Applying Motion to Clips and Changing Their Shape

You've seen videos that fly images in boxes over other images or fly a spinning video clip onscreen?starting as a small dot and expanding to full-screen size. You can create those effects using Premiere's motion settings.

Task: Test out Premiere's Motion Settings

Here's how it works:

  1. Clear your timeline.

  2. Drag a video or linked video/audio clip to the Video 1 track. Select it.

  3. Open the Effect Controls palette. Click Setup (next to Motion). Up pops the Motion Settings dialog box (see Figure 11.12).

    Figure 11.12. The Motions Settings dialog box?one of Premiere's most powerful tools.


    This Motion Settings dialog box is one of Premiere's most powerful tools. The upper-left window is the preview screen. Your clip should be sliding left to right across a white screen. That's the default motion setting.


    Alternatively, you can access the Motion Settings dialog box by right/Option-clicking the Video 1 clip to access the Clip menu and then selecting Video Options, Motion or selecting Clip (on the main workspace menu bar), Video Options, Motion.


    Because this clip is on Video 1, you cannot display anything "beneath" it. So if you fly this clip onto the screen, all that your viewers will see at first is a white screen. You might want to change the color to more closely match your clip's predominant color.

    To do that, either click the Fill Color box and select a background color or move the cursor over the clip window beneath the Fill Color box and use the eyedropper to select a color. The new color will show up immediately in the preview window.

  4. The screen on the right shows the motion path. At the moment, your clip starts just offscreen and immediately moves horizontally from left to offscreen on the right.

    Move those start- and endpoints by grabbing their respective small white boxes and sliding them around the screen. Your cursor hand will turn gray when you are close enough to grab a box. Note how the animation in the preview screen changes.

  5. Create a diagonal line, as illustrated in Figure 11.13.

    Figure 11.13. A diagonal motion path takes the clip from the upper left to the lower right.


  6. You can create additional keyframes on the motion path. Move your cursor anywhere on the path, wait until it turns into a pointing hand, and click to create a keyframe handle.

    For future reference, note that when you create a new keyframe a little triangle pops up above the motion timeline. I've highlighted that in Figure 11.14. I'll get to this timeline in a moment.

    Figure 11.14. Placing a new keyframe handle on the motion path adds a little triangle to the motion timeline.


  7. Drag the keyframe to a new location and note the changed path in the preview screen.


    This is where the motion settings process gets a little confusing.

    Note that the original location of the keyframe handle you create?relative to the two endpoints?sets its timing. If you create a keyframe in the middle of the motion path, the moving clip will reach that new point on the path halfway through the clip's duration. If you drag the keyframe to a new location, even if it's right next to the start- or endpoint, the clip will adjust its speed accordingly to arrive at that point halfway through its duration and continue from there for the second half of its duration.

  8. To see that the new keyframe's relative timing remains unchanged, drag the new keyframe handle next to the endpoint, as I've done in Figure 11.15. Note how quickly the clip moves to that new point on the motion path and then how slowly it moves to the endpoint.

    Figure 11.15. Moving a new motion path keyframe on the motion path does not change its original timing.


  9. Drag the new keyframe handle next to the start point and note how slowly the clip moves to the new keyframe location and how quickly it jumps to the end.

  10. To change the timing of your new keyframe?as opposed to its location?go to the motion timeline. You might have noticed that as you moved that new motion path keyframe around, the little triangle above the timeline remained stationary. That's because it represents the timing of that new keyframe relative to the length of your clip.

    Premiere displays that relative timing as a percentage of the clip length at the right end of the motion timeline. I've highlighted that in Figure 11.16.

    Figure 11.16. The motion timeline tracks keyframe actions by time, not physical location on the motion path.


  11. Move your cursor over that triangle until it turns into a pointing hand; then drag it left and right. Its relative timing will change, but the keyframe's location on the motion path remains unchanged. Note how changing the relative timing changes the preview motion.

  12. Just as you added a keyframe by clicking the motion path, you can add a keyframe by clicking the motion timeline. Then you adjust its physical location by moving its handle on the motion path.


Take a look at the time display below the percentage to the right of the motion timeline. The little blue clip with the two red arrows highlighted in Figure 11.17 indicates what the time display means. If the arrows are close together, the time display is where the currently selected keyframe is located on the clip.

Figure 11.17. The little clip icon with its two arrows indicate whether the displayed keyframe time is its position in the clip or the entire project.


If you click that clip icon to separate the arrows, this will display the keyframe's location in your entire production. In this case, because you have only one clip on the timeline?your clip equals your production?the numbers should be the same. If you were to slide this video clip farther along the timeline and return to the Motions Settings dialog box, these times would be different. You use this little clip timing icon to make exactly timed moves.

Changing Values in the Motion Settings Dialog Box

Now things can get even more confusing. The Motion Settings dialog box?below the motion timeline and highlighted in Figure 11.18?needs some clarification. I'll cover each element in turn:

Info? This is the keyframe's location relative to the center of the "visible area" in the motion path screen. That visible area is 80x60 pixels, so a location of ?40, 30 is the lower-left corner and 40, -30 is the upper-right corner. No one at Adobe knows why the Y value is positive for a point below the center. It just is.


You can fly multiple video clips over another video or still image?so-called "pictures in a picture." One way to add some "realism" to that process is to give your flying videos drop shadows. And one way to do that is to fly a translucent gray box "beneath" a flying clip, matching its motion but remaining slightly offset from its route. You'll use these location numbers to create those parallel routes. In Hour 17, "Tips, Tricks, and Techniques: Part 2," I'll explain this process in detail.

Rotation? You can input a value between ?1440 degrees and 1440 degrees (that is, between four full rotations counterclockwise and four full rotations clockwise). The number represents the angle of the clip by the time it reaches the selected keyframe. Select 360 for the new keyframe (press Tab to record the change) and then watch. Your clip makes one full counterclockwise rotation by the time it reaches the keyframe and then spins clockwise back to zero degrees by the time it reaches the endpoint.


If you want a clip to rotate and then hold that new position (360 degrees, for example) without rotating back to zero, you need to change all subsequent keyframe settings to 360 degrees.

Zoom? This is the clip's relative size from 0 to 500%. To see it in action, select the start point by clicking its hash mark on the motion timeline, set its Zoom to 0, select the new keyframe, and set its Zoom to 200 percent. Then select the end point and set its Zoom to zero. If you drag the start- and endpoints closer to the visible area, this change will become more apparent. Again, whatever value you select is the relative size your clip will achieve at the moment it arrives at that keyframe position.

Delay? This is the relative amount of time the moving clip will hold its position at the selected keyframe. It can't exceed the relative time remaining to the next keyframe. To see this in action, select a keyframe and give it a delay of 40% (if the value exceeds the relative time remaining in the clip, Premiere alerts you with a "beep").

That places a blue bar on the motion timeline, as I've highlighted in Figure 11.19. You'll note that your clip now pauses when it reaches the keyframe. Slide the keyframe on the motion timeline to the right. The blue bar will keep you from sliding it all the way to the end or beyond the next keyframe.

Figure 11.19. Setting a delay at a keyframe places a blue bar on the motion timeline, representing its length relative the entire clip.


Motion? This sets the style of motion from the selected keyframe to the next keyframe. It can be Linear, Accelerated, or Decelerated. That is, the clip can move at a constant speed to the next spot, start slowly and then build speed, or start quickly and slow down at the end. Try all three using the start point and watch how your clip arrives at the keyframe.


If you're flying an image onscreen and then flying it off, I think the most "comfortable" motion options are to set the start point to decelerate and the keyframe to accelerate. This means your clip flies on quickly but settles smoothly into place and then leaves gradually, zipping offscreen at the end.

Distortion? Drag the clip corners in the Distortion window to change your clip's shape. Again, the clip gradually will shift to that new shape as it approaches the selected keyframe, and it will shift back to normal (or to a new setting) as it moves to the next keyframe.

Figure 11.18. Some of the Motion Settings dialog box's components are nonintuitive.



Alt/Option-clicking a corner lets you rotate the distorted clip on its axis (equivalent to changing the Rotation value).

If you don't like any of a keyframe's settings, click Reset. That changes all the options for that selected Keyframe back to their default values.

If you want to have a clip move to the center of the screen, select a keyframe and click Center.

Layering Clips in Motion

I will cover this topic in more detail in Hour 17. Here is a barebones overview of how to have more than one "picture in a picture" flying over a background scene. Normally when you place clips above each other on the timeline, you can see only the top clip. Being opaque, it covers all the other clips.

Using motion settings you can place several clips above one another, starting with Video 1 and climbing (to add video tracks, right/Option-click the Timeline and select Add Video Track). Give the Video 1 clip a background color and give all the clips in higher video tracks (starting from Video 2 and climbing) different motion settings. Making them cross paths shows you how clips higher on the timeline cover clips beneath?if only briefly. Preview each new clip motion by selecting Show All.

    Part II: Enhancing Your Video