Join Rob Garrott for an in-depth discussion in this video Manipulating keyframes in the Timeline, part of CINEMA 4D Essentials 3: Cameras, Animation, and Deformers.
Now animating in CINEMA 4D is all about keyframes and keyframes are manipulated in the timeline. Before we can get over to the timeline to take a look at that process, we need to have some keyframes to work with. What I'm going to do is animate this word KEYFRAME traveling along the Z axis and spinning from off into distance to its mark here at the center of the world. In order to do that I'm going to use something I called Backwards Animation. I know that I want my KEYFRAME word to be here at the center of the world. I just have to figure out when I want it to be there. I'm going to park my Time slider on frame 60, that's where I want the KEYFRAME word to hit its mark at time 0.
So let's go ahead and set keyframes for the word KEYFRAME at that moment in time. So I'll select the object, so now here in the Coordinate Properties I'm going to set a keyframe for the Position Parameters so I'll click on the P hold down the Ctrl key and click on this gray dot. That changes it in to a red dot. Now I know that I've set a keyframe for that. Let's go ahead and set keyframes for the other parameters as well. Because I already have this selected, I can hold down the Shift key and highlight over. I don't have to set keyframes for each of these individually, I can also highlight them all and then hold down the Ctrl key and Click on one of these gray dots, and now I've set key frames for all of those parameters at once.
So, I know that my keyframe object will be at frame 60 at that location and space facing that direction. Now what I can do is go back up in time and then decide where I want it to come from. That's where the backwards animation comes from. So let's backup in time to time 0 and at time 0, let's take the object and move it along the Z axis. So let's grab this word and drag it along the Z axis off into the distance. And at time 0, I'm going to set keyframes for everything. Even though I didn't change the scale of rotation, I'm going to do that soon, I still say keyframes for everything at that point in time.
Now what I can do is decide how I want it to rotate. Now I want my word KEYFRAME to spin around its Y axis as it moves to the center of the world. So the parameter that I want to change is the rotation H, that's the rotation around the Y axis. So in order to do that, I'm going to go to rotation H and then I'll change the rotation H 0, from 0 to -720. Now it's going to look like nothing has happened that's because 720 is two times 360. So to the camera, the object has not changed rotation, but numerically it has rotated 360 degrees in the minus direction.
So let's set a keyframe now for the rotation to lock that in position. Now we want to change the scale, let's change the scale down to 0, so it's 0 by 0 by 0. So I'll highlight that one and go 0 tab 0 tab 0. And now my object is small, I can't see it; let's set a keyframe for that. Now when I hit Play, I have an object that starts off as nothing, starts to move, spins as it's moving, scales up into position and hits its mark and stops.
Now that we've got those keyframes created, let's switch over to the Timeline to see how that looks. I'm going to select the Layout menu and go to the Animation Layout. Now that I'm here in the Animation Layout, I can now see my actual keyframes. Right now, my animation layout is set to be showing the F Curve Manager. So I'm going to switch over to keyframes right now. There's a great keyboard shortcut for that and that's the Spacebar. If I press the Spacebar once, it switches to the F Curve Manager, if I press the spacebar again, it switches to keyframes.
Now if you remember from earlier chapters, the Spacebar also cycles us between tools, but that's only when we're here in the perspective view. If I hit the Spacebar up here, t goes from tool to Selection tool and back again. When I hit the Spacebar down here, it goes from F Curve Manager to Keyframes. So this is the Keyframe Window and these little rectangles are keyframes. In fact, there's something called a Summary Key frame and this is the Summary Line here in the Keyframe Editor. Now this Summary Line tells us that at time 0, we're parked on a keyframe and there are parameters for those keyframes underneath these.
If I twirl open the word Keyframe and twirl open Position, you can see that not only do I have a Summary Keyframe for the overall point in time, I have a Summary Keyframe for the Object and a Summary Keyframe for the Parameter. And then underneath that Parameter are each of the individual keyframes that make up where that object is supposed to be at time 0. Let's say I wanted to have this animation start a little bit later in time. I could take this Summary Keyframe and drag it to the right. Now I'm moving all the keyframes from time 0 to time 20.
In fact, now you'll see that my object doesn't start to animate until 20 frames after the beginning. So let's Rewind back to 0 and hit Play. B oom! So once it hits first keyframe, it starts it process to get to this keyframe. Let's take a look now what would happen if we wanted it to go back to time 0? Let's move these keyframes back to 0 and then let's say we wanted to have the whole thing happen more quickly. We can Time Compress the keyframes by grabbing all the Summary Keyframes and you notice this orange bar linking the two groups of keyframes together? This tells us that we can now move this keyframes as a group.
I can take the entire block of keyframes and move it to the right or back again to the left at time 0. I can also take this handle of the orange bar and drag to the left. I'm Time Compressing the keyframes when I do this. There are two big gotchas when it comes to manipulating keyframes inside of CINEMA 4D's timeline. The first gotcha is the idea of keyframe alignment. When you're just starting out with animation, you want to make sure that all your keyframes -- in this case we just got two, all line up. You notice that I have separate keyframes for position X, Y and Z.
I don't ever want to accidentally do something like this. I'm going to select the single keyframe on position Y and move it over. I never want to have these keyframes out of alignment, it's okay to have the scale and rotation out of alignment, but I never want to have this keyframe out of alignment. The reason is that it can create awkward bumps or challenges to your animation and it's much better to have those keyframes lined up vertically within a given keyframe Track. Let's move that back again and take a look at moving other keyframes around.
Let's take this Scale and Rotation, also highlight the Summary Keyframes and move them forward in time. Now you can see that it starts moving, scales up quickly, hits its mark and continues to spin and scale while it's at it's location at the center of the world. So, as I finish the animation, there it is right there. Let's hit Play real quick again to see that animation in real time. Another big gotcha in the timeline are these little Twirl Down Handles.
When I twirl open this handle here, I see something that look suspiciously like an F Curve. Never touch these curves here in the timeline. You only ever edit F Curves in the F Curve Manager. The reason for that is this is as big as you can make this window and you can't really get a good representation for the movement of your object with such a small curve. The F Curve Manager is dedicated to manipulating curves and it does a much better job. Let's twirl that close and never twirl it open again. While I select the keyframe, you'll notice as I hover over, it shows me some information.
That information is what value is contained within that keyframe. Remember, that this timeline is basically just a spreadsheet and the keyframes are cells within that spreadsheet. And if I select a keyframe, I can now see the parameters that are associated with that keyframe. Here in the Attribute Manager, I can see that I've got Key Time that's the location time of the keyframe and the Key Value. What is that keyframe telling the object to do? In this case, it's telling our object to be at 0 on position Y in the timeline, and in fact, that's where our object is.
Now if I wanted to change that value, I could highlight the keyframe, select the Key Value here and put it some other numeric value, 50. You can see that now my object is moved up 50 units on Y at that moment in time. So, as I scrub back to the animation, I can scrub forward again, it hits its mark, but you can see that it's spinning 50 units over the top of the ground plane, and that's because of the value that I changed in this keyframe. If I go back to that keyframe and change the Key Value to be 0, then there it is back on the ground again.
So you don't have to set keyframes over and over again. You can actually manipulate the values in the keyframes when you know exactly what they need to be. Now that you have a basic understanding of the Timeline and how to manipulate keyframes, we can move over to the F Curve Manager in the next movie to look at what happens in between the keyframes.
- What is a keyframe?
- Working with the F-Curve Manager
- Pausing an animation
- Working with the Editor Camera vs. the camera object
- Adding movement with a spline wrap
- Creating custom shapes with the Melt deformer