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After Effects Apprentice 02: Basic Animation
Illustration by John Hersey

Using hold keyframes


From:

After Effects Apprentice 02: Basic Animation

with Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer

Video: Using hold keyframes

I sometimes see beginners have this problem, so I thought it would be worth going through an example and then introducing you to the hold keyframe. Let's say I make a motion path like this and then I go later in time and I add a keyframe. When I add this keyframe by clicking on the diamond, it will use the same value as the previous keyframe. So now I've two automatic Bezier keyframes right on top of each other. Now, I'll go later in time and drag this keyframe over. When I RAM-preview, you can see it holds on the value between the second and third keyframe.

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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 hold keyframes

I sometimes see beginners have this problem, so I thought it would be worth going through an example and then introducing you to the hold keyframe. Let's say I make a motion path like this and then I go later in time and I add a keyframe. When I add this keyframe by clicking on the diamond, it will use the same value as the previous keyframe. So now I've two automatic Bezier keyframes right on top of each other. Now, I'll go later in time and drag this keyframe over. When I RAM-preview, you can see it holds on the value between the second and third keyframe.

So you don't really need to make a hold keyframe in this instance. Now I get the result that I'm looking for because I had two automatic keyframes on top of each other. Now After Effects knows that when two automatic keyframes have the same value, it will retract, or remove, the outgoing handle from the first one, and also remove the incoming handle from the second one, so the handles don't get in the way of each other. But look what happens if I don't have automatic keyframes. I'll turn on the Stopwatch again.

That's my first keyframe. I'll go later in time and move it up here, and I'll move later in time, make another keyframe over here. And then we realize, Oh dear! Didn't really want that to happen. I want a straight line. So we edit it and then we edit that. So now what we have is a Bezier keyframe, not a continuous Bezier, but Bezier, meaning the handles have broken. So I have the Bezier keyframe at one second. I RAM-preview and I get this great idea that I should really pause a little while on that second keyframe.

So it would make sense, and I think I'm being very clever, I take the second keyframe and I copy it, Command+C, and then I paste it at two seconds. Well, what I've just done is paste a keyframe that had two handles sticking out to another keyframe that also has two handle sticking out, and you can see it right in the Comp panel. There is a loop that's being created by all those handles. Now when I RAM-preview, I can see I have a what I call a loop-the-loop.

It wobbles around in between when it's really should be holding on the value. And it doesn't makes sense if I'm new to After Effects. I see this is this value, this is this value, and it looks like it's staying in the same place, but in between the handles are creating a circle. Now this is where the whole keyframe comes in really handy. You don't need to go in there and start trying to figure out how to retract one handle and retract the other handle and so on; all you need to do is select this keyframe at one second-- the keyframe that's supposed to be holding its value and it's not holding its value--and you make it a Hold keyframe.

So I'll select it and under the Animation menu, I'll select Toggle Hold Keyframe. In the Timeline, the right- hand side became a square. Now my problem went away. It's now holding on that value. So that's what a Hold Keyframe does; it literally holds on the value until it hits the next keyframe. And if the next keyframe has the same Position value, it will just continue from that point onwards. Now a Hold keyframe is what you need to use whenever you want to hold a value.

I sometimes see beginners create projects with a lot of extra keyframes. For instance, they want to hold on a value, and let's say they want to go there, but they don't actually want to interpolate between these two positions. By making that a Hold keyframe it will just jump to this point. So we'll animate up to here, hold on that value, and then jump. And there are a lot of other ways you can use a Hold keyframe.

We'll address some of them in a future lesson. But for now just remember whenever you want to hold on value and then either continue or have it jump to a new value, that's where the Hold keyframe comes in. What I see people do is sometimes this: they don't want to interpolate, so they go through this frame and then they back up one frame, and they take this keyframe and then they copy it. So it looks like it's holding, but sometimes you end up with these strange problems, like it's moving in between, where it's not really holding, and you also have a problem that between these two frames is a second field.

So if you field-render, you'll have a little jump, but the image will be here on the second field, as it jumped from here to here. So bear in mind, you never ever want to do this kind of workaround. Let's delete that keyframe, that extra keyframe, and by simply changing this keyframe to a Hold keyframe, I solve all my problems. Now I see a lot of advanced users still don't know how to use a Hold keyframe. So don't forget that guy is really handy. He is hiding here under the Animation menu and it has a shortcut.

There are various ways you can use them. You can Command+Click to go back to Linear and Command+Option+Click to make it Hold. That's probably more information than you needed to know in your first lesson, so we'll just leave it there.

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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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