Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member

Exploring spatial keyframes

From: After Effects Apprentice 02: Basic Animation

Video: Exploring spatial keyframes

Now earlier in this lesson, you animated the snowflake along a curve, but I thought it'd be useful to give you a better, guided tour of how the different keyframes work in the Comp panel. The position keyframe in the Comp panel, by the way, is called a spatial keyframe. Spatial simply means space. It has a value on X and Y, unlike say Opacity, which has a value in percent. When I turn on the stopwatch for Position and create the first keyframe and, then I will go to a later point in time and I'll move the Snowflake, it might look like After Effects creates motion paths in a straight line.

Exploring spatial keyframes

Now earlier in this lesson, you animated the snowflake along a curve, but I thought it'd be useful to give you a better, guided tour of how the different keyframes work in the Comp panel. The position keyframe in the Comp panel, by the way, is called a spatial keyframe. Spatial simply means space. It has a value on X and Y, unlike say Opacity, which has a value in percent. When I turn on the stopwatch for Position and create the first keyframe and, then I will go to a later point in time and I'll move the Snowflake, it might look like After Effects creates motion paths in a straight line.

So you might think if I make a third keyframe and drag it over here, this would be a straight line, but it's not. The middle keyframe--actually all of the keyframes--are defaulting to Auto Bezier keyframes, Auto meaning automatic. You can think of it like After Effects is making an automatic curve. Now where does it get this curve from? Well, you see there is two dots to the left and right of the keyframe, and you can tell that's an Auto Bezier keyframe because it doesn't have visible handles, and the orientation of that handle is determined by the position of the keyframe before and after.

For instance, if you look at this keyframe and the third keyframe, and you drew a line between them, this line would be parallel to the line between these two dots. If that's not clear, let me show you a couple of other examples. If I move these two keyframes so now the first and last keyframe is making a vertical line, these two dots are also making a vertical line. I could also make it diagonal. It doesn't matter what I do, no matter where I put the first and last keyframe, these handles automatically curve around to make this curve.

Now, let's change the keyframe type. Let's say I take one of these dots and I click on it. Now I have visible handles. This is called a continuous Bezier keyframe. Now I like to say it doesn't so much called as its behavior. As you can see, it's just kind of like a seesaw. I can adjust one handle independently of the other, but not the angle. They always stay connected in a continuous line. But if you break the handles, you will have control over both sides independently.

To break the handles, I will use the Pen tool. If you click on the Pen tool, you will see the options available: Pen tool, Add Vertex tool--add points in other words--Delete Vertex tool--or delete a point--and Convert Vertex tool. Check out the symbols for the Convert Vertex tool, because you will be seeing that when we start editing. Now I mentioned before that I don't really like to change tools because then I have to keep going back to the Selection tool. So you can use the Pen tool temporarily by just using its shortcut, and the shortcut again is G. So, if I want to break these handles, I simply press and hold down the G key, drag that handle, and then release the G key.

So you can see it goes back to the Selection tool. Now that the handles are broken, I have control over both sides independently. You will also see that the outgoing handle of the first keyframe is automatic, but I can drag that up and make a real keyframe. And if you can't quite see the dots, and you want to get the handle and you can't quite see where it is, here's a good little shortcut: On the Mac, press Command+ Option; On Windows, Ctrl+Alt. The keyframe itself is usually easy to see.

So click on the keyframe itself and just drag the handle out. So now I have handles that are broken. If I press the G key again, and click, I will now have continuous Bezier handles. Now sometimes you want to get rid of the handles completely, so you want to retract the handles. There is no need to pull them in and try to get them into that point; all you need to do is press G again and click on the keyframe itself. That will retract the handles. If I press G again, and click on the keyframe, we'll get back to the Automatic Bezier keyframes we started with.

So if you haven't tried this before, create at least three keyframes and concentrate on the one in the middle. There is your automatic keyframes, click and drag to get continuous, press G to break the handles. Now they are broken. Press G again if you want to make them continuous. Press G to retract and G to pop out the handles again. You can see it doesn't take very long to get this down, and it's something you are going to use over and over again in After Effects, not only to edit a motion path for position but also anchor point and maybe when moving a camera along a path.

The camera would use position keyframes. And you will also have handles when you are editing masks as well as shape layers. Now one more thing I wanted to point out is when you are moving along the path, you'll see these dots. I think we mentioned before that each dot is the position of the anchor point at each frame. If I press the G key as I move along the path, the cursor will change to the Add Vertex tool, and if I click, I will get a keyframe at that frame, which is back here somewhere, about frame 15.

Now this is unusual for After Effects because normally keyframes are always created at the current time, so whatever the time is in the timecode when you make a keyframe, that's where the keyframe would be. But this is one way where you can look at the motion path and say I need a keyframe right there, and you can just create it.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for After Effects Apprentice 02: Basic Animation
After Effects Apprentice 02: Basic Animation

29 video lessons · 31877 viewers

Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer
Author

 

Start learning today

Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.

Become a member
Sometimes @lynda teaches me how to use a program and sometimes Lynda.com changes my life forever. @JosefShutter
@lynda lynda.com is an absolute life saver when it comes to learning todays software. Definitely recommend it! #higherlearning @Michael_Caraway
@lynda The best thing online! Your database of courses is great! To the mark and very helpful. Thanks! @ru22more
Got to create something yesterday I never thought I could do. #thanks @lynda @Ngventurella
I really do love @lynda as a learning platform. Never stop learning and developing, it’s probably our greatest gift as a species! @soundslikedavid
@lynda just subscribed to lynda.com all I can say its brilliant join now trust me @ButchSamurai
@lynda is an awesome resource. The membership is priceless if you take advantage of it. @diabetic_techie
One of the best decision I made this year. Buy a 1yr subscription to @lynda @cybercaptive
guys lynda.com (@lynda) is the best. So far I’ve learned Java, principles of OO programming, and now learning about MS project @lucasmitchell
Signed back up to @lynda dot com. I’ve missed it!! Proper geeking out right now! #timetolearn #geek @JayGodbold
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.


Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ.

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Join now "Already a member? Log in

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.


Mark all as unwatched Cancel

Congratulations

You have completed After Effects Apprentice 02: Basic Animation.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


OK
Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member?

Become a member to like this course.

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses.

Get started

Already a member?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any lynda.com page and choose Site preferencesfrom the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Are you sure you want to delete this note?

No

Your file was successfully uploaded.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.


Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

   
submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.