the Ambient light in the fact that it really doesn't matter where you position it in your canvas, because all its doing is just throwing light that has absolutely no end.
It's just throwing it at a specific direction, and yes, you can change the intensity, but literally, it's as if this were a laser beam. It just shoots the light out at whatever intensity you have in whatever direction. Now, when I said it doesn't matter where it's positioned, let's rotate around here and move the light behind XYZ space. You'll notice it's still functioning as though that light is there. Let's crank up the intensity so you can see a better example. So you notice now the light is completely behind that text, but it's still receiving light from that light.
Let's change that back to a Spot light and move the Spot light back into the scene. Now let's give this a little bit more flavor by moving the Spot light up and crank it down the Intensity just a little bit. Let's rotate around the scene and frame up our title a little bit better. Sometimes it helps if you select the object that you'd like to frame just as you rotate around in the scene. So remember when I said you could take shadows to the next level? Well, let's look at the Spot light options in the Inspector.
Under the Shadows discloser triangle, you'll notice there is an option for the Softness and the Opacity of the shadow, but there is this checkbox called Uniform Softness. If we deselect that checkbox, you'll notice the shadows are nice and sharp here and then they get blurrier the further they move away from the object. This is really amazing, but I honestly recommend that you only deselect this when you're ready for your final output. But really as you continue using more 3D options like reflections and un-uniform softness, you'll want to pay special attention to the Render pulldown menu.
You can turn all these options off while you're going around and getting your camera moves down and positioning your objects and just finalizing the animation as a whole. I typically have these all off and at the end, I'll turn on my Lighting, Shadows, and Reflections and if I'm using it, Depth of Field. So as you go on and light your scenes, let me offer one last bit of advice, try and light your scenes with two lights or less. Now I know common 3D techniques are all about the three-point light setup, but if time isn't the essence, the less lights, the faster the render.
So if your computer slows down to a crawl when you're trying to preview your animations, try turning off the lights until you're ready for final output.
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