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After Effects Apprentice 02: Basic Animation
Illustration by John Hersey

Using Auto-keyframe mode


From:

After Effects Apprentice 02: Basic Animation

with Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer

Video: Using Auto-keyframe mode

In this movie, I'll cover a new feature added in CS5 called Auto-keyframe mode. I'll start with a blank project and drag in my title. I'll move it down into position. Next, I'll add the Snowflake movie. If you remember from earlier in the lesson, the snowflake will animate into position. Just so you can see what's going to happen, I'll twirl down Transformations. Now earlier what we saw that if you turn on the stopwatch for Position or Scale or Rotation, it will then remember the value of a keyframe at this point in time, and then you can start making an animation.

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After Effects Apprentice 02: Basic Animation
2h 19m Beginner Jan 25, 2011 Updated Nov 09, 2012

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Trish Meyer leads beginners through a gentle introduction to Adobe After Effects: from creating a new project and importing sources, through arranging and animating layers, applying effects, and creating variations, to rendering the final movie. However, this is no paint-by-numbers exercise. Trish demonstrates how she makes creative decisions and saves time through the use of keyboard shortcuts and smart working practices. Additional movies explain further details about how After Effects works under the hood. Her measured pace helps even those completely new to After Effects understand the program so that they can use it effectively on their own projects. 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:
  • Starting a project from scratch
  • Building a composition
  • Arranging and transforming layers interactively and numerically
  • Animating parameters including motion paths
  • Applying and re-using effects
  • Creating variations and rendering the final movie
  • Importing layered Photoshop files
  • Understanding alpha channels
  • Avoiding common mistakes
Subjects:
Video Motion Graphics Visual Effects
Software:
After Effects
Authors:
Chris Meyer Trish Meyer

Using Auto-keyframe mode

In this movie, I'll cover a new feature added in CS5 called Auto-keyframe mode. I'll start with a blank project and drag in my title. I'll move it down into position. Next, I'll add the Snowflake movie. If you remember from earlier in the lesson, the snowflake will animate into position. Just so you can see what's going to happen, I'll twirl down Transformations. Now earlier what we saw that if you turn on the stopwatch for Position or Scale or Rotation, it will then remember the value of a keyframe at this point in time, and then you can start making an animation.

The idea behind Auto-keyframe mode is that you don't have to turn on the stopwatches. Now you enable Auto-keyframe mode by clicking on the large stopwatch in the Timeline. When it's enabled, it will appear in red. As soon as you make any change to the layer, it will figure out what property you're trying to animate and turn on the stopwatch for you. For instance if I scale the layer, the Scale stopwatch came on. When I move the layer, the Position stopwatch came on. So these are the values at this point in time.

Let's say I move to two seconds where the animation will finish, and I'll move my snowflake into position. You'll see a second position keyframe appear, but that's normal. Nothing special. That's the way After Effects will work. As soon as you move the layer, a second keyframe is created. As soon as I change the value, whether I do it interactively or in the Timeline, another keyframe is created. So this animation was started by me just interactively moving and editing the layer in the Comp panel. Now let's say I'd also like this layer to fade up over 2 seconds.

Sometimes it might make sense, even though Auto-keyframe mode is on, to enable the stopwatch manually. That's because at this point in time, I wanted to have this value. If I want Auto-keyframe mode to work, I'll have to kind of fiddle with the value to get it to turn on the stopwatch. Now I can hit Home to return to 0 and set my first Keyframe. Now this snowflake will fade on and move down into position. After this, everything is just as normal. If I make a change, that will update an existing keyframe.

The idea behind Auto-keyframe mode is it's designed for someone who often forgets to turn on a stopwatch. However, there are pros and cons to this feature. For instance, if I select the title and press P for position, it currently has no keyframes. That's because I moved it into position before I enabled Auto-keyframe mode. So if I don't twirl down Position I may fool myself into thinking that I already made a keyframe for its final resting place.

At time 0, I'll make my first Keyframe, and when I hit Play, I don't get the animation. That's because the stopwatch was never turned on at 2 seconds. So in this case where I want that exact value back. I've got no choice but to Undo until I can figure out what that value was, and then at two seconds, turn on the stopwatch so I can make a keyframe with this value. Now I can return to 0 and either drag or scrub the value. So you do need to keep an eye on the properties.

I would be careful about having everything twirled up and just assuming that the keyframes are being created and stopwatch is turned on exactly the way I'd like them to be. Now I mentioned there were pros and cons. Another con I found is that sometimes you end up with extra keyframes. Let's say I add in a movie, and I'd like this Snowboarding movie to be in the top left-hand corner. Now I still have Auto-keyframe mode enabled. If I place it in position and then I look in my animation and I say, I think it's a little big, it's kind of obscuring my snowflake, let's try it like that.

Then you go. Well, maybe it's a little small. I'll make it little bit bigger. You're probably guessing, I bet Trish is making a whole bunch of keyframes here, and I am. If I press U, you'll see I made all these keyframes that I--I really didn't intend to animate this layer at all. So I would keep a close eye on whether Auto-keyframe mode is enabled or not, and I would turn it on and use it very specifically and then disable it as soon as you think you're finished with it; otherwise, I think you'll end up with a lot of extra keyframes you didn't intend to make.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about After Effects Apprentice 02: Basic Animation.


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Q: This course was updated on 11/09/2012. What changed?
A: We added new movies on using the exercise files that come with this course, and working with the Global Performance Cache in After Effects CS6. We have also added exercise files designed for After Effects CS6.
 
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