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After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced Animation
Illustration by John Hersey

Slamming down with Hold keyframes


From:

After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced Animation

with Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer

Video: Slamming down with Hold keyframes

We have spent most of this lesson so far in trying to show you how to make smooth elegant animations. What now I am going to show you is how to make jerky slamdowns on animations and to do that we'll use hold keyframes. Now Trish talked about hold keyframes in the basic animation lesson, but I am going to show you a very different application of them here. First I am going to clear my display by doing Close All from the Comp panel, and then if you have the project files open up comp 06-Slam Down*starter. If you don't have the files, just bring in in any object or piece of text that you might want to animate.

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After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced Animation
3h 1m Beginner Jan 26, 2011 Updated Nov 12, 2012

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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

Slamming down with Hold keyframes

We have spent most of this lesson so far in trying to show you how to make smooth elegant animations. What now I am going to show you is how to make jerky slamdowns on animations and to do that we'll use hold keyframes. Now Trish talked about hold keyframes in the basic animation lesson, but I am going to show you a very different application of them here. First I am going to clear my display by doing Close All from the Comp panel, and then if you have the project files open up comp 06-Slam Down*starter. If you don't have the files, just bring in in any object or piece of text that you might want to animate.

What I have right here is the word REJECT inside of frame, and I want to make this word appear to come from a height then slam down on my white screen and keep drifting afterwards. I might even make it blink just for fun. Okay, now as we have mentioned before, quite often when you animate a good place to start keyframing is at the end at your final desired pose. Well, this is my final desired pose and let's say I want to achieve that one second into my animation. I've moved my Current Time Indicator to 1 second. I select REJECT.

Press P for Position, Shift+S to also reveal Scale, Shift+R to also reveal Rotation. I want a keyframe all three of these properties. To enable keyframing, I click on the stopwatch for one of them and with the mouse still held down, I can continue to drag downward and it will enable the stopwatch for the other properties as well. Quick way to do a bunch of properties in a hurry. So there is my ending pose. Let's say I want to have a new pose every ten frames. If I want to backup ten frames, I can drag the Current Time Indicator, et cetera.

A great shortcut is to hold the Shift key, which is the universal multiply by 10 key in After Effects, then press Page Up, and I will move upwards in the Timeline, earlier in time, by 10 frames. Now that I am there, I am going to go ahead and pick a scale. Let's make it a little bit larger. Pick a Rotation, maybe something a little jaunty like that, and let's go ahead and move it to different position just to make it a little out of balance. Let's go little David Carson here and put this off the screen a little bit. Shift+Page Up for another ten frames, scale it up even bigger.

Rotate the opposite direction, maybe like that, move over here, something different little pose, and this is interactive. Let's say I want to make it a little more like that. And then Shift+Page Up ten more frames and let's make one more really big in my face pose here. It's going to animate back. Now, let's go ahead and even make it -90 degrees so it's standing up on edge, and pick a couple of letters like E, C, and scale it down a little bit so I can see them both.

Now you might have noticed that my Scale value is well over 100%. And one of the pieces of advice we had given you in the past is that you don't want to scale layers over 100%, because they will get soft. But this is still looking pretty sharp. Well, there's a reason for that. Pixel-based layers will indeed get soft when they go over 100%. However, vector-based layers-- layers that were drawn using Shape tools or Pen tools such as characters inside Illustrator or characters created by fonts which are also vector outlines.

Well, After Effects can render those on the fly and make them look sharper at whatever size and trick to that is the Continuous Rasterization switch. If you have a vector-based layer, something drawn with paths or a font, et cetera, and if you have Continuous Rasterization enabled for that layer, you can then scale it up over 100% and it will still render sharp inside After Effects. If I turn this off, you notice how-- bleb, fuzzy it looks. It's not nice at all.

Turn on, nice, clean, and sharp. This does have other implications with rendering orders and stuff like that and we will bring up later in future lessons, but in the meantime, it's a great thing for text and Illustrator artwork. Anyway here we are. I've got my Slam Down pose. I set up one and make a drift at the end so I'll press the End key to get to the end here. And to make a drift, I will scale it down a little bit. Let's just give a little bit of "I am falling in space" like a little bit of rotation. Okay, that looks good. Let's RAM Preview. I will press 0 on the numeric keypad and that's interesting, but that's not all what I intended.

I wanted to go pose, pose, pose, not slide, slide, slide. Well, that's where hold keyframes come in handy. As usual, first I want to show you a wrong way you may be tempted to do something, then I will show you the right way. The wrong way would be to say, well you know, I just want to hold these keyframes values for the entire duration targets of the X keyframes. So let's go to those keyframes, press Page Up to back up one frame, Command+C or Ctrl+C to copy those keyframes, then Command or Ctrl+V to paste them at the current time.

And you go perfect, exactly what I wanted. I am holding the same value and then when I get to the next frame, I jump. Problem solved. Well, maybe, maybe not. The problem with doing things this way is things can happen in between those two keyframes. For example, if you are doing video and you need to field render your material, you'll actually render a field in between those two keyframes and therefore you will see an intermediate pose. If I had Motion Blur enabled for this layer, you'll get some funny things going on here in between these two frames.

I mean here is my whole pose and here's it's slamming down to the next frame. It may be not what I intended. As Trish showed you in a prior lesson, is also prompts a Position path when you copy/paste keyframes and things wandering around. This is not the right approach. The right approach is to change the keyframe interpolation type. That's one of the secrets in After Effects. Don't use linear keyframes or everything. It's usually a better interpolation type to move between keyframes in a better way. In this case, it's hold keyframes. I want all these guys to be hold, so I am going to click Position, select all those, hold down Shift.

Click Scale, select all those. Hold down Shift, click on Rotation, select all those. They are all yellow and selected now. And I can either go to the Animation menu or right-click on a keyframe and choose Toggle Hold Keyframe. That says convert these to hld keyframes. When I do so, you will see the very ends of these frames have changed to have squared-off edges. The squared-off edge implies, hold that value until you get to the next keyframe, which has a different front on it.

You will notice that my motion paths straightened out as well too. There is no dots indicating any intermediate positions. All right, let's RAM Preview. Okay, that beginning is right. That's exactly what I wanted for the beginning, but it's not drifting at the end. What's going on here? Well, this is the danger of applying something to everything. Sometimes you do need some variations. My problem is I applied hold keyframes even to these keyframes, which are supposed to drift over time to the ending.

So I am going to select these last keyframes, the ones where the drift is supposed to start. Hold down Command on Mac, Ctrl on Windows, click on them to convert them back to linear keyframes and now I'll have my drift as I go from this linear keyframe to the next point in time.

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


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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.
 
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