New Feature: Playlist Center! Pick a topic and let our playlists guide the way.

Start learning with our library of video tutorials taught by experts. Get started

After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced Animation
Illustration by John Hersey

Navigating the Graph Editor


From:

After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced Animation

with Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer

Video: Navigating the Graph Editor

In this chapter, we're going to focus on the most powerful tool in After Effects to help refine your animations, the Graph Editor. First I'm going to clear my display by re-docking the Layer panel into the Comp panel and closing all my previous compositions. And if you have the files that came with this lesson, go ahead and open up Comp 03-Graph Editor*starter. I'm going to press 0 on the numeric keypad to RAM-preview this. It will take a while to cache up. And you might recognize this from the After Effects Apprentice: Basic Animation lesson. At this stage, we've entered all of our keyframes, but you might notice that the movements are a bit jerky. For example, the snowflake just kind of plops into place, the title comes up and just suddenly stops.

Watch this entire course now—plus get access to every course in the library. Each course includes high-quality videos taught by expert instructors.

Become a member
please wait ...
After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced Animation
3h 1m Beginner Jan 26, 2011 Updated Nov 12, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, Chris Meyer helps beginning After Effects artists take their animations to the next level. Chris shows how to refine animations to create elegant, coordinated movements with the minimum number of keyframes—as well as slam-downs, whip pans, and other attention-getters. Additional movies show how to reverse-engineer existing animations, create variations on a theme, and master other parts of the program. Even though this course is designed for beginners, even veterans should learn tricks that many experienced users are unaware of. Chris' friendly running commentary lets you in on his mental process as he works on an animation. Exercise files are included with the course.

The After Effects Apprentice videos on lynda.com were created by Trish and Chris Meyer and are designed to be used on their own and as a companion to their book After Effects Apprentice. We are honored to host these tutorials in the lynda.com Online Training Library®.

Topics include:
  • Understanding how keyframes work under the hood
  • Controlling the Anchor Point to create more predictable animations
  • Mastering the Graph Editor for the ultimate control over keyframes
  • Animating parameters including motion paths
  • Hand-drawing motion paths to simplify complex movements
  • Applying and tweaking Motion Blur
  • Using Hold keyframes
Subjects:
Video Motion Graphics Visual Effects
Software:
After Effects
Authors:
Chris Meyer Trish Meyer

Navigating the Graph Editor

In this chapter, we're going to focus on the most powerful tool in After Effects to help refine your animations, the Graph Editor. First I'm going to clear my display by re-docking the Layer panel into the Comp panel and closing all my previous compositions. And if you have the files that came with this lesson, go ahead and open up Comp 03-Graph Editor*starter. I'm going to press 0 on the numeric keypad to RAM-preview this. It will take a while to cache up. And you might recognize this from the After Effects Apprentice: Basic Animation lesson. At this stage, we've entered all of our keyframes, but you might notice that the movements are a bit jerky. For example, the snowflake just kind of plops into place, the title comes up and just suddenly stops.

It could be refined, it could be more elegant, and that's what we're going to try to do in this chapter. I'll move ahead and stop the animation, do Command+A on Mac, Ctrl+A on Windows to select all my layers, and press U to reveal all of the keyframes. And note that all of the keyframes have this diamond icon. That diamond icon indicates a linear type keyframe. That reinforces why we're seeing such jerky animation. Linear keyframes have sudden starts, stops, and speed changes, and generally are not the most elegant animation you can create.

So let's refine them. I'm going to go ahead and open up the Graph Editor. The shortcut is to hold the Shift key and press F3, and initially I don't see anything. That's because I need various view preferences to decide what I do want to see. I'm going to go down here to choose which properties are shown, and for now I'm going to choose Show Animated Properties. That will show me everything that's keyframed or animating. Now a bunch of different lines and graphs appear. Currently it's showing all animated properties for all selected layers. I can go ahead and just select an individual layer to see just that layer's properties.

If I want to see more than one layer, I can Shift+click it to see that as well. But I'll go back to just Snowflake.mov for now. If there is a particular property you want to see all the time, regardless of whether or not the layer is selected, there is a nice little option called Graph Editor Sets. You can enable that also underneath this eyeball icon, underneath Show Graph Editor Set, and a set is enabled by clicking on this little graph icon between the animation stopwatch and the name of the property. Once you enable that, that set of parameters will always be visible, regardless of whether or not that layer is selected.

That's really good if you have a guide layer that has important timing that you want to synchronize other people to. You can leave it enabled all of the time, even as you work on other layers, but again, I'll just turn it off for now and select Snowflake.mov. You will notice that the parameters are color coded. For example, the Position values are in this pink color, this pink line, the Rotation is in this turquoise color--and there is its property graph--Opacity is in cyan-- there is its value--and then there is Scale. X is in red, Y is in green.

Since the two values are identical, the red graph is drawing on top of the green graph, and that's why you just see a red line over here in the Graph Editor. If I was to separate those by turning off the Constrain Proportions switch, I would see two independent graphs as their values diverge from each other. You can zoom and pan in time in the Timeline panel just as you would normally. For example, you can go ahead and move the corners of the Time navigator to look at just a segment of time and slide a segment of time through. I'll restore that.

I do have my little slider down here at the bottom to decide how much I'm zoomed in, and I can use the normal Plus or Minus keys to go ahead and zoom in and out, so that's pretty normal as well. Home and End keys still work as normal, and I still have my keyframe navigator. I can go ahead and move between the Position keyframes, move to the Rotation and keyframe, Opacity start keyframe, et cetera. Just be careful if you use the keyframe navigator for a property that isn't currently revealed; for example, I'll go to the next Snowstorm title Position keyframe, but because it's not actually selected, I can't see that keyframe. Select the layer.

Now, it makes a lot more sense. You can drag the Current Time Indicator, and again holding the Shift key makes it sticky, makes it want to snap to these different keyframes. And you can turn that snapping behavior on and off by clicking on this little magnet icon down at the bottom of the Graph Editor. And finally, if you come from using nonlinear editing systems, you can use the J and K keys to move earlier in time and back in time between keyframes. Another important thing you need to know about navigating the Graph Editor is how to zoom and pan in height to look at values.

A great default is to enable Auto-zoom graph height. That means it will always maximize the available height in your Timeline panel. I am going to go ahead and zoom on a smaller segment of time here. As I go ahead and pan around what time I'm looking at, you will see it automatically rescales as I'm looking at the smaller value range. I'll go back here and it rescales to show a wider value range. So the Auto Zoom behavior is really, really handy. On the other hand, if you find that this is getting in your way, you can turn that off and now manually pan around this.

One great shortcut is to hold down the Spacebar, then drag with your cursor. You can drag left and right in time and up and down and in the value range to see where your graphs are. If you have some specific values you want to focus on, temporarily hold down the Z key, the Zoom key, drag a marquee around the keyframes or value range you're interested in, release the mouse and the Z key, and it will automatically zoom to center that range. By the way, if you have a mouse with a scroll wheel, the scroll wheel will also move up and down the values in the Graph Editor.

If you hold down Option, it will also zoom in time. I'll double-click to see my whole Timeline again. One other really important zoom option, if you need to see even more resolution inside the Graph Editor, is the Tilde key. You might remember from After Effects Apprentice: Pre-Roll, the Tilde key maximizes a frame to take up the entire application window. This is where you get maximum resolution. However, it's at the cost of not seeing anything else, so personally I just leave things where they are. I just tap Tilde to go back to normal display, and I turn on the Auto Zoom Height to always maximize the amount of space I have available.

Next, let's get into what these different graphs actually mean and how to change what they're showing us.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced Animation.


Expand all | Collapse all
please wait ...
Q: How do I transition from one piece of animated type to another in After Effects?
A: There isn't an effect that can create these types of transitions. It's really a matter of animating the type and camera, using basic keyframing and positioning.
 
If you understand the basics of moving the anchor point of a type layer, animating the parameters of that layer (Scale, Rotation, Position, etc.) and then separately animating the camera around the type layers, you can achieve different types of transitions.  Check out the following videos for more information:

Q: This course was updated on 11/09/2012. What changed?
A: We have updated the movie dealing with Time Display to be applicable to working with different versions of After Effects (from CS4 to CS6). We also added a movie that shows our premium subscribers how to use the exercise files, including the new exercise files designed for After Effects CS6.
 
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.
Upgrade now


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 Upgrade now

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 03: Advanced 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

Notes cannot be added for locked videos.

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.