[still no hands on time, what I know I know from a demo]

Motion is a new not-yet-released behavior based motion graphics program from Apple Computer. Just about every effect is realtime. From distorting, blurring, resizing, overlays and particles. It’s realtime effects come from the graphics card. A major departure from CPU based programs like Combustion and After Effects. This means that in addition to the $299 software, you will need a ATI Radeon or nVidia GeForce graphics card in your G5 or Mirror fronted G4 and a lot of RAM. Upgrading your current card will set you back about $300. I think I would rather put that toward a shiny new G5 and call it a day. As for RAM… you can always use more RAM.

There are four ways to control effects in Motion. 1) You can drop a behavior (such as Fade in/out) onto a video or object and the default state of will instantly show up in playback. If the defaults aren’t to your liking you can 2) click on the object in the canvas and access it’s “dashboard”. The obvious things that you would want to change are accessible from this overlayed transparent panel. If you need more control of that “behavior” 3) a side panel can be accessed from the layers giving you precise control of all the properties. Finally, there is a 4) keyframe panel that lets you change keyframe to linear or curves (ease in/out).

Once behavior is changed to your liking you can put it into your own library of presets. After you do that you can drag drop it onto any other object put on the canvas. Effects can even be grouped together or layered up to produce more profound elements.

Settings for an object can played once or looped forever. Meaning that over and over things only need a few keyframes. This makes making changes trivial. Doing the same thing in After Effects requires copy pasting keyframes over and over and over, or rendering the element, re-importing it, then setting it’s “loop” for 999. In either case with AE, a simple change cascades into many steps.

Particle effects are a strong point of Motion. They can “stand alone” or can be made from other objects (like art made in Photoshop) or from text. If you’ve struggled with Particle Playground in After Effects you’ll find Motion to be more accessible even though there are WAY more options. Learning to control particles in Motion will set you apart from other people using this tool. To particle-ize a graphic, add the graphic to the canvas and then click the particle button. The ‘dashboard” will let you change the direction, spread and speed of the particles. Opening the “details” panel will let you change all the birth, death, offset, gravity and repel options.

Type is a big part of Motion. Selecting and changing text is fundamentally different in Motion. Any time you select a new font style from a menu the select text on the canvas is INSTANTLY changed! This differs from the way a Mac works now which changes text AFTER you release the menu. The old way is clearly old… and now I want all my apps to work the way that Motion works when it ships. All text is edited directly on the canvas making it a single step versus After Effects 7 step process [ find then, select the layer, twirl effects, select text, click panel window, select the edit underline, edit the typo, click ok.

What’s not in Motion? Sound is clearly an after though. It can play a sound included with a video. You can also import a sound track, set in and out points etc. But you cannot hook up sound to elements. For example using the overall volume of a sound to control birth rate of particles. A feature that is accessible using After Effects Expressions (version 5) or Motion Math (since version 3). OMF (a completely cool and very misunderstood feature) support is absent but if you base your editing out of Final Cut Pro you won’t miss it in Motion. Learn more about OMF here [ http://www.apple.com/finalcutpro/audioediting.html ]

Also missing is a concept of “3D”. And there is no “tracking”. But whatever, Motion is not a compositing tool so you really don’t need tracking or 3D.

Another big missing was SMPTE time code. This may be missing do to it’s dependance on the GPU. Again… if your workflow is FCP based then this isn’t a big deal. FCP will provide the exactitude you require.

A question that I didn’t ask was in regards to NTSC field rendering. With on the fly GPU based rendering that doesn’t normally work with “fields”…. Ack. I’ll stop thinking about that a wait until Motion ships to find out.

Will Motion replace After Effects? Not as a 1.0! I can see using both for a best of both worlds feature set. Laying down a majority of the work in Motion and then finishing in After Effects. Maybe Adobe should rename AE and call it After Motion?