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Exploring Boris Reds new Motion Path filter

COW Library : Boris FX Tutorials : John Lafauce Jr. : Exploring Boris Reds new Motion Path filter
A CreativeCOW Boris RED Tutorial

John Lafauce: Exploring Boris Red's new Motion Path filter

John Lafauce Jr.,

©2006 John Lafauce and

Article Focus:
This tutorial by John Lafauce demonstrates how to easily animate and fly a computer generated navy jet using the Boris Red 4.0 Motion Path filter.

download project footage and final movie here

Media for Tutorial

  • Jetv1.tga (RGBA, 8 bit still image)
  • (RGB, 8 bit movie)


Preparing Boris Red 4.0 for your media


Step 1.  Open your Project Settings window.



Step 2:  Set up your project by selecting options specific to the media you will be working with.  This tutorial’s media will be:

  • Project size = 720x486 NTSC D1
  • Video Aspect = 4:3 Aspect Ratio
  • FPS = 29.97
  • Duration = (Can be entered here but I prefer to enter it in the Timeline window, which I will do later in this section)
  • Alpha Channel = Straight
  • Color Depth = 8 bit


Step 3:  When you are finished setting up your project, click OK to accept and exit Project Settings.

Note:  In the Project Settings, we told Boris Red 4.0 our media contains an alpha channel that is ‘Straight Alpha’ at 4:3 Aspect Ratio.  That would be fine if our Jetv1.tga element was a movie clip, but it is a still image and it needs to be addressed separately in the Preferences.


Step 4:  Go to Edit > Preferences and click on the Import tab.  Under Still Import Defaults;

  1. Set Alpha Channel to Straight Alpha so Boris Red interprets your alpha information correctly 
  2. Set Aspect to 4:3 Aspect Ratio
  3. Click OK to exit Preferences



If you are not sure which alpha setting corresponds to your RGBA media, re-import the media while trying each alpha setting until you find the one that displays the cleanest looking edges.  Users often erode and blur matte edges unnecessarily because there is a visible “matte line” around their object due to incorrect alpha import settings, e.g. – Their prefs may be set to Pre-multiplied White or Black when in fact their media is Straight Alpha.


Importing your media


Step 5:  In the Timeline window:

  1. Select the Change Track Media icon (V1) for the Video 1 track
  2. Choose Still Image File from the menu list (a dialogue window appears)
  3. Navigate to the Motion Path Tutorial folder, select Jetv1.tga and click Open.



Now let’s import the background.


Step 6:  In the Duration field of the Timeline, enter 516 to accommodate the length of the background, which in timecode view = :05;16.


Step 7:  In the Timeline window, select the Change Track Media icon (V2) for the Video 2 track and choose Movie File from the menu.  A dialogue window appears.

Step 8:  Select the clip and click Open.

In the Comp window, you should see the unadjusted composite of a computer generated navy jet against the San Francisco skyline.


Now would be a good opportunity to save your project you just created.


Step 9:  Go to menu File > Save Project, and name your project as you wish.



Applying the Boris Red Motion Path filter


Step 10:

  1. Select the Jetv1.tga track in the Timeline
  2. Go to the menu:  Filters > Motion
  3. Select Motion Path




The Motion Path filter gets applied to the jet still image.



Step 11:  In the Timeline window, expand the Motion Path track.



Its nested tracks are revealed. 


Step 12:  Select the Path track.



The Pen tool in the Tool window becomes selected by default.



You can also use the Pencil tool, which allows you to draw a freeform spline instead.


Step 13:  Hit the Home Key on your keyboard to go to the first frame of the sequence.


Step 14:  Using the Pen tool, draw a spline beginning from the left middle edge of frame across the image to the right middle edge of frame in the Comp window.



Your spline path should curve slightly upward across the image.


Notice how the jet automatically positioned itself on the new location designated by the first spline point of the path.



How to make the jet fly


Our goal is to animate the movement of the jet so that it emerges from the left and rises subtly as it cruises along its flight path.

Note:  Boris Red’s default interpolation is set to Ease In/Out - meaning all keyframed parameters will globally exhibit this interpolation unless we specifically change a parameter to something else.  Since Ease In/Out is the best choice for providing smooth, natural looking animation, we will make sure it is set to that.


Step 15:  To change or confirm your interpolation, go to menu Window > Show Keyframe Palette.

Step 16:  The Default Interpolation should be set to Ease In/Out.




Step 17:  Close Keyframe Palette.

Step 18:  Select the Motion Path track in the Timeline window.

Step 19:  Go to the Controls window > Motion On Path tab and enter a value of 25 in the degrees field of the On Path Motion parameter.  (Its interpolation field should automatically display as Ease In/Out)




Note:  Entering a higher value of degrees may make it appear as if your jet is flying too fast and erratically depending on how much of a curve you made in your Motion Path spline.  You may want to experiment with varying amounts of degrees until you achieve a motion that suits you.


Step 20:  Hit the End key on your keyboard to advance to the last frame of the sequence.

Step 21:  Enter a value of 180 degrees for On Path Motion.

Now would be a good opportunity to preview your animation to see how it is progressing.

Step 22:  PTR (preview-to-RAM) the effect by selecting Preview To Ram in the Preview menu or type Ctrl+0 on your keyboard.

The playback should show the jet gradually fly into frame and rise subtly along its flight path.  Let’s make the plane’s angle upward a bit more dramatic near the end of the effect.

Step 23:  Stop the playback and hit the End key on your keyboard to advance to the last frame of the sequence.

Step 24:  In the Controls window, enter a value of minus 4 degrees for the Angle To Path parameter.  (The interpolation should display as Ease In/Out)




Smoothing out the bumps

When you previewed your animation, if your jet’s flight was a little bumpy, you can smoothen out the spline points along your motion path.

Step 25:  One way to do this is; select the Spline Object 1 track (nested in the Path track) in the Timeline window.




Make sure your CTI is on the first frame.


Step 26:  While holding down the Shift key on your keyboard, select each spline point that you want to affect.



Step 27:  Go to the Tools menu and select > Smooth Points.

Note:  If further smoothing is required, you can manually adjust each spline point by their Bezier handles.

Step 28:  Preview the effect by selecting Preview to Ram in the Preview menu or type Ctrl+0 on your keyboard.


Repositioning the jet


When previewing our comp, the jet appears to be flying a bit low in frame.  Let’s raise it higher so it doesn’t clip any buildings.

Step 29:  Stop the playback and hit the End key on your keyboard to advance to the last frame of the sequence.

Step 30:  Select the Jetv1.tga track in the Timeline.

Step 31:  In the Position tab of the Controls window, change Position Y to 73.58.



Step 32:  Make sure the Position Y interpolation is set to Constant so the jet will remain at a consistent height.


Finishing Touches

Motion blur can be applied to your jet as well as the background to give the jet’s swoop down over the city some added realism.

Step 33:  Select the Toggle Motion Blur button on the Jetv1.tga track.



To motion blur the background, we have two filter options that will achieve this effect and they are located in the menu Filters > Colors and Blurs category:


  • BCC Motion Blur (new in Boris Red 4)


  • BCC Directional Blur



Step 34:  Select the track in the Timeline and apply either the BCC Motion Blur or BCC Directional Blur filter to it.  (Since BCC Motion Blur is slated for a future tutorial of its own, we will be using the BCC Directional Blur).

Step 35:  In the Controls window parameters of the BCC Directional Blur tab, enter a Blur Amount of 7, set to Constant interpolation.  All other parameters keep at default.

Render your composition 

If you are satisfied with your comp, let’s name it and render it.

Step 36:  Go to menu Composition > Rename Composition.

A dialogue window appears.

Step 37:  Name your comp as you wish.  I named mine:  Motion Path Jetv1.

Step 38:  Click the Add Composition to Render Queue button in the bottom right of the Comp window.


The Movie Export Settings dialogue window appears where you can enter your export options.




Step 39:  After you’ve entered your desired export settings; click OK to close the window.

Note:  Don’t forget to double-check your Export Preferences to make sure they match these settings.

Step 40:  Select the Render Queue tab in the Project Window.



Step 41:  Make sure your comp thumbnail is highlighted (it will be defaulted aqua-blue in color) and hit the Render Now button at the bottom of the Render Queue window.




Step 42:  Specify an export folder if you haven’t done so and click OK.


The render begins and you are done.



For more detailed information on the features covered in this tutorial, please refer to the Boris documentation that came with your product.  If you are new to Red 4 and would like to learn more about this software, please visit:

John Lafauce Jr. is a veteran visual effects artist and compositor who has worked on over thirty feature films for companies in Hollywood such as Sony Pictures Imageworks, Rhythm and Hues, and Pacific Title.  He currently works in quality assurance for Boris FX in Massachusetts, helping to develop graphics and effects software plug-ins for the broadcast and post production industries.Feel free to read John's other articles on digital effects:

A Boris Continuum Complete AVX in Avid tutorial here:

"How to Become a Feature Film Compositor" here:




Feel free to ask questions about this tutorial in our Boris FX forum at

Click here for more information Boris RED

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