Apple's Motion is now over 15 years old, so time to give FCPX's backbone companion app a little love. In the article below we take a look back, but the live chat will end up looking forward. Where is Motion going next? What features will the next Motion have and what would Motion benefit from getting. We discuss, live on YouTube!

Taking part in the live chat hosted by Felipe Baez @baezfelipe
Mark Spencer from Ripple Training @markspen
Alex Gollner AKA Alex4D @Alex4D
Peter Wiggins from FCP.co @PeterWiggins

It all started for us way back at NAB 2004 when motion graphic designers were not used to seeing anything work in real time. Then came that famous demo that made designers' jaws drop to the floor.

On a side note here, if the presenter looks familiar you would be right, it is Joseph Linaschke. You might know him better as PhotoJoseph from his excellent YouTube channel.

Interesting to note that from the NAB video, you might see the Discreet booth next to Apple's. This is of course when Apple did trade shows!

It was a decision from Discreet that led to Motion being born. Discreet (Now Autodesk) who you will know from their Flame and other compositing products, decided to move their Combustion engineers from warm Santa Monica to Montreal. They didn't want to go, so they swapped employer to Apple and started from scratch (no joke intended) building a new motion graphics tool.

It was good timing, Apple’s purchase of Shake wasn’t going too well, it was a high-level compositing app for feature films. Not so good for flying type rendered out to interlaced video. As Motion was being written from the ground up in Cocoa in Mac OS X, (The original FCP was written using the older Carbon frameworks) it could benefit from the advantages of the Unix architecture and OpenGL. 

Nobody at that time was talking about the power of the GPU and that's exactly what Motion was designed to harness. Apple marketed the app being able to design in real time whilst the timeline played.

Shake didn't completely die though, certain technologies live on to this day inside the Pro Apps.

Motion also had new ways to control (ehem) motion. Instead of keyframes, the user could now build animations using movement behaviours such as Throw & Grow/Shrink, simulation behaviours such as Gravity and Drag and camera behaviours such as Dolly and Zoom. To name only a few!

Motion also hinted at the future of NLE design by showing a changing GUI based on what the operator required. When the work would get more complicated, the GUI would unfold to show more controls. It is now called 'Progressive Disclosure' and is one of the reasons why FCPX is very good at maximising screen real estate.

This was of course in the PowerPC era and Apple recommended at least a machine with 1.33GHz PowerPC G4 with 512MB of RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce FX Go5200 GPU. All of which you would have found in a PowerBook G4.

And so things continued until NAB 2007 when Motion 3 was announced. That contained the ability to position items in a 3D multiplane environment. Although not true 3D, this 'postcards in space' positioning feature changed the app overnight.

Motion 4 in 2009 bought along 3D lights, shadows, reflections and that gorgeous depth of field. Master Motion templates kicked off the third party race to build products for the masses.

Then it all went a bit quiet until June the 21st 2011 when it was relaunched with a dark GUI as Motion 5, the graphics companion app to Final Cut Pro X.

You could now make plugins for FCPX that were published directly into the effects, title, transition and generator browsers. The addition of rigging made the programming of changes within the plugin easy by grouping multiple parameters together. 

In 2015 we saw Motion 5.2 released and soon we were all flying in 3D text on everything.


Then here's the problem.

Since then, apart form adding 360 video features and a few other additions and tweaks, there hasn't been any major new developments.

Has Motion's development slowed down to a crawl? (again no pun intended!) We all know there is a copy of Motion within FCPX, but is Motion's development being sacrificed for its larger host?

Join in with the live chat on YouTube and find out!

Written by
Top BloggerThought Leader

I am the Editor-in-Chief of FCP.co and have run the website since its inception ten years ago.

I have also worked as a broadcast and corporate editor for over 30 years, starting on one inch tape, working through many formats, right up to today's NLEs.

Under the name Idustrial Revolution, I have written and sold plugins for Final Cut Pro for 13 years.

I was made a Freeman of Lichfield through The Worshipful Company of Smiths (established 1601). Though I haven't yet tried to herd a flock of sheep through the city centre!

Current Editing

great house giveaway 2020

2020 has been busy, the beginning of the year was finishing off a new property series (cut on FCP) for Channel 4 called The Great House Giveaway. I also designed and built the majority of the graphics as Motion templates. It has been a great success and the shows grabbed more viewers in the 4pm weekday slot than any previous strand. It has been recommissioned by C4 for 60 episodes, including prime-time versions and five themed programmes. The shows have also been nominated for a 2021 BAFTA.

Tour de france 2020
Although both were postponed to later in the year, I worked again on ITV's coverage of the Tour de France and La Vuelta. 2020 was my 25th year of editing the TdF and my 20th year as lead editor. The Tour was the first broadcast show to adopt FCPX working for multiple editors on shared storage.


BBC snooker the crucible

BBC's Snooker has played a big part in my life, I've been editing tournament coverage since 1997. I'm proud to be part of a very creative team that has pioneered many new ideas and workflows that are now industry standard in sports' production. This is currently an Adobe Premiere edit.

amazon kindle BF

Covid cancelled some of the regular corporate events that I edit such as trade shows & events. I was lucky however to edit, from home, on projects for Amazon Kindle, Amazon Black Friday, Mastercard and very proud to have helped local charitable trust Kendall & Wall secure lottery funding.

As for software, my weapon of choice is Final Cut Pro and Motion, but I also have a good knowledge and broadcast credits with Adobe Premiere Pro, MOGRT design and Photoshop.

Plugin Design & Development

I'm the creative force behind Idustrial Revolution, one of the oldest Final Cut Pro plugin developers. It hosts a range of commercial and free plugins on the site. One free plugin was downloaded over a thousand times within 24 hours of release.

I also take on custom work, whether it is adapting an existing plugin for a special use or designing new plugins for clients from scratch. Having a good knowledge of editing allows me to build-in flexibility and more importantly, usability.


Now in its 10th year and 4th redesign, running FCP.co has given me knowledge on how to run a large CMS- you are currently reading my bio from the database! Although it sounds corny, I am pretty well up on social media trends & techniques, especially in the video sector. The recent Covid restrictions has enabled live FCP.co shows online. This involves managing a Zoom Webinar through Restream.io to YouTube and Facebook. 

The Future

I'm always open to new ideas and opportunities, so please get in touch at editor (at) fcp.co. I've judged film competitions, presented workflow techniques to international audiences and come up with ideas for TV shows and software programs!


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