As the dust settles after the incredible launch of Final Cut Pro X, let's turn our attention to the somewhat less anticipated Motion 5. Released in sync with Final Cut Pro X via the Mac App Store, it’s available for the astounding price of...wait for it... $49.99 (£29.99 in the UK). Once you’ve recovered from the price shock (considering that its closest comparable rival, After Effects CS5.5, is priced at $999) it’s natural to begin wondering whether Motion 5 has seen any improvement since version 4. Perhaps it is now merely a slimmed-down motion graphics package? Has it lost any of its “Pro” application features? In short, no and no.
Although not as radically altered as Final Cut Pro X, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future of Motion. In this first look review we’ll walk through some of the more exciting features and important changes that have taken place in Motion 5.
If you plan to install Motion 5 and/or Final Cut Pro X and Compressor 4 on a system with an existing copy of Final Cut Pro 7, please read this Installation Best Practice guide from Apple first!
Upon launch a new Project Browser window appears and it’s evident that Motion 5 has some unique abilities right off the bat. Not only is it possible to create a Motion project and then import that project into Final Cut Pro X, now you can create Final Cut effects, generators, transitions and titles (more on this later). This level of integration holds a lot of promise for the future devlopment of both applications.
It’s no surprise that Motion 5’s interface sports the same clean, dark, sleek exterior as Final Cut Pro X. But, for experienced Motion users, much of the interface should feel very familiar. The Inspector, File Browser and Library all reside in and work much the same way as they did in Motion 4. The Timeline now has its own Toolbar, similar to the one in FCP X and iMovie '11.
Many of the improvements have taken place under the hood. Like FCP X, Motion 5 is now a full 64-bit application, shares the same render engine as Final Cut Pro X and Compressor 4, and utilitzes GPU and Grand Central Dispatch (multiple cores processing here we come!)
Back to the interface: the one major improvement aside from the darker color theme is the new Keyframe editor that sits neatly beneath the Timeline. This makes it much more intuitive when animating, adding and editing keyframes offline.
One of the parts of Motion I’ve always enjoyed are the additional content libraries. With a wide range of motion titles, generators and replicators, it’s safe to say not much of this content is included with the initial install of Motion 5. However, you can visit Software Update or the Motion application menu to download the additional content directly to your Mac for no extra charge.
Motion 5 can be used to fully edit and customize Final Cut Pro X templates. You can open these directly in Motion, modify them, save them and make them ready for use in Final Cut Pro X. There’s no need to send these Smart Motion Templates specifically to FCP X. Simply saving (or publishing) the template makes it ready for use directly from inside Final Cut Pro X.
Bear in mind that you can create an Effect, Title, Transition and Generator for Final Cut Pro from within Motion using the New from Project Browser... menu. It’s worth exploring how nice and tight this integration is in the real world.
Rigs are one of the new marquee features in Motion 5. Designed to make controlling multiple parameters a breeze, I find it to be a useful addition. Simply right-click on the parameter’s shortcut menu in the Inspector and choose ‘Add to Rig’. Here you can create a new Rig or add to an existing Rig. The control type can be set as a checkbox, pop-up or slider. The beauty of this is that other parameters from other tracks and objects can be added to the same Rig which will appear on its own track in the Timeline. From here you can keyframe and animate the Rig. I’m keen to explore the capabilities of this feature in more detail!
Motion 5 is easier on the eye and feels like a more complete and accomplished version than its predecessor. Working with keyframes and multiple parameters are great reasons in themselves to pay the tiny price of entry into the world of motion graphics. Add to that the new Easy Chroma Keying feature and the ability to create and modify templates for Final Cut Pro X and you can see that Apple fully intends for Motion and FCP X to be complementary tools for video editors and visual storytellers for some time to come.
I hope you enjoyed this Motion 5 review. We'd love to hear your thoughts on the new Motion 5. Please leave a comment below and let us know what features you enjoy using the most and share your opinions and workflow tips!