30 April 2020

Replacing After Effects with Apple Motion - after getting Boris FX and Mpuppet

After Effects is the last of the Adobe products I have yet to find a workable replacement for, until maybe now. Motion is sort of the red-headed stepchild of the Final Cut suite, Apple does not give it much love and never really has. I bought it right after it came out and it's been through a few iterations over the years but now it is sort of an add on for Final Cut X, in fact a version of Motion is hidden inside Final Cut so it can be used to make interactive templates.

It is an odd duck of a program, the interface and very different from After Effects in many ways but it has and always has had the advantage of being much more "live". In other words you can work on it with a lot less lag and hear sound playing as you scrub which makes syncing to sound really easy without have to wait constantly for RAM previews. I don't know why, but Apple had and still has the opportunity to make it into a real After Effects competitor by simply adding some features borrowed from the AE feature set. It's almost gets there, but never quite makes it.

Boris Effects Blur and Sharpen is something I have had my eye on for years now. In After Effects I use a great plugin to add motion blur in post to my 3D animations but even though it's available fro Motion I never bought it. The Boris set of plugins has a motion blur and a depth map blur which lets me add depth of field to animations, again in post. The plugins recently went on sale so I finally ordered them. Motion now has everything I use on a regular basis in AE with the exception of the puppet tool for animation with still photos. Enter the new MPuppet plugin, which was also on sale which does all that and a little more. Both were  more money than I wanted to pay even with the discounts but Motion is completely functional for my needs now. There is a 15$ puppet tool add on for Final Cut, but not Motion which limits the use in a 3D space and the kinds of interpolation you can use. A great deal but I would run into problems if I suddenly got work on an episode of "American Experience" again. (Please hire me more! I love working on that show!)

So right now I am using the Motion app for my latest animation. So far so good. The interface takes  some getting used to after decades of AE under my belt but I like it and some of the features, like adding grain I like much better in I did in AE. I find it faster and the live sound really saves time and take away a ton of aggravation. I find even when I have lower the resolution for more complex scenes, 1/2 res is almost as clear as full res in many ways and can be used for everything but super precise colour adjustments.

Feature I have not been able to replace are the retouching and paint features in After Effects. When I was de-rigging and retouching stop motion commercials having this feature was invaluable. While t's not as important, I do still use it to fix small issues with renders so I odn't have to serenader a complex scene over again so finding a plugin that can clone and paint like AE will be the next thing to look for. Until then I'll have to keep AE and hope Apple finally decides to actually put some effort into it's Motion app.

If you never tried Motion, maybe now is the time with everyone being stuck indoors for eternity. Its 50$ on the Apple store.

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