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In Blender we create animation by setting keyframes, so let's go ahead and create a simple animation and learn about how to set keyframes. I have a simple scene here with a car sitting on a ground plane, so let's go ahead and animate this car driving across the screen. Now before we do this, I'm going to actually scale down the length of my animation. By default, we have this set to 250 frames, and it'll definitely take a lot less than 250 frames for this car to drive across the screen.
So I'm going to go down to my Start and End values here and I'm going to type in 60 for my End value. Now when I do that, notice how a lot of Timeline goes away and my active area just shrinks down to the left side of the screen. Now, I can expand this in a couple of ways, but probably one of the easiest is to grab this little dot here on the side and then just drag. What that does is it scales up my Timeline. Now if I want to center this, I can just left-click on the Timeline anywhere I want and move left or right and that will pan the Timeline itself.
I can also grab the other side, but really any side works, and so what I want to do is get this Timeline centered. Now that I have it, let's go ahead and set our first keyframe. I'm going to right-click to select my car. And what we need to do is position the car at the beginning of the animation and also set the Timeline to the frame that is the beginning of the animation. So I'm going to scrub my Timeline so that my cursor is at frame 1, and you can see that here, and then I'm going to just move this car back to the edge of this plane.
Now moving the car itself does nothing. We need to be able to set a keyframe. We can do that in a couple of ways. The first way is to explicitly set the keyframe. In other words, you tell Blender exactly when and where you want to set a keyframe. We can do that either in the Transform panel of the car's Properties panel, or we can do it here in the Transform panel. These are basically the same value. So it doesn't matter if we do it here on the viewport or in the Properties panel; it's the same process.
Now all we have to do is just right- click and say Insert Keyframes, or we can just hover over that menu and hit I, which is the hotkey. So if I hover over this and hit the letter I on the keyboard, notice how we get this yellowed out, and that tells me that there is a keyframe. I'm going to go ahead and close this Transform window. And so yellow means we have a keyframe here, and also if I scrub my Timeline, you'll see that I have another keyframe here. Again, it's a yellow keyframe.
This tells me that I have a key set in the Timeline. So in order for something to animate, we need at least two keyframe, so I'm going to go ahead and scroll over to, say, frame 50, and then I'm just going to move my car over towards the end of the screen. Now doing that by itself will not animate. In fact, as soon as I move my Timeline, you'll see it snaps back. I have to create another keyframe. Now we can do that in one of two ways.
I can just position the car and hit I again, like I did before. Another way to do it is to just automatically set the keyframe, and we can do that here by pressing this little red button. And what this does is it sets automatic keyframe. So whenever you move the object, it'll set a keyframe to reflect that position. This can be very easy to use. It can also be a little hazardous, because if you accidentally move an object, you'll also create a keyframe.
So be a little bit careful when you use this option. But by clicking this button, all I have to do now is just move the car and you can see how it brings up the keyframe not just for the location of the car, but for everything. And the reason it does that is because next to this, we have an option here. This tells you what gets automatically set for keyframes, basically any Available channel, Location, Rotation, and we can go down to Scale and those sort of things. But it's set to Available, which means it'll set a keyframe for just about anything.
And so once we have this, we can just hit the Play button, and you can see the car drives across the screen and rolls to a stop. Now if I want to, I can create additional keyframes. So let's go over to the middle of this and go to frame 25, and let's go ahead and slide the car over, so let's go ahead and make the car do a curvy path, and as soon as I do that, you'll see I get another keyframe. So once I do that, you can see how the car moves from one place to the other.
But it doesn't look realistic, because in order for the car to move to that spot, it needs to be facing in that direction. Well, we can change that simply by adding a key for rotation. Now if you notice, the first key I set was for just Location. Rotation and Scale are set as green, and what that means is that they don't have a keyframe at frame 1. At frame 25, they're both yellow, as well as 50, they're both yellow, but green means that something is animating, but we're not on a specific keyframe.
So if I want, I can just rotate this car to go into the direction of travel, and now you can see it's driving around that corner. And again, once we get here, we also need to make it pointing in that direction of travel. So now once I have this, I can play it back. So as you can see, there are several different ways of setting keys. You can explicitly set keys in Blender by hovering over any value and hitting the I key.
If we want to automatically set keys, then we need to press this little button on the Timeline and then be careful to only move the object when we want to set a key.
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