Larry Jordan: Motion 5 – Simulations Are Fascinating Fun

by Larry Jordan

Motion simulations are an effect that hasn’t yet appeared in Final Cut Pro X, which means you may not know they exist. But, they can create fascinating effects and are endlessly fun to play with.

Here’s how they work.


First, I created a Group – called “Star” – into which I dragged Particle Emitters > Pyro > Corona.

NOTE: Or, if you want to keep this simple, draw a simple yellow circle. I just thought I’d be a bit more fancy here.

To turn this particle emitter into a burning star:

  • Place a yellow shape under the particle emitter
  • Crop it using a circular mask to slightly overfill the black area of the Corona
  • Feather the edge of the circular mask in Inspector > Mask
  • Apply a Screen blend mode to the Corona effect to blend the edges (Inspector > Properties > Blend Mode)

Create a second Group and place it above the Star Group.

  • Create a meteor using Library > Content > Particle Images > Drop02.

NOTE: In the screen shot above, I rotated the Drop, but, as you’ll see, this isn’t really necessary.

Next, apply Filters > Color > Gradient Color to the Drop, then change the colors to make it look like the Drop is a burn meteor. Gradient color allows us to use two colors, which is more interesting than a simple, single color. Adjust colors using the color chips on the bottom of this gradient color picker.

Select the Drop:

  • Apply Behaviors > Simulations > Orbit Around

Play the timeline and watch what happens. The meteor circles the star.

Now, increase the Drag setting in Orbit Around, this sets the meteor spiraling into the star.

Finally, apply Behaviors > Simulations > Align to Motion (Simulation). This aligns the meteor to turn in the direction of its orbit.

Play the project and have fun tweaking!

NOTE: There are lots of things you can do to spice this up. For example, add a blend mode to the meteor, a particle star field in the background or add other planets in the foreground.

To make this really interesting, apply Behavior > Basic Motion > Throw to the Star Background group and watch how the meteor behaves as the star moves across the screen.


Create a new project.

  • Add Particle Emitters > Pyro > Camp Fire to the project.
  • Apply Inspector > Properties > Blend Mode > Hard Light to the group that contains Camp Fire. The blend mode makes the fire translucent to allow us to see images behind it.

NOTE: In this example, I stretched the group horizontally to expand the width of the flames.

Select the Camp Fire group in the Layers panel and apply:

  • Behaviors > Simulations > Wind
  • Behaviors > Simulations > Vortex

Here are the settings I used for these two Behaviors.

NOTE: Feel free to adjust the settings during playback to make the flames dance the way you would like.

Here’s what it looks like.


Here’s an effect where one object repels other objects. Create a new project with two Groups (feel free to use your own titles):

  • Cloud of Dust
  • Star Field

In Star Field:

  • Drag Library > Particle Emitters > SciFi > Star Travel into the group
  • Apply Filters > Colorize. You can change or modify the color of the stars as you see fit.
  • Temporarily, hide this layer by unchecking the checkbox to the left of the name of the group.

In Cloud of Dust:

  • Drag Library > Particle Emitters > Dream Bubbles into the group
  • Position the emitter on the right side of the screen
  • Using the HUD, set the emitter so it sends bubbles into the frame from the right
  • Optionally, change Life to 5 so the bubbles last longer
  • Optionally, set Speed to 100 so they move faster

Next, also in Cloud of Dust, let’s create the Starship:

  • Drag Library > Content > Particle Images > Pattern01 into the group
  • Apply Filters > Colorize and change the color to something other than white
  • Apply Behaviors > Basic Motion > Throw to make the Starship move
  • Optionally, apply Behaviors > Spin because, why not? Spinning Starships look cooler.

Read the rest at



About James DeRuvo 801 Articles
Editor in Chief at doddleNEWS. James has been a writer and editor at doddleNEWS for nearly a decade. As a producer/director/writer James won a Telly Award in 2005 for his Short Film "Searching for Inspiration. James is a recovering talk show producer from KABC in Los Angeles, and a weekly guest on the Digital Production Buzz with Larry Jordan.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.