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How To Create a 5 Minute Countdown Video with Apple Motion 5 (Easy)


We use countdown videos every week at STORYCHURCH to count down to the beginning of the service. Up until now I had been using some free green screen videos I found online and merging it with our series graphics each time. This has worked well, but had it’s limitations as I was restricted to the font face, size and position of the green screen video counter.

I’ve been thinking about buying Apple Motion 5 for a while and finally picked it up yesterday. With Apple Motion, we can create our very own fully customized countdowns!

It took me a few hours to find the best (and most efficient) way to do a basic countdown. If there’s a better approach, please let me know.

1) Create a Motion project.

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We are creating videos for a projector display with a 4:3 ratio (1024×768). If you are following this tutorial in Motion, you can select the preset type you need, it doesn’t affect the outcome. Adjust the project duration to 5 mins and click Open.

2) Add a Text Generator

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In the library, go to Generators, select a File Generator and drag it into the main project group.

When I began researching how to do this in Motion, I found multiple videos that recommended using a Timecode Generator with a Ramp behavior. I tried that for my first video (in fact we used it this morning at STORYCHURCH), but I wasn’t happy with it as I couldn’t figure out how to format the timecode, and also could not get it to play in reverse properly. In the end, I had to export the video from Motion and run it through iMovie to export it in reverse.

3) Load source file

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I created my source text file in Numbers (any spreadsheet application would work).

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In the spreadsheet, create the first two entries, highlight and drag the yellow triangle thingy through the 300 rows. I then copied and pasted the data into a plain text file and saved it to my desktop. Here is my copy to save you time.

Before arriving at this finished text file I tried a number of different approaches. On my first attempt, I created a file which included hundreds of a second (e.g. 5:00:00). This resulted in a file with 180,000 rows and seemed to work well up until half way through when Motion stopped reading the file. I then tried splitting the file into two and adding two File Generator objects to the project. This created some issues as well (flickering). Finally, I decided to stick to only minutes and seconds and ended up with a file of 300 rows only. Motion had no issues with this at all.

4) Format The Countdown

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Select a style for the countdown from the inspector dialog.

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Since we’re creating this countdown for green screen use, add a green background and ensure you select “solid” for the background property. The green screen color is #00FF00 (Hex), or 0,255,0 (Rgb).

5) Export The Movie!

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The movie came out around 500mb. Using Handbrake, I reduced the filesize to 1.3mb. I use Handbrake for every movie I create for ProPresenter or YouTube.

You now have a countdown movie ready for import into iMovie. I will create another tutorial on that part soon.


Right click on the following links to download.