Motion Rigging for Final Cut Pro

Introduction to Motion Rigging

This article is all about Motion rigging for Final Cut Pro. In a previous video we looked at creating templates in Motion and publishing them in Final Cut. Rigging is the next step in making them really useful. We’ll create the three type of rigged widgets:

  1. Checkbox
  2. Pop-up
  3. Slider

These are simple controls you can use to change several parameters at once.

Here’s the video version of the tutorial:

Setup the Motion Interface

So let’s dive in and see what we can do. If you want to follow along, download the Motion Rigging demo project and open it in Motion.

Below you can see how Motion looks in the Classic layout.

Motion interface with areas labelled

To make your interface look the same as the one I’m using:

  • From the Window menu, choose Window Layout and Classic.

Make sure you have safe zones displayed, as we’ll be using these later:

  • From the View menu at the top-right of the Viewer, make sure Safe Zones is checked.
  • From the Motion menu, open Preferences.
  • Select the Canvas tab and click Zones.
  • Set Action Safe to 93% and Title Safe to 90%.

This is what I recommend, as they’re the current TV standard.

  • Close Preferences once you’re done.

Convert the Motion Project to a Title Template

We need to convert this Motion project to a Title template:

  • Go to the File menu and choose Convert Project To and then Title.

You get this pop-up saying, One layer may be used as a placeholder for the clip this title is applied to in FCP. What this means is that a layer needs to represent the clip that will be under the title in the Final Cut timeline.

  • In the Title Source menu, make sure Drop Zone is selected and click Convert.

The Drop Zone layer becomes the Title Background.

Doing this also adds a new layer called, Type Text Here. We don’t need this, so I’ll select the layer and hit Delete on the keyboard.

Name and Save the Template

Next we need to name and save this template:

  • From the File menu, choose Save As.
  • Give the template a name, I’ll call mine Indigo Title.
  • Under Category, you can either choose an existing one or create a new one.
  • To make a new category, select New Category and give it a name.
  • Click Publish.

It’s saved to the Motion Templates folder and is ready to use in Final Cut.

Test the Template in FCP

You can test the template by launching Final Cut and dragging it over a clip on the Timeline:

  • With a clip on the Timeline, open the Titles and Generators sidebar.
  • Select the category where you saved your title template.
  • Drag the title as a Connected clip over the one already on the Timeline.

Motion Jargon Explained

TemplatesThese are assets you create in Motion and publish to Final Cut Pro. Templates can be:
– Titles
– Generators
– Effects
– Transitions
RigsYou can create a Rig for each type of template. Inside the Rig you can have as many Widgets as you like. You only need one Rig for each project, but if you’ve got lots of widgets, you might want to organise them by creating more Rigs.
WidgetsThis is a simple control that can be rigged to control one or more parameters. There are three types of Widgets:
– Slider
– Pop-up
– Checkbox

Create Your First Rig

Let’s create a Rig and then make our first widget.

  • From the Object menu, choose New Rig.

A Rig layer with a joystick icon appears in the Project Pane.

Build a Checkbox Widget

Let’s start with something simple. I’m going to use a checkbox widget to control the position of the title.

  • With the Rig selected in the Project Pane, open the Inspector.
  • Click on Checkbox

A Checkbox widget is created in your Rig. You can see it in the Inspector and in the Project Pane.

  • In the Project Pane I’ll rename it as Lower-third.

This also changes the name in the Inspector.

Set the Checked Snapshot

When you rig widgets you create snapshots. This is where you change parameters in your project for the different widget setting. The checkbox is the most simple type of widget as it’s either on or off. So we can set a maximum of two snapshots. In this case we’ll have two positions for the title.

We need to decide what position the checkbox represents. When it’s unchecked, I want the title to be in the centre of the screen and when it’s checked, I want the title to be in the lower-third position. Because the title is already in the centre, the unchecked snapshot is already set. So all we need to do is to set the checked version.

  • Make sure either the Rig or the Lower-third layer is selected.
  • In the Inspector check the Lower-third box.
  • And where it says Edit Mode, click Start.

You’re now ready to set the title position for the checked snapshot.

This floating window pops up with a button. This is where we end the editing mode. It can get in the way, so you’ll probably want to drag it to different places on the screen.

Stop Rig Edit Mode button

We want to move the whole title, use the Master Group layer to do this:

  • Select the Master Group layer.
  • Make sure you’ve got the Transform tool selected. This is the default arrow.
  • Grab the title and move it until the text is positioned in the bottom-left corner of the title safe box.
  • In the floating window, click Stop Rig Edit Mode.
  • In the Project Pane, click on the Rig layer.
  • In the Inspector, click the checkbox on and off.

You should see the Title jump between centre and lower-third. Congratulations, you’ve just created your first widget! By checking and unchecking the box you’re changing both the X and Y positions.

Those parameters are now displayed in the widget, making in convenient to edit them. They have a joystick icon to show they’ve been rigged.

Parameters in the Widget

Select the Master Group layer. And in the Inspector select Properties. The Position parameter in the Properties tab also has the joystick icon. Not only is it a visual indicator, it prevents you setting keyframes on rigged parameter.

Publish the Rigged Widget to Final Cut Pro

The next question is, how do we make sure this widget is available in Final Cut? If you seen my previous training on creating Motion Templates, you’ll know how to publish parameters. Publishing widgets is exactly the same.

  • In the Project Pane, select the lower-third layer.
  • To the right of the Lower-third checkbox, click the down arrow. Not the one at the very top, but the one below.
  • From the Animation menu, choose Publish.
  • In the Project Pane, click on the Project layer.
  • In the Inspector, choose the Project tab.

This tab shows us how the published template settings will look in Final Cut. You can see the Lower-third checkbox.

  • Check and uncheck it to see it working.

From the File menu choose Save (shortcut ⌘-S) to save the changes we’ve just made and update the template in Final Cut.

Test the Rigged Title in FCP

In Final Cut Pro:

  • Delete the older version of the title from the Timeline.
  • Select the Titles and Generators sidebar.
  • Then the category you’re using.
  • Drag the title onto the Timeline.

With the Title Inspector selected, I can see my checkbox. I can check and uncheck it to see it working.

If I wanted to place my title anywhere on the screen, I could have published the Position parameters instead. But if two positions is all you need, then a Checkbox keeps things really simple.

There are other uses for a checkbox widget. The title in the demo project has a light blue ring and a darker blue circle. You could rig a checkbox to turn these on an off. You would do that by setting snapshots on the Opacity parameter of the Ring Group and the Solid Circle layers. We’ll be setting opacity snapshots soon, when we look at the Pop-up widget.

Creating a Pop-up Widget

Let’s return to Motion and continue working with the demo project.

A checkbox works great if you only have two snapshots to choose from. But if you have more than two, then a Pop-up widget is a good option.

At the moment the text says Indigo Film School. But what if I had three other text options I wanted to use? I could make my text area editable for Final Cut, then I could enter any text I like. But as I only need a limited number of options, it’s good to keep things simple. So a bit of extra effort in Motion can speed up your edits in Final Cut.

With that in mind, I’m going to create three more text layers with the wording I need. Then I’ll make a pop-up widget so I can jump between them.

Prepping for the Pop-up with three more Text Layers

  • Right-click (two-finger click) on the Indigo Film School text and from the menu choose Duplicate.
  • In the Inspector under the Text tab and the Format panel, change the text to Coming Soon.

You don’t need to capitalise, as the font is all caps by default. And don’t hit Return as this will create a new line in the text.

Clicking on the duplicated layer updates its name.

  • Right click on the Coming Soon layer and choose Duplicate.
  • In the Inspector change the text to Latest News.
  • Now duplicate the Latest News layer.
  • Change the text to Like and Subscribe.

To keep my Project Pane neat, I’m going to put my four titles into a group:

  • Click the first title and then Shift-click the last.
  • Right-click any of the layers and choose Group.
  • Rename this new group as Titles Group.

At the moment all the text is visible at once. But when we start rigging, I need it to be invisible. That way I only need to raise the opacity on the text I need.

  • Click the first title and then Shift-click the last.
  • In the Inspector, select the Properties tab.
  • Drag the Opacity slider down to 0.

And now all our titles are invisible.

You might be wondering why this R symbol appeared when we lowered the opacity on the four layers. It means the layer has been rasterised because of the opacity operation. Until we did that, the text was a vector object.

Rigging the Pop-up Widget

Let’s create the Pop-up widget and rig it to control the opacity of the text layers.

  • Select the Rig layer.
  • In the Inspector, click Pop-up to create a new pop-up widget.
  • In the Project Pane, change the layer name to Title Selector.

The name also changes in the Inspector.

If you open the titles menu in the Inspector, you can see there are three snapshots ready to go. We’ll rename these and then create a fourth.

Snapshots in the Motion Widget Pop-up menu
Snapshots in the Pop-up menu
  • Choose Snapshot 1 from the menu.
  • Click Rename.
  • I’ll call this one Indigo.
  • Select Snapshot 2 from the menu.
  • Click Rename and call this one Soon.
  • Select Snapshot 3 and name this one as Latest.

Now let’s create the fourth snapshot.

  • Click the + button.
  • Name this new snapshot Like & Sub.

Now let’s raise the opacity on the text we need for each snapshot.

  • From the Title menu, choose Indigo.
  • Click Start to enter the edit mode.
  • In the Project Pane, select the Indigo Film School layer.
  • In the Inspector, select the Properties tab.
  • Drag Opacity all the way up to 100.
  • In the floating window, click Stop Rig Edit Mode.

The Opacity slider now has the joystick icon to shown it’s been rigged.

  • Click on the Title Selector widget.
  • And with the Pop-up, jump between Indigo and the other menu items.

You’ll see the Indigo Film School text is visible when Indigo is selected.

Well done! You’ve successfully set the state for the Indigo snapshot.

The Opacity parameter you changed appears in the widget. It has the joystick icon to show it’s been rigged.

  • From the pop-up menu, choose Soon.

In the Viewer you can see once again all the text is invisible.

This process is repetitive, because for each snapshot we need to raise the opacity on the text layer we want to see.

  • Click Start
  • In the Project Pane, select the Coming Soon layer.
  • In the Properties tab, drag Opacity up to 100.
  • In the floating window click Stop Rig Edit Mode.
  • Click on the Title Selector widget.
  • From the pop-up menu choose Latest
  • Click Start
  • Select the Latest News layer
  • Drag Opacity to 100.
  • Click Stop Rig Edit Mode.
  • Click on the Title Selector widget.
  • From the menu choose Like & Sub
  • Click Start
  • Select the Like and Subscribe layer
  • Drag Opacity up to 100.
  • And click Stop Rig Edit Mode.
  • Click on the Title Selector widget.
  • Jump between the four menu items to see the different snapshots in action.

Using opacity to show and hide layers is something I do a lot when creating widgets. As well as doing this with individual items, you can also change the opacity of a group.

Publishing the Rigged Pop-up Widget to Final Cut Pro

The next step is to publish the Title Selector widget so it’s available in Final Cut Pro.

  • Select it’s layer.
  • Click the arrow to the right of Title Selector. Not the very top, the one below.
  • From the Animation menu choose Publish.
  • Select the Project layer.
  • In the Inspector select the Project tab.

Here you can see the published parameters, the Lower-third checkbox and now the Title Selector pop-up.

Let’s update the template in Final Cut:

  • From the File menu, choose Save or use the Save shortcut.

Now we have two widgets, you can see how the Rig acts as a container. When you select the Rig layer you see both the Lower-third checkbox and the Title Selector pop-up. But if you select either Lower-third or Title Selector, you only see the controls for that particular widget.

If you ever need to remove a widget, you can select its layer and hit Delete.

Creating the Slider Widget

Our last widget is the Slider. With reference to the demo project, use the Slider to change the colour and position of objects.

  • Select the Rig layer.
  • Click the Slider button to create a Slider widget.
  • In the Project Pane, rename it as Colour & Feel.

By default the slider has two snapshots, represented by pins. One is at zero and the other is at one hundred.

The Slider widget
The Slider widget has two Snapshot pins by default

You can adjust the starting and end values with the Range Minimum and Range Maximum controls. If you drag down on the number instead of using the slider, you can set Range Minimum to a negative value. Negative values are relevant to some parameters, but not the ones we’re working with in this example.

Let’s rig the blue colour in the rectangle so we can change it. I want the current colour to be the zero snapshot. And we’ll edit the snapshot at one hundred to be a different colour.

  • Select the pin for the 100 snapshot.
  • Click Start.
  • Click the Rectangle layer.
  • And choose the Replicator tab in the Inspector.

Under Color Gradient, you can see the right end of the gradient is blue. Let’s change this to pink.

Motion colour gradient parameter
The tags underneath the Color Gradient control colour, those above control opacity.
  • Click the blue colour tag.
  • Click the colour swatch to open the colour picker window.
  • Select the colour wheel and move the target to pink.
  • Click Stop Rig Edit Mode.
  • Click the Colour & Feel layer.
  • Drag the slider from 0 to 100 and you’ll see the colour changing from light blue to dark blue to purple and then to pink.

Here’s a quick tip. Don’t pick a colour that’s the opposite side of the wheel to the first one. That’s because the target will move across the wheel rather than around it. Instead of moving through different colours, it will change to grey as the target moves over the centre of the wheel.

Rigging more Parameters on the Slider

Now what’s the point of having a rig if you can’t control more than one parameter at a time? Let’s also control the position of the circle and ring with this slider.

At the moment, part of the ring is above the graduated rectangle. It would be better if it was below. So we need to rearrange some of our layers.

  • Expand the Ring Group by clicking its arrow
  • Shift select the Ring and Ring Shadow layers.
  • Drag them onto the Circle Group layer.

We can now control the position of both the circle and the ring, with the Circle Group layer. So let’s make that happen. I want the Circle Group to be at the left of the title at 0 value. And on the right at 100. Because it’s already on the left, the 0 value has been set. Let’s rig it for the right-hand position.

  • Select the Colour & Feel widget.
  • Click on the 100 snapshot pin.
  • Click Start.
  • Select the Circle Group layer.
  • And in the Inspector go to the Properties tab.
  • And drag up on the X Position value.
  • Once they’re in the right position, click Stop Rig Edit Mode.
  • Select the Colour and Feel layer.

Now when you move the slider you can see the Circle Group moving as the colour changes.

You’re not limited to two snapshots, you can have as many as you like. To create another snapshot pin, double-click under the slider. You can position it anywhere and then hit Start to set new values.

To remove a pin, drag it away from the slider.

Because it has a sliding scale of values, you can also animate it with keyframes.

Publish the Rigged Slider to Final Cut Pro

In this last step, publish the Slider to make it available in Final Cut.

  • Select the Colour & Feel layer
  • In the Inspector, click the arrow to the right of the widget
  • From the Animation menu, choose Publish
  • Select the Project layer.
  • And then the Project tab.

You can test out the Colour & Feel slider.

This tab is showing you how the parameters will look in Final Cut. If you want to change the order of the parameters, just drag them up or down. This is also a good time to think about default values. How do you want the title to appear in Final Cut when it’s first applied to the Timeline?

  • Make sure the Lower-third box is unchecked.
  • I’ll set my Title Selector to Indigo.
  • I’ll drag the Colour & Feel slider to 0.

With that done, I’ll save the template to update it in Final Cut:

  • From the File menu choose Save (⌘-S).

Test the fully Rigged Template in Final Cut Pro

Now we can see the template fully operational in Final Cut.

  • I’ll delete the older version of the title from the Timeline.
  • And drag in my latest version from my IFS Titles category.

When I go to the Title Inspector I can see my settings at their default values. I can change them to create the effect I want.

Final Cut Pro Title Inspector
Published controls in the Title Inspector in Final Cut Pro


So in this video you learnt how to rig the three different types of widgets. A Checkbox, a Pop-up and a Slider. You published them to a template so they can be used in Final Cut.

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