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The conclusion: for easy stuff, use Motion; and for much more complicated industry production, learn After Effects! Here’s the details:
The Power of Many
Inside of AE, you can have as many different compositions as you want, which really gives you flexibility when working on a project. The most common phrase you’ll hear an editor or compositor say is that a client never knows what they want, but they sure know what they don’t want. Great thing with AE is you can build one composition with a hundred variations to satisfy even the pickiest of clients. With Motion, you have one project, one composition. There are work arounds to create multiple versions inside a project, but it’s just that, a workaround.
Adobe is smart
Don’t get me wrong, I love After Effects, but two of the worst features used to be keying and motion tracking, which are essential for a compositing application. So, what did Adobe do to fix them? They didn’t! They decided to partner with Imagineering Systems to include Mocha for After Effects, a motion tracking application, and with The Foundry to include Keylight, a chroma keying plug-in that for my money, is one of the best out there. Motion on the other hand has a built in Keyer (new and improved in version 5) and Motion tracker that we can use to get the job done, but as we all know, in most cases, the built in tools never really do the job very well. Luckily we have third-party plug-in developers like Boris FX that create excellent plug-ins for both those tasks, but that of course means additional costs.
Two way vs One way
After Effects, much like Motion, is a stand alone application, but AE is also a part of the Production Premium, and has very tight integration with Premiere Pro CS5, and the ability to send clips from PPCS5 to AECS5 and vice versa is as simple as right-clicking and saying “Replace with After Effects Composition”. Not the case with Motion 5. Since Apple’s release of FCP X, Motion 5 and Compressor, we have quickly realized that Motion 5 is an island with a one way bridge leading off it, with the ability to create final composites, effects, generators and titles for FCP X,but there is no way to send clips from your FCP X timeline to Motion 5 the way we did in FCP 7 and Motion 4. To be honest, I have a lot of issues with the way Apple launched FCP X, but this one boggles my mind.
As you can see, there are a lot of After Effects tutorials out there, with some of the best living right here on the Cow. Find me someone producing Motion tutorials. There aren’t many of us out there, which is unfortunate for Motion users, but great for Cow watchers, as you can check out Chapter 1 of my Motion tutorial series right here on the COW. Keep watching, as there’s many more to come.
You’re how old?
There have been 14 versions (and I’ve included .5 versions as they have been pretty major updates) of After Effects. That’s 14 versions to streamline the world’s most used compositing application, and get just about everything right. Motion is at version 5, and there really hasn’t been anything that I would consider to be a “major” enhancement since version three. We already have 3D compositions, cameras and lights, as well as 3D particle systems, and with the release of Motion 5, we were introduced to rigging (adjusting multiple parameters at the same time), as well as the ability to build Effects, Generators, Transitions and Titles for Final Cut Pro X, but in the end, these are all baby steps from where I started with Motion at version three. The advantage that applications like Motion have is that After Effects is the industry standard for visual effects for television and film, so as long as they keep up with the “basics” of AE, they are going in the right direction.
Now let’s take a look at some of the advantages to Apple’s Motion over Adobe’s After Effects.
No Waiting Required
One of the many things I love about Motion is the fact that it has real-time playback of your compositions. No previewing necessary. Simply create whatever you want, press the spacebar, and watch it playback in real-time. Even in HD. Don’t have a powerful computer? Don’t worry, you can adjust the quality so no matter how complex your compositions might be, your client can see what you’ve created right away.
There’s no such thing as bad behavior
Keyframing is at the core of any effects work in any compositing or NLE application, but let’s be honest. Wouldn’t it make our lives a lot easier if there was an easy way to create basic to intermediate animation effects with a few clicks of the mouse? Well, that’s where Behaviors come into play in Motion. A Behavior can be something as simple as a Fade In/Fade Out, or as complex as a rotation in 3D space. They are simple to apply, and do most of the common tasks we find ourselves Keyframing. They are a fantastic addition to Motion, and unfortunately a completely underused feature as well.
You want how many of those???
The Replicator is a fantastic tool unique to Motion, and one that if used correctly, can create some very cool effects. Simply select the layer you want to replicate, hit a button, and you now have multiple versions of that selected layer. The best part of the replicator is that you can create 3D extruded logos and text very easily with it, and they playback in real-time just like anything else. There is nothing like this that I have seen that comes standard in a compositing application, which is what makes it a big, big feature inside of Motion.
Work while you render
That’s right, with the power of Compressor 4 added to Motion 5, you can process in the background! Let’s see, that’s only an additional $50 to be able to render complex animations, and keep working on other projects. What does that mean for you? The ability to make more money by having less down time waiting for your renders to finish. What else can I say except……AWESOME!
I’m sorry, you said you were how much?
$50. That’s right, $50. That’s the cost of Apple’s Motion 5. What I normally tell people is that it’s actually $100, because if you’re going to make the plunge and pick it up, pick up Compressor 4 to add the ability to process in the background. Do you know that most people would spend a couple hundred dollars to get a plug-in for After Effects that let’s you extrude objects, but for $50, you get all the great features I listed above, and so much more!
So, the inevitable question now is, which one do I buy? Well, here’s my answer. If you are a Mac user (Motion is not available on Windows), and are serious about including motion graphics in your projects, you really should own both, and here’s why. Every post production house in the world has at least one AE license running in their facility (most have many, many more), so if you plan on updating other artists work, or taking work that other people have done, and adding it to your project, After Effects is a no brainer. Also, on the AE side, having the all of the tools, effects and third-party plug-ins at your disposal, means you are ready for just about any request a client might throw your way. Adding Motion 5 to your arsenal adds the fantastic Replicator, as well as Behaviors and Background Rendering (for an additional $50 for compressor) for $50, which is less than the cost of most individual 3rd party plug-ins for After Effects. I can’t tell you the amount of times I find myself creating text animations in Motion and bringing them into After Effects to add to my project. The one-two punch of AE and Motion has me cover for all the motion graphics projects I work on.