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Full Product Review

Adobe LiveMotion
by Adobe Systems, Inc.

New: LiveMotion 2.0 is now available! Read the Review.

Rating -  

Reviewed by Tim Skyrme

...Contined from Page 1

The timeline in LiveMotion looks a bit unwieldy until you get used to it. Each new object when introduced, comes in on its own layer. Layers are important in this sort of program as they enable objects to be moved backwards and forwards. If you forget to do so in Flash, you may need to create layers and move frames between them. LiveMotion avoids having to remember to do this, which speeds things up considerably. Each layer has a series of attributes already in place and more can be added at any time, including extra layers. The attributes and filters applied to a layer or object affect only that object or layer unless a series of objects is selected at the same time. The simplest way to select objects is to go to the timeline and Ctrl + click the objects at the left hand side. If a filter is applied, or a movement is performed now, it will affect all the selected objects at the same time and in the same way.

Placing an object creates a keyframe at that point and a certain length of display is shown on the timeline as a pink line with a knob at each end. These handles can be adjusted by pushing or pulling on them. The whole object display time length can be moved to another point in the timeline by left clicking and holding in the centre of the bar and sliding it one way or another. If you have placed a sequence instead of a single frame, then the length of the viewing bar will either cut off the sequence or leave the last image sitting until the Current Time Marker has gone past.

The composition bar is a grey line under the timeline and this dictates the entire length of the animation, and can be lengthened or shortened in the same way as the object length. I started to try the program fully to create a card for Christmas. I had a lot of trouble getting used to the way the two programs work, but eventually realised the difference had been staring me in the face all the time. In the manual the first thing you are told is that you are dealing with an object-based program and you must concentrate on the stage and not the timeline but this was my only real stumbling block, and once comprehended, made things much easier.

I ran out of time and had to send just an email photo because the Shockwave Flash (SWF) file that I got completed just before midnight on Christmas day was too big. I decided to pull this apart and re-do the card as a New Year one, which makes sense to me. I took the same photo that I used for the email .jpg and set about altering it in a variety of ways. Not to make it a better card, just to try as many things in LiveMotion as I could. Here is what I did:

Timeline layers 1

Having made my photo to a reasonable size to keep file size down, I placed it on a new stage and set about altering it by applying a distort filter (quantize).

This changed the original image and made a keyframe in the layer dropdown box of the object. This keyframe fixes the image that has been placed and if you want it to stay the same for some time you will have to move the current time marker as many frames to the right as you want. This can be achieved by using the page up or page down keys to move one frame at a time. Now you can insert a new keyframe by placing the Current Time Marker at a particular point and then clicking in the little box to the right of the quantize line that has appeared below the layer drop-down box for that object.

timeline layers 2

If you want to apply a change to the object you can now move forward in the timeline and then apply a filter or action to the keyframe. The action can be applied by the menu box to the right of the desktop, and is just a matter of selecting the filter and then use sliders or the round symbol to apply the desired effect. When played back, the object should tween between the first and second keyframe giving a smooth action. After I applied two filters, quantize and twirl, I brought in a new image of the background photo and dragged a style from the presets onto it, this changed the entire look of the image. I had cut off the heads and applied a twirl filter to them in Photoshop. I applied an alpha channel to each layer of twirl so that when I placed the images in LiveMotion there was no background appearing. There are many ways to do this excercise but I wanted to see what happens when you place a sequence. Each of the layers was saved separately and numbered so they worked as I wanted.

layers overlapping

I just had to place the object in the position I wanted, which in this case was to have each object on a different body. I also put the objects to the back by selecting them and then arranging them. I then reduced the opacity of the photo layer so the spinning heads can just be seen. I also changed the photo by applying a lens filter to larger and then smaller and blended in yet another copy of the background image by using the layer opacity slider and a couple of keyframes and moved the heads to their respective bodies and removed them completely leaving just one photo layer.

Continued on Page 3 -->

--By Tim Skyrme

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