Final Cut Pro: How To Create Keyframed Motion Paths in the Canvas

Using the Canvas, you can create keyframed motion paths. Motion paths allows you to create motion for a clip by repositioning the playhead in the Canvas. The Canvas makes creating motion paths easy, because it will automatically create new keyframes every time you move the Canvas playhead and the clip's wireframe. Before you can begin creating keyframed motion paths in the Canvas, you will need to ensure that you are in Image+Wireframe mode. You can use other modes, but the Image+Wireframe mode is the easiest mode to use.

Opening the Clip

To begin creating keyframed motion paths, you will need to first open the clip that you want the motion path to go in the Viewer. Once the clip is opened in the Viewer, click on the Motion tab. You will then need to open the Canvas and choose whichever wireframe mode that you want from the View menu.

Creating a Motion Path Starting Point

With the Canvas still open and active, position the playhead over the exact location of where you want the keyframed motion path to begin. Via the Tool palette, select the Selection tool. Using the Selection tool, drag the center point of the clip so that it is positioned at the exact location of where you want the motion path to begin.

Creating a Keyframe

You will then need to create a keyframe at the starting point of the motion path. This can be done by selecting the Add Motion Keyframe button in the Video tab. Once the keyframe has been created, you will need to reposition the playhead in the exact location of where you want your next keyframe. You will also need to drag the clip to that exact location in the Canvas. Final Cut Pro will automatically create your next keyframe. You can continue to repeat these steps until you have added all of the keyframes that you need for your motion path.

Bezier Handles

A Bezier point is created each and every time you add a keyframe to a motion path. Instead of leaving corner points in the motion path, you can use the Smooth Point tool to add Bezier handles. Bezier handles will add curvature to your motion path. An advantage of using Bezier handles is that you will not need to use as many keyframes to create a complex motion path.

It is very easy to add Bezier handles to a keyframe in a motion path. All you have to do is open the Tool palette and select the Smooth Point tool. You can also access the the Smooth Point tool by pressing the P key 3 times. With the the Smooth Point tool selected, simply click on any corner point within your motion path, and Bezier handles will automatically be inserted.

Using the Bezier handles, you can also change the shape of a motion path. This can be done by dragging the Bezier handles until you have created a shape that fits your needs. While you are dragging the Bezier handles, you can also change the shape of the curve. 

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