Working with the Layer List
The Layer List, which occupies most of the bottom part of the Motion Titler display, has two columns: one of layer headers, and one of timeline tracks. In each row, the header contains the name of the layer, a visibility button and a lock button. To the right of the header, the timeline track serves as a graphical editor for controlling the lifespan of the layer within that of the title as a whole, and the durations of any motions that have been assigned to the layer. The Layer List timeline self-adjusts its resolution so as to make visible the title’s full duration, which you can set either by trimming in Edit mode or by entering a value directly into the Duration counter at the top right of the titler.
In addition to the layer headers and timeline, the Layer List has a header bar that is home to several important groups of controls (see “The Layer List header bar” below).
The left-hand portion of the Layer List contains the layer headers; to the right is an animation timeline where the timing of each layer, and of any motions applied to them, is displayed and can be modified. (Only the leftmost portion of the timeline is shown here.)
Clicking a header in the Layer List has the same effect as selecting the layer in the Edit Window (and vice versa). The layer name highlights, and the layer’s control frame appears. Multiple selection is also allowed, using the standard Windows mouse and keyboard combinations Shift+Click (extend selection), Ctrl+Click (toggle selection of one item), and Shift+Ctrl+Click (extend selection from last item clicked). See Working with layer groups for information on how to use multiple selections.
When you create a new layer, the Motion Titler gives it a default name based on the resource name or file name. Since the default names are often not very descriptive of the layer contents, it may be helpful in a title with a number of layers to give them custom names that make it easier to tell at a glance which name goes with which layer.
The name of a new text layer is the same as its default text, i.e “Text”. Unless you give the layer a custom name, its default name will continue to match whatever text you type into the layer. Once you do rename a text layer, further changes to the text are no longer reflected in the layer name. The default behavior can be restored by setting a blank name, however.
To rename a layer, double-click the existing name. An edit field opens with the existing name selected. Type the new name, then press Enter or click outside the edit field to conclude the operation.
As described under Layer operations in the Edit Window, the position of a layer in the layer stack can be altered by means of commands on the Layer context submenu, or by keyboard shortcuts such as Alt+Plus (Layer Ø Bring to Front).
The Layer List offers a more direct approach: simply drag the layer header to a new position in the list. This is particularly handy in situations where overlapping layers make mouse selection difficult. As you drag the layer, an insertion line shows where the layer will appear in the list when dropped.
Using multiple selection (see “Selecting layers” above) you can drag several layers at once to a new position.
A complex title can get crowded very quickly as you add layers to the composition, and motions to the layers. The two buttons at the right-hand end of the layer header are handy, each in their own way, for simplifying such situations.
Click the eye-shaped visibility button to temporarily remove a layer from the Edit Window. The layer’s information and settings are preserved, but you will be able to work on other layers for the time being without the hidden layer obscuring either your view or your mouse actions. Click again to restore the layer to visibility.
Click the padlock-shaped lock button to prevent the layer from responding to mouse actions without hiding it from view. This allows you to work freely on deeper layers without losing the visual context that the upper layers provide. Click again to unlock the layer.
The controls and readouts on the header bar are in five groups. From left to right:
· The Add Text and Add Shape buttons allow you to create new “vector-based” layers to which looks from the Motion Titler Album can be applied. Clicking Add Text immediately adds a new text layer with a default look and caption. As a shortcut for Add Text, you can simply double-click any unused area of the Edit Window. Clicking Add Shape opens a pop-up menu from which you can select a particular shape to add.
· The Layer Alignment, Grouping and Layer buttons each open pop-up menus of commands affecting multiple layers. The Layer menu provides the same functions as the Layer context submenu described under Layer operations in the Edit Window. For coverage of the Layer Alignment and Grouping menus, please see Working with layer groups.
· The transport buttons allow you to preview your motion title without leaving the titler. The preview loops continuously once started; to halt it, click anywhere on the Edit Window. As usual, the space bar on your keyboard provides a convenient shortcut for stopping and starting playback. From left to right, the functions of the five buttons are: jump to start, go back one frame, play/pause, advance one frame, and jump to end.
· The copy, paste and delete buttons (or their standard keyboard equivalents Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V and Delete), allow you to duplicate or delete layers of all types. Copy and paste encompass not just the visual properties of the layer but also any timing changes you have made or motions you have assigned.
In the case of text layers in text-edit mode, the copy operation applies not to the layer but to the selected text within it. To select a text object for copying without putting it into text-edit mode, either mark out a rectangle that intersects the layer, or click its header in the Layer List.
In text-edit mode the Delete key applies to the selected text; however, the delete button on the Layer List header bar always deletes the current layer even for text layers.
· The counter shows the current position of the Layer List timeline scrubber in the usual hours, minutes, seconds and frames format.
When a layer is created, its duration is set to the full span of the title of which it is a part. To delay the first appearance of a layer in the running title, or to banish the layer before the title itself is complete, drag the ends of the layer along the timeline in the same fashion as clip editing on the Movie Window timeline.
A Motion Title is like a stage on which the layers are actors who come on for their big scene and then depart. Trimming the layers in the Layer List timeline allows you to control precisely the timing of their entrances and exits.
Up to three motions – one of each type – are allowed to each layer; these are also displayed on the timeline, where their durations too can be adjusted. Enter and exit motions are each anchored to their respective ends of the layer lifespan, but the end of the enter motion and the start of the exit motion can be freely edited with the mouse. If the layer has an emphasis motion, it occupies whatever unused duration remains.
Three layers with motions. The top layer has only an Emphasis motion (solid line), which therefore uses the full duration. The bottom layer has Enter and Exit motions, and a static interval between them. The center layer has motions of all three types. The Enter motion is being trimmed (note the horizontal arrow cursor); as its length changes, the Emphasis motion self-adjusts to consume fully any unused time.
To replace one of the motions used by a layer, simply add the new motion as usual: an existing one of that type will be overwritten.
To delete a motion without replacing it, click the small ‘x’ in the center of the motion’s timeline graph.