Replicator overview

The Motion replicator builds complex patterns of repeating elements—from a simple line of animated shapes to flowing kaleidoscopic imagery—without manual duplication or tedious keyframing.

You can add a preset replicator to your project from the Library, or you can create your own custom replicator using nearly any image layer in your project, including video, still images, shapes, and text. For example, with very few clicks of your mouse you can create spinning loops based on a simple shape.

Canvas showing examples of replicators

Replicators consist of two basic elements:

  • Replicator: A special type of effect that generates multiple duplicates of an image layer, then arrays the copies in the Canvas, creating a complex pattern. You specify the shape and arrangement of the pattern, such as a spiral, circle, or box.

  • Cell: The image layer that’s duplicated and assembled as a pattern in the Canvas.

The replicator and its cells have separate sets of parameters that control the look of the mosaic pattern you see in the Canvas. Changing the replicator parameters modifies the overall onscreen pattern, allowing you to create rectangular, circular, spiral, and other geometric layouts. Changing the cell parameters affects each element in the onscreen pattern, allowing you to modify attributes such as the angle, color, and scale of the pattern pieces.

You can also modify elements in the pattern by making changes to the source layer used to create a cell. For example, if you use a rotated rectangle shape as the replicator source layer, the replicated elements in the Canvas appear rotated. If the source layer has applied filters, the effects of the filters are retained in the elements of the replicator pattern.

Unlike particle systems, replicator patterns are static by default. However, many of the preset replicators available in the Library are already animated, and you can always manually keyframe parameters of custom replicators, or apply behaviors. For example, by keyframing a replicator’s Offset parameter, you can create a wave of dots that slither across the screen.

Canvas showing replicator with keyframed Offset parameter

You can add behaviors to the replicator or its cells to create even more varied effects (simulation behaviors can be especially effective). Behaviors applied to a replicator or a replicator cell can be applied to each element of the pattern. This lets you achieve almost limitless variation and complexity that would take hours to animate using keyframes. You can also apply a behavior such as Vortex to another object in your project (an object that is not part of the replicator pattern), and have the pattern elements circumnavigate that object.

A special behavior called Sequence Replicator choreographs the parameters of your onscreen elements (their position, scale, and opacity, for example) in a sequential animation. For more information, see Apply the Sequence Replicator behavior.

Replicators take advantage of the Motion app’s 3D capabilities. Some replicator shapes are inherently 3D, and others can have points that exist in 3D space. Additionally, behaviors applied to a replicator in 3D space can pull pattern elements out of a plane. For more information, see Work with 3D replicators.

Note: Although you can replicate any image layer in your project, you cannot replicate replicators themselves, or particle emitters, lights, cameras, or rigs.