After Effects CS6 Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Getting started with animation and keyframes


After Effects CS6 Essential Training

with Ian Robinson

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Video: Getting started with animation and keyframes

Adobe After Effects has become the go- to industry standard when it comes to creating engaging and interesting animations. And if you want to become a proficient and talented animator, you'll need to understand and master keyframe animation. Some might say, you need to be uber-familiar with keyframes. Just remember that a keyframe records the current state of a parameter at that specific point in time in the timeline. The animation is created when there are at least two different keyframes applied to that one parameter. So let me show you what I'm talking about.
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  1. 1m 8s
    1. What is After Effects?
      1m 8s
  2. 2m 53s
    1. Welcome
      1m 40s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 13s
  3. 1h 8m
    1. The six foundations of AE
      5m 3s
    2. Introducing the interface and the workspace
      7m 51s
    3. Understanding compositions
      8m 48s
    4. Getting comfortable with layers
      7m 33s
    5. Getting started with animation and keyframes
      8m 30s
    6. Understanding effects
      3m 26s
    7. Moving in 3D space
      7m 41s
    8. Rendering your first animation
      8m 20s
    9. Specifying preferences and cache settings
      5m 44s
    10. Staying organized
      5m 15s
  4. 38m 6s
    1. Creating compositions
      7m 19s
    2. Importing footage and compositions
      7m 54s
    3. Preparing compositions for animation
      8m 7s
    4. Introducing renderers
      3m 15s
    5. Understanding precomposing
      7m 16s
    6. Relinking missing footage
      4m 15s
  5. 59m 58s
    1. Defining layers
      6m 23s
    2. Creating type
      5m 58s
    3. Creating layer solids and shapes with masks
      7m 55s
    4. Building shape layers
      6m 17s
    5. Understanding switches and blend modes
      8m 26s
    6. Crafting custom shapes and masks
      6m 18s
    7. Creating variable-width feathered masks
      5m 1s
    8. Rotoscoping with the Roto Brush
      8m 20s
    9. Refining with the Roto Brush
      5m 20s
  6. 1h 8m
    1. Understanding keyframes
      6m 1s
    2. Adding and adjusting keyframes
      9m 54s
    3. Interpolating keyframes
      8m 5s
    4. Adjusting keyframes in the Graph Editor
      7m 17s
    5. Understanding positional keyframes
      7m 0s
    6. Controlling animation with parenting and the pick whip
      9m 57s
    7. Understanding animation paths
      6m 27s
    8. Timing to audio
      4m 41s
    9. Trimming and sliding edits
      5m 31s
    10. Swapping images
      4m 1s
  7. 29m 7s
    1. Layering multiple effects
      9m 13s
    2. Generating graphic effects with adjustment layers
      7m 28s
    3. Building backgrounds with effects
      6m 50s
    4. Creating animated strokes
      5m 36s
  8. 40m 16s
    1. Introducing cameras
      10m 3s
    2. Working with 3D layers
      6m 37s
    3. Positioning layers
      6m 13s
    4. Adding lights and working with Material Options
      9m 22s
    5. Using 3D precompositions
      2m 5s
    6. Adjusting depth of field
      5m 56s
  9. 28m 31s
    1. Caching and prerendering
      6m 33s
    2. Understanding the alpha channels
      5m 18s
    3. Using the Render Queue
      4m 34s
    4. Rendering with Adobe Media Encoder
      7m 15s
    5. Archiving finished projects
      4m 51s
  10. 44m 28s
    1. Creating type animators
      12m 17s
    2. Animating type in 3D space
      6m 35s
    3. Adding and animating type on a path
      8m 45s
    4. Composing 3D type
      8m 41s
    5. Animating shape layers
      8m 10s
  11. 32m 45s
    1. Creating stylized video
      6m 47s
    2. Retiming video footage
      9m 31s
    3. Retouching with the Rubber Stamp tool
      10m 19s
    4. Smoothing shaky camera footage
      6m 8s
  12. 14m 20s
    1. Understanding keying
      3m 19s
    2. Creating a garbage mask
      4m 27s
    3. Getting started with Keylight
      6m 34s
  13. 15m 57s
    1. Importing Photoshop documents
      6m 11s
    2. Importing Illustrator files
      4m 25s
    3. Working With Premiere Pro projects
      5m 21s
  14. 1h 15m
    1. Adjusting ray-tracing quality
      8m 19s
    2. Tracking footage
      8m 16s
    3. Extruding shapes
      8m 40s
    4. Bending layers
      8m 39s
    5. Adjusting ray-traced lighting and materials
      9m 22s
    6. Adding environment maps
      4m 58s
    7. Beginning compositing
      8m 52s
    8. Creating render passes
      10m 17s
    9. Building a final composite
      8m 14s
  15. 1m 8s
    1. What's next
      1m 8s

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Watch the Online Video Course After Effects CS6 Essential Training
8h 41m Beginner May 07, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, author Ian Robinson introduces Adobe After Effects CS6 and the world of animation, effects, and compositing. Chapter 1 introduces the six foundations of After Effects, which include concepts like layers, keyframes, rendering, and moving in 3D space. The rest of the course expands on these ideas, and shows how to build compositions with layers, perform rotoscoping, animate your composition with keyframes, add effects and transitions, and render and export the finished piece. Two real-world example projects demonstrate keying green screen footage and creating an advanced 3D composition with the expanded 3D toolset, an important addition to CS6.

Topics include:
  • Setting up the workspace, important preferences, and the cache
  • Importing footage and comps
  • Relinking missing footage
  • Creating type, shape layers, and masks
  • Rotoscoping with the Roto Brush
  • Adjusting keyframes in the Graph Editor
  • Timing animations to audio
  • Building backgrounds with effects
  • Rendering with the Render Queue and Adobe Media Encoder
  • Animating 3D type
  • Smoothing shaky footage and retouching footage
  • Keying green screen footage
  • Working with 3D: extruding shapes, adding ray-traced lighting, and more
After Effects
Ian Robinson

Getting started with animation and keyframes

Adobe After Effects has become the go- to industry standard when it comes to creating engaging and interesting animations. And if you want to become a proficient and talented animator, you'll need to understand and master keyframe animation. Some might say, you need to be uber-familiar with keyframes. Just remember that a keyframe records the current state of a parameter at that specific point in time in the timeline. The animation is created when there are at least two different keyframes applied to that one parameter. So let me show you what I'm talking about.

In our project here, notice in the Project panel if double-click our Animation comp here, we have a composition that has several different layers. I'm just scrolling up and down on my mouse to scroll through the layers. Here we have the words of the logo broken out into pre-compositions, and we can just go ahead and turn those off for now because we're going to focus on animating these shapes here. So let's actually zoom in on the canvas. I'm going to scroll in on my scroll wheel up to about 200% and then I'll press the Spacebar to toggle to my Hand tool here and just kind of move over.

And actually now, let's go back to 100%, there we go. Make sure you position your canvas so you can see the shapes but also on the left here you can see the edge of the canvas, because we want to animate this first circle to start from off screen and scroll right into its position. In order to start animating this, we should select this layer. I could do this by clicking on the canvas directly on the object or by going down to Layer 4 and selecting it. When it comes to adding keyframes, you want to add them to specific parameters.

If we open the disclosure triangle for Layer 4, notice we have all of these different transform properties. Since I know I'm dealing specifically with position, I'm going to save some real estate here and just press the letter P on my keyboard. See that way I can still see all these other layers. That way if we wanted to animate these other layers, we could easily do that and not have to resize the interface. With this layer selected, I'm going to show you a little animation trick. Since all of the graphics are actually already in the position we want them to appear in, we're going to animate backwards.

So move your current-time indicator right here on your timeline on the right-hand side here. If I click and drag, let's move it to around 2 seconds. I know I'm at 2 seconds because it actually pop-ups over here on the left side of my timeline. To create the first keyframe, you want to press the stopwatch next to the Position parameter. I want you to note: The first time you press the stopwatch is pretty much the only time you want to press the stopwatch when it comes to setting your keyframes, and I'll explain why in a second.

If we go ahead and click the stopwatch, notice we've added a keyframe. It appears here in the timeline. Now since we already have a keyframe on this parameter, anytime you move your current-time indicator anywhere else in the timeline, like let's say back to frame zero here. If I change the position of this object, by, let's say, going up to the comp and clicking on it and dragging, notice now, automatically no matter where I drag it I'm getting a couple of different things happening. First thing you'll see these dots and this line.

This is called my Animation Path. Let's drag it over here to the left-hand side. Second thing you'll notice, here is my keyframe in the timeline. Now I have two keyframes, and therefore I have animation. Now to preview the animation what you want to do is press 0 on your keypad. You notice my animation loaded up, and my current-time indicator is currently moving. I'm going to press the Spacebar to stop it and I want to show you something. See, by default, whenever you load up a RAM preview, it's going to preview in your preview range.

The preview range is currently set to 10 seconds which is the length of this whole composition. So let's move our current-time indicator down to around 3 seconds and press N; N is for the end of your playback range. Now if I press 0 on my keypad, you'll notice sure enough, it's going to preview only the first 3 seconds of the animation. Again, press the Spacebar to stop playback. If you notice, I'm getting a slight little drift on this animation because I clicked and dragged and it's not exactly perfectly straight.

And that was because, I just visually started clicking and dragging. So what I'm going to do is delete this first keyframe. Now to delete keyframes, it's pretty straightforward. All you'll do is select individual keyframe and press Delete on your keyboard. Now you notice since there's only one keyframe there's no animation. If I scrub in the timeline you won't see any animation. Let me just Command+Z to undo that last deleted keyframe. Another way to delete keyframes is to click on the stopwatch but look what happens. If I click on the stopwatch, all the keyframes are deleted.

Now when you delete all the keyframes, wherever your current-time indicator is at that point in time, is where that object is going to stay. So let's just Command+Z, undo that, and since I only want to delete the first keyframe, I'm just clicking off of both the keyframes so none of them are highlighted, I'm going to select the first keyframe and press Delete. If I press Home to move my playhead back to the beginning of the timeline now instead of clicking and dragging directly on the object in the canvas, I'm going to click and drag on the X axis parameter.

So this is X, this is Y. So now when it's all the way off the canvas, it's off-screen and the animation will animate properly. Now there's one last thing I want to show you about this, it's these little dots here. Notice these dots are all evenly spaced. What these are telling me is the velocity at which this object is moving. This is spatial interpolation, which we'll get to in a little bit. But right now, I just wanted you to note that these little things are here and they're actually showing us something. This is going to move at a constant rate because this is two linear keyframes in the timeline.

I'll get to what linear means and spatial interpolation, all that stuff in a little bit, but for now let's preview this animation. Again press 0 on your keyboard to preview the animation. And press the Spacebar when you're finished. Now that you know how to add keyframes and delete keyframes, I'm just going to show you some other little quick commands you can use when you actually start having keyframes in your project. So the first one is navigation.

If you want to move back and forth between keyframes, look on the left side of your timeline. See these arrows? If I click this left arrow here, see how it's slightly brighter than the one on the right? If I click on that it's going to move my current-time indicator up towards the beginning of the timeline. Now you notice I can't click anymore because there are no more keyframes. If I click to the right, now it's going to move to the next keyframe. You want to be careful when the current-time indicator isn't on a keyframe because if you click this button right here in the middle, it adds another keyframe based on what the current parameter setting is for that specific object.

Since we didn't move anything, it's just the same as this previous keyframe. So I'll just go ahead and delete that. So for navigation, use the arrows in your timeline. You can also use keyboard shortcuts. K will move you down the timeline and J moves you up the timeline. One last thing to understand is the uber key. Remember, I said understanding animation is uber-helpful? Well basically that's because the uber key, it's what I call it, starts with the letter U, and whenever you select any layer that has animation on it, if you press the u key, it will toggle the visibility of any parameter that has animation.

Keyframe animation or otherwise, it's going to show you every parameter that's been animated for that specific layer that you have selected. I want to stress that keyframing is most definitely not the only way to make an object move around inside of After Effects. You can use other things like parenting or expressions but those things are for another time. Right now, you should just focus on remembering where to look for keyframes in the timeline and remember, understanding keyframes is uber-helpful when trying to create animation.

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