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After Effect CS5 also includes several new ways of manipulating layers. Some are just some nice enhancements, some are a bit larger. For example, it mow has an Auto-Keyframe mode. How many of you have been intimidated by all those little keyframing stopwatches in After Effects or started removing a layer and realized you forgot to enable keyframing and it didn't remember anything that you did? Well there is an Auto-Keyframe mode now in After Effects, but there are some gotchas to using it. So let's take a look at it. Here I have a layer in After Effects and I've enabled its 3D Layer switch.
One of the challenges with 3D layers is that there is many different ways of defining rotation. If I press R to reveal the parameters, you'll see there's an Orientation parameter with three different numbers, and three different Rotation parameters, x, y, and z. All have an animation stopwatch. Now there is a Rotate tool in After Effects. W for a "rotate" is the shortcut, I'm not making this up, and you can go ahead and orient the object in 3D space. But what parameters change Orientation or Rotation is affected by yet another popup.
For example, if I undo and change Set to Rotation instead of Orientation, now a different set of values get altered down in the Timeline panel as I try to orient this layer, the way that I want t pose it. So you can see how easy it is for an After Effects user, particularly one without much experience, to become confused. Which of those stopwatches do you enable to keyframe this move? There's four of them. Now what numbers you are editing depends on yet another popup. And what happens quite often is people say, "here is one pose, I'm happy with that." Let's go a bit later in time, and I'm going to go ahead and make another pose.
Hit End to end my workspace, RAM Preview and I forgot to enable keyframing, and it's just to my end pose. It didn't remember anything. And that's what Auto-Keyframe mode is designed to help prevent. It's a new icon down in the Timeline panel, right here. You click it, it turns red, and it has the nickname the Big Red Button, or BRB for short. Once you've enabled the Auto-Keyframe switch, you no longer need to worry about enabling keyframing for individual parameters.
Instead, you just go ahead, pose your layer the way that you like, go later in time, change to the other pose that you like, press N for my work area, RAM Preview, and now it's remembered my rotational move without me having to do much or to think much really. I just enabled the Big Red Button and let After Effects do the work. Okay, that said, there are a couple of gotchas to using Auto-Keyframe mode. I'm going to Undo to get back to where I was. The wrong way to use Auto-Keyframe mode is to pose, then enable, then go later in time, and pose again.
You'll notice I only have keyframes for that second point in time. I don't have keyframes for the earlier point in time. That's because when you enable Auto- Keyframe mode, it does not create any keyframes at that point. It does not take a snapshot of the current state of the layer. So instead the correct workflow is first enable Auto-Keyframe mode, then pose. And once you do that, it will create the keyframes.
Now I can go later in time, create my second pose, and now it's remembered keyframes for both of my positions, not just the second set of positions. So Auto-Keyframe mode only works after you've enabled it. It seems to make sense but it's an easy thing to miss. There is one other thing to know about Auto-Keyframe mode. It's not per composition, it's per project. So I was to go on and open up another comp and start working there, the Big Red Button is still enabled.
And you might just start arranging objects in a layer, not wanting to keyframe, but actually be creating keyframes because the Auto-Keyframe mode has been enabled. Therefore the other thing to remember about Auto-Keyframe mode is when you're done, turn it off. That way it won't effect what you go on to do in other compositions.
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