Basic compositing overview

After you create a project and add content, you can begin to edit and arrange the image layers in your composition. This process is known as compositing, the art of combining at least two images to produce an integrated final result. Motion graphics artists use various compositing techniques to create animated visual effects—transforming the physical properties of image layers (such as scale), adjusting opacity, applying filters, creating text and shapes, and so on. Compositing also includes special effects techniques such as keying, masking, color correction, and the creation of animated particle systems.

Most basic compositing tasks are performed in four areas of the Motion workspace:

Motion interface showing Properties Inspector, Layers list, Canvas, and HUD
  • Layers list: Select image layers and effects objects in this hierarchical list. You can also rearrange the stacking order of image layers so that certain images appear above other images in the Canvas. See Layers list overview.

  • Canvas: View and manipulate image layers in this visual workspace. Select onscreen editing tools in the toolbar below the Canvas to perform basic layout tasks in the Canvas—selecting, moving, rotating, scaling, distorting, and so on. The onscreen tools let you adjust all of these properties by dragging in the Canvas. See Transform layers in the Canvas overview.

    Tip: Although you can select layers in the Canvas, when multiple layers are stacked one atop another, it’s often easier to select specific layers in the Layers list.

  • Properties Inspector: You can also adjust layer properties using numeric controls—sliders, dials, value fields, and so on. These controls in the Properties Inspector let you make the same adjustments afforded by the onscreen editing tools, but with more precision. Adjustments made in the Canvas are simultaneously updated in the Inspector, and vice versa. For example, if you change a layer’s scale by dragging its corner handles in the Canvas, the layer’s Scale parameter is updated in the Properties Inspector. See Transform layers in the Properties Inspector.

  • HUD: Many of the numeric controls in the Properties Inspector are also available in the HUD (heads-up display), a floating window that you can show or hide. See Transform layers in the HUD.