If you make graphics with Motion then the Heads Up Display or 'HUD' will be no stranger to you. You won't however be seeing behaviors controlled by a similar GUi in a competing application as Apple has just bagged themselves a patent.
The title of the patent is 'User interface for controlling three-dimensional animation of an object' which just about encompasses all the actions within the HUD you can do. Not too sure that the fade in and out of an object or layer is a three dimension animation, but that's thrown (groan) in there too.
Quite a timely patent as we were only discussing how cool it would be if the HUD was brought over from Motion into FCPX. Or at least the object or layer moving, scaling and rotating procedures for both apps was unified.
Back to he patent which was awarded on the 30th October 2012. The named inventors are Greg Niles & Guido Hucking who we know personally from the Motion 1.0 launch and Brian Walsh.
Here is the abstract:
"A user can control the animation of an object via an interface that includes a control area and a user-manipulable control element. The control area includes an ellipse. The user-manipulable control element includes a three-dimensional arrow with a straight body, a three-dimensional arrow with a curved body, or a sphere. In one embodiment, the interface includes a virtual trackball that is used to manipulate the user-manipulable control element."
More interesting is the background to the patent:
In the last few decades, computers and software have been used to animate objects. Initially, animation software was complicated and difficult to use. A user was generally required to interact with objects using a low level of abstraction. For example, a user would manually create different visual representations of an object (keyframes) and then use software to interpolate between them.
Recently, animation software has become more user-friendly, enabling a user to interact with objects at a higher level of abstraction. For example, a user may animate an object by applying a "behavior" to the object. A behavior is an animation abstraction and can be thought of as a macro, script, or plugin. When a behavior is applied to an object, the object is animated in a particular way (e.g., by growing or shrinking or by moving in a specific direction). Some examples of animation software that support behaviors are Anark Studio and Macromedia Director MX.
Although behaviors make it easier to animate objects, software that supports behaviors can still be difficult to use. Many types of behaviors may be applied to one object, and each type of behavior can be customized based on several parameters. Understanding each of these parameters and its effect on the behavior can be confusing. Providing values for all of these parameters can also be time-consuming.
What is needed is a better user interface for animating objects using behaviors.
From then it goes into the normal long-winded all-encompassing phrases that try to describe everything possible the patent could cover.
From a quick read through the only thing that made us look twice was the fact that there is a specific reference to the user adjusting the opacity of the HUD.