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Background Video Textures On Text (In Motion 5)

A commonly used motion graphic trick is to have text move with the texture of the video it is on top of. In Apple’s Motion 5 this is pretty easy to do. This applies to version 4 just the same, but the screens may look different.

Setting Up the Project

Launch Motion 5 and in the Template Browser select the generic Motion Project, Preset of Broadcast HD 720, Frame Rate 59.95 NTSC, duration will be the duration you wish. Use Shift-Z to adjust the Canvas to fit inside its frame. In the File Browser find the background video you want to use. In the examples I’m using here I have a clip of splashing water from ArtBeats.

Adding Text

Click the Text Tool in the tool bar to select it, click in the center of the Canvas, and type out what you want. When you’re done typing, hit the Escape key to exit the Text Edit mode. Use F4 to get the Text tab.  Adjust your text as desired.  I recommend a sans-serif (plain block) font, set to Bold, and adjust Size to be large enough so that the animate texture from the video clip will be obvious. In the Style tab set the Face Color and Outline as desired.  To start, try an Outline of black at a 4 pixel Width.  This will help with the following step.  Move it around in the Canvas to position it inside the frame as you wish.

Adding Depth

With the text layer highlighted in the Layers pane, use Command - 2 to bring up the Library tab, go to Filters, the Stylize group, select Extrude and press the Apply button. This will give 3D depth to the text. F3 for the Filters tab.  Here are some suggested values to use as a starting place. Angle 205, Distance 62, Clipping 33 and Back Size 0.99. Then the three Face, Front, Back Brightness of 2.0.  Set Extrude Style to Gradient. Click the Gradient disclosure triangle to expose the gradient controls.  Click each of the color tags below the gradient scale, then click the color swatch selector, or the eye dropper to pick the colors for the extrusion.  Your goal here is to match the Face Color of the text so that the Extrude filter looks like a natural part of the text.  This is why I suggested giving the text a black Outline previously.  

Extrude filter

Applying The Video Texture

With the text layer highlighted in the Layers pane, Command-2 back to the Library tab, Filters, Distortion group, Bump Map and press the Apply button. This filter will cause the textures Motion perceives in the video clip of the layer just below your text to be applied to the text. 

Drag the icon of the video background to hover your cursor over the “Map Image” source well. When you see the hooked arrow cursor, drop the image in. Set Controls to Direction and Amount, set Direction to 45 degrees, set Amount to 0.07 and uncheck Repeat Edges. These are just suggestions to start with. Amount is how much you can stretch/squash your text on the angle set in Direction. This will increase/decrease how the filter effects your text.

You can also switch the Controls setting to Horizontal and Vertical Scale for an alternative set of controls. These will stretch/squash your text out in each direction. The more you go in either direction the more intense the effect.

Of course you’ll want to have your project playing back as you tweak the Bump Map adjustments. Since your text will stretch/squash as you intensify the effect, you may want to F4 back to the Text tab and in the Format tab adjust the Size, Line Spacing and Tracking.

The Final Polish

Often there’s one last step we can take to give this effect real pizzaz. Use F1 to get to the Inspector’s Properties tab. Go down to the Blending section, and open it to see the controls if it’s not already open. Experiment with the Blend Mode setting for different effects, but I’ll recommend the Linear Light to start off with.  It gives my text a bright look and I can see my texture through the text just enough that it enhances the overall effect. 

I find any of these “Light” selections or any other selection in this third section of Blend Modes to give pretty nice results with this sort of technique.  Also in the first section of Blend Modes I like trying out Multiply, Color Burn and Linear Burn.

Linear Light Blend mode


With only two easy to control filters we can achieve a pretty remarkable effect. Think about using other elements besides text.  You can also use some of Motion’s library generators such as Clouds as your background, too.  Perhaps an animated Replicator or even a Particle Emitter could be the background providing the animated texture. Another option is once your animation is set up would be to uncheck the background’s visibility control in the Layers pane to hide it, the animated texture to your text or other element is still active thus giving it a self contained look. The possible combinations are tremendous.

Ben Balser

Ben Balser | Articles by this author

Ben Balser studied educational psychology at Loyola University, and after retiring from a 20+ year IT career, now produces, consults, teaches, and rents equipment for media production as a full time job. As an Apple Certified Master Trainer, he ran the Louisiana Cajun Cutters FCP user group for 8 years, taught post-production at Louisiana State University and has lead their annual teen filmmaking bootcamp. He teaches currently for AATC facilities across the USA and for The Orchard Solutions. He has consulted for higher education, government, broadcast and private production facilities.


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