By Mike Curtis Macworld.com | on July 24, 2009
Price When Reviewed: 695 . 216
Pros: More powerful compositing environment for graphics than Final Cut Pro; 3-D shadows and reflections; depth of field, credit rolls, and other features enhance and speed production of visually rich content; Share feature aids file exports.
Cons: Beefy computer required for best results; shadows, reflections, and depth of field look simulated instead of fully realistic and can be difficult to work with; render times can still be long as with any complex compositing application.
Credit rolls have long been a painfully awkward part of post production. Now, you can import a Rich Text Format credits file and set behaviors for automatic scroll speed, flicker control, or opt to start off-screen. There's even a viewer that shows you what section of the credits you are looking at relative to the entire list, much like the zoom feature in iPhoto.
ProRes (see the Final Cut Pro 7 review) has a new family member, ProRes 4444. With up to 12 bits of accuracy, 4:4:4 chroma sampling, support for up to 4K resolution files, and a 10 bit alpha channel, this is the high-quality compressed codec with alpha channel support that compositors have been badly needing for years.
It's the little things that can make your life simpler and happier, and your motion graphics work smoother and faster. New Camera Framing Behaviors let you more easily and smoothly control and transition where the virtual camera is looking. A new Adjust Glyph Tool lets you tweak an individual letter as you would any graphic.
The Sequenced Text Behavior picks up on this as well -- you can adjust any single character, and those attribute changes ripple through the rest of the characters in that text element, which makes custom animation of text much easier. The new Link Parameter Behavior lets you pick an attribute from one object and have it control attributes in another object, such as linking the rotation of a car wheel to the lateral position of the car on screen.
As with Final Cut Pro, the new Easy Export function, accessed from File->Share, allows for easy export to the most common formats, and can even burn DVD and Blu-ray discs directly from your composition. New text generators, support for all of the new ProRes codecs, a Bad Film filter, multi-touch gesture support, and support for the 3Dconnexion SpaceNavigator (a 3D controlling mouse) round out the major enhancements to this version.
Motion continues to get more robust with this new version. If you have a fast new machine, especially with a high powered graphics card like the ATI Radeon HD 4870, you can get complex work done amazingly quickly, while previewing as you work. For motion graphics, Motion is now a serious rival to Adobe After Effects in terms of speed and the ease with which complex animations can be set up. With shadows and reflections and depth of field, the results are also now more photorealistic than before, closing the gap between Motion and After Effects for certain kinds of work. Under the hood, Link Parameters, Camera Framing Behaviors, and other tweaks allow for easier control of more sophisticated animations. As someone who started doing motion graphics about 15 years ago, I'm very happy with this upgrade.