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25 Jan 2021
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Is it possible to center justify text on a path in Motion? 03 Mar 2022 16:45 #119250

  • MWoods
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Greetings all. I'm a long time After Effects guy trying to get my head around Apple Motion. I am trying to make an animated title in Motion for a Final Cut program that I am working on. The text needs to follow the curve of an arch, and the text needs to be centered at the top of the arch. Unfortunately any text applied to the path seems to automatically be treated as left justified. So far the best solution I have come up with is to publish the "Path Offset" to Final Cut, and adjust that for every title. Is there a better way to do this that I am missing? Thanks!

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Is it possible to center justify text on a path in Motion? 04 Mar 2022 08:28 #119279

  • sc_fox
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The answer is yes. The solution is kinda "out there".

Assuming that the midpoint of any (unclosed) path is the 50% path offset, this method will place the text at the 50% point - 1/2 the width of the text... but it's not that simple because the curved text will change the measurements used by Motion and throw it off slightly (among other things - see below).

Therefore, a duplicate of the text - not on a path - must be maintained as a "null" object. That means you will be limited in your font options because font settings must be rigged and you will not know if the end user will have the same set of fonts as you do (unless you use only the fonts that come with Final Cut). You will also have to arrange to link all the attributes you need to keep the two texts more or less the same.

You can link the text of one text object to the text of another by right clicking on the Format > Text options menu and Add Parameter Behavior > Link.

Next, add a Numbers Object. Unset the Animate option and right click on Value to Add Parameter Behavior > Link. To the source, add the Text COPY object and from the Source Parameter Options, select Object Attributes > Size > Width. Set the Scale to 0.05*.

*The Numbers object does not always represent actual values and frequently uses Percent values instead which is 100 times more than the original parameter value... (but not always - depends on the linked parameter and/or the object).

For the "arch" in my example, I'm going to use an Oval (Circle) shape. This is going to change the "target" Path Offset to 25% (or the top of the oval).

Apply the Oval as a Path Layout for the original version Text Object and set the Path Offset to 25% (as a default).

Add a Link behavior to the Format > Advanced > Offset > X parameter.

To the Source Object, add the Numbers Object and for Source Parmeter > Object.Numbers.Value.
Set the Scale to -0.5 (or it's half width). By using the Offset parameter, you can avoid trying to convert the value to a Path percentage (which you cannot do without some division - which Motion does not do! [At least as a variable entity].)

Add to your text. You will see it align with the center top of the oval and it works even if you change the dimensions of the circle. It should work as well with an open path (but you will need to change the Path Offset to 50%.)

Don't get your hopes up for perfection - you'll get close most of the time, though. The problem with this method is that Font Metrics varies from font to font. Glyph placements in character spaces can be an issue so you may find that you will need to make minor adjustments for perfect center alignments to a path. Another thing that affects layout is the size of descenders and Caps (especially at "off angles"). You might try setting the duplicate text to All Caps with All Caps size about 95% (you can use this as a "fine tune" adjustment control).

If you use a Sequence Text, make sure you duplicate it to the copy!

If Motion starts crashing a lot, make sure you unlink parameters (and especially the Sequence Text behaviors) before making modifications to the two texts (like adding other links to things like tracking, baseline, etc...)

If I left something out, none of this will work, so let me know how it goes.

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Is it possible to center justify text on a path in Motion? 04 Mar 2022 16:32 #119290

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Wow. Thanks for the detailed answer. That is a lot more complicated than I was hoping for, but you are using a lot of interesting tricks so I will have to give it a try. It sounds like a good learning exercise. I'm currently publishing the Path Offset variable, and adjusting that for each title in FCP. I was a little annoyed at having to do that because I wanted to animate the Path Offset. After I posted my question, I discovered that I could animate the Path Offset using parameter behaviors instead of keyframes, and still publish the Offset to FCP. Thanks for your help. I'll let you know if I am able to replicate your technique.

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Is it possible to center justify text on a path in Motion? 07 Mar 2022 20:45 #119341

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Hi sc_fox,

I got it working. You are a wizard to figure that out!
Two slight problems with your instructions in case someone else trys to follow them. First "Numbers Object" threw me for a loop. I was looking for something in the objects menu. I finally figured out that you meant a Numbers "Text Generator". Secondly, the scale value on the X parameter offset link needed to be -0.25. -0.5 right justifies the text instead of centering it.
I learned a lot from this. Thank you!

-Matt

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Is it possible to center justify text on a path in Motion? 08 Mar 2022 19:39 #119353

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I haven’t used Motion in a while but I have used it extensively in the past. This seems way more complicated than I remember. I believe Motion text defaults to left-justification and I typically had to set it to center justification in many of my projects. Might be worth looking at.

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Is it possible to center justify text on a path in Motion? 08 Mar 2022 20:24 #119354

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@anickt You can set text to be center justified, but if you apply the text to a path, that setting does nothing. Ideally, it would justify around it's "path offset" point, but instead that offset point is always on the left side of the text.

@sc_fox. I am trying to deconstruct what you did and your reasons for it. It works, but it still seems like a magic formula to me. When I follow the formula exactly, it works, but the math doesn't make sense to me, and if I try to adjust it, (for instance by trying to bypass the numbers text generator) it breaks and Motion is prone to crashing. This is skirting the edge of something Motion really does not want to do.

I am loving Final Cut Pro X so far. Premiere is dead to me. Unfortunately, Motion seems to be badly in need of some love from Apple, and I can't yet see it replacing After Effects in my workflow. If I don't think of it as motion graphics animation software, but rather as a slightly buggy development tool for Final Cut Plugins, it can do some cool things. But it could be so much more with some love. I was kind of hoping to see some announcements about Apple's Pro Apps along with their Mac Studio announcement but such was not to be.

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Is it possible to center justify text on a path in Motion? 09 Mar 2022 04:05 #119368

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One of the mysteries of Motion is *how* its parameters work behind the scenes. Take, for example, the Twirl filter, specifically the Twirl > Twirl parameter. It looks like a Rotation parameter - in degrees. Link it to a Numbers "object" value and its default value (180º) will disply 31.415926536 (with 10 decimals displayed). This is 10 times higher than Pi. Setting the Link Scale to 0.1 and you have Pi, but the display value in the Twirl filter is 180º. For various other uses, this is extremely useful, especially if you are using an Oscillate behavior and you need to adjust the Phase parameter with an OSC which is also Pi-related (factor of 10 notwithstanding—suggesting the internal value of Numbers is also different than what is shown which *may be* a translation to "percent" OR an effort to squeeze in an extra factor of 10 "level of precision" [don't know, don't care].)

As another example, create an OSC and publish its location parameters (x and y) and save it as a template. Study how they appear in Final Cut. Whereas Y always goes from -.5 to +.5, why do the X values go from -.89 to +.89 (hint: in a 16:9 project). In Motion, the actual pixel values are shown (-960 to +960 in a 1920x1080 project) but NOT in FCP. The real values (revealed by dialing down the disclosure triangle) of Filter OSC controls are always 0.0 to 1.0 always based on the object's size they are attached to. In the X direction, 0 is always the left edge and 1 is always the right edge -- regardless of the actual pixel width of the object.

The Numbers Value is affected differently by different parameter inputs and you need to be able to determine its relationship to the objects being linked.

In most cases, Numbers Value is the value of most parameters, just not all and this must be expected otherwise Numbers makes no sense at all and would be generally dismissed... "Rookie mistake".

Numbers Value (which is a completely different entity than the **detached** Animated Numbers between "Start" and "End") can be used to translate values that normally cannot be linked together (those "not allowed" as well as those "that fail"). Numbers makes a very good accumulator for complex arithmetic calculations. Numbers is actually a very convenient "null object" as it actually displays the numbers needed to review on the screen as you work with them and it is just as easy to turn off ITS visibility as it is any other object.

And yes, Motion is prone to crashing when trying to do some things it was not originally designed to do . Report all crashes. Save often (and have Autosave set up!). Then restart and look for a different way to accomplish what you want. I've done it a "million times". [Sometimes, the order in which you do things can make all the difference!]

PS - I apologize. I referred to "Numbers" as an Object and not a generator. I usually apply it from the Add Object menu and not the Library. When I use items as a "service" and not for imaging, I think of them as objects (typically "null objects"). I usually try to be more clear than that!

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Is it possible to center justify text on a path in Motion? 09 Mar 2022 20:59 #119383

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Your twirl Parameter seems to be based on radians, which makes sense as it is still a measurement of Angle, but I get your point. Apple hides the real values of certain variables in favor of ones it deems more user friendly. The Numbers text generator is a good way to look under the hood, and see what the real value is.
Numbers is doing something more than being just a diagnostic tool in your example though. I feel like I should be able to optimize the effect, by multiplying the two links' scale parameters, bypassing numbers, and linking the path text's Format > Advanced > Offset > X parameter to the reference text's Attributes > Size > Width, but I can't get that to do anything.

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