What Is Keyframing?

Keyframing is the process of assigning a specific parameter value to an object at a specific point in time. For example, you might want a clip to be scaled to fill the screen exactly five seconds into your project. When you set more than one keyframe, Motion generates the in-between frames, resulting in a smooth change of that parameter over time. This is called interpolation. For example, if you want a title to change from green to blue over time, you would set two keyframes at two different points in time. The first one would define the text’s color as green, and the second keyframe would set the color to blue. Motion automatically makes the frames between those points change smoothly from green to blue.

Figure. Example of an object changing color over time.

Motion lets you keyframe parameters such as color values, position, rotation, opacity, and almost every other parameter in the application.

Animation in Motion

There are several different places in Motion where you can create and edit keyframes and the values between them, which are represented by animation curves. For example, you can animate basic properties such as scale, rotation, and screen position by simply manipulating the object directly in the Canvas when the Record button is enabled.

Figure. Canvas window showing Record button.

When Record is enabled, a keyframe is created for any parameter that is adjusted. This includes parameters adjusted in the Canvas, Inspector, or HUD. In the Recording Options dialog (choose Edit > Recording Options or press Option-A), you can select the “Record keyframes on animated parameters only” option, which adds keyframes only to parameters that are already animated (keyframed)—even when Record is enabled. For more information, see Recording Keyframes on Animated Parameters Only.

You can also use the HUD and the Inspector to set and modify values for nearly every option in the application. Any time you adjust a slider or other control, you have the option of locking that change to the current frame, thereby setting a keyframe. From that point on, no matter what else you do, that parameter always finds its way to that specific value when playback reaches that frame.

Figure. Inspector and HUD showing properties for a rectangle shape.

You can also view and modify keyframes in the Timeline by clicking the Show/Hide Keyframes button. Keyframes appear as small blue (or white, when selected) diamonds beneath their parent object.

Figure. Timeline tab showing keyframes in the tracks and the Show/Hide Keyframes button.

In the Keyframe Editor, you can see and manipulate a graph for every parameter in the application. Again, keyframes appear as diamonds, and the lines (or curves) connecting the keyframes indicate the values for the interpolated frames.

Figure. Keyframe Editor showing keyframed parameters and a selected keyframe.

You can filter the parameter list to show only the parameters and keyframes that you are interested in.

Animating in the Canvas

The easiest way to perform basic keyframing is to modify objects directly in the Canvas. The most common effects that you can create with keyframes are changes to Scale, Rotation, and Position. Additional parameters that can be keyframed in the Canvas include Shear, Pivot, Drop Shadow, Crop, and Four Corner. While many of these techniques can also be performed using behaviors, keyframing gives you the added flexibility to set specific values on precise frames.

Ordinarily, when you make transformations to an object in the Canvas, the object remains in the new position or shape for its entire duration. In order to create change in an object over time, you must create keyframes. There are several ways to create keyframes while working in the Canvas.