Modifying Keyframes

The Keyframe Editor provides an ideal environment for manipulating your keyframes because you can see their values, placement in time, and how the changes you make affect the interpolative curves surrounding your keyframes.

Curve Snapshots

When modifying keyframes, it is often helpful to have a frame of reference for your curves. This is useful both as a guide as you’re editing, and as a safety net in case you make some changes, then decide to go back to your curve’s original state.

To take and show curve snapshots
  • Click the “Take/Show curve snapshot” button at the bottom of the Keyframe Editor.

    Figure. "Take/Show curve snapshot" button.

    Now, as you move keyframes in the Keyframe Editor, the original curve—as it appeared when you took the snapshot—is represented by a lighter color. As long as you remain in the Keyframe Editor editing the current set of curves, the snapshot curve will remain available.

    Figure. Keyframe Editor showing a new curve compared to the snapshot curve.

If, after editing a curve, you wish to revert back to the snapshot, you can do so from the Animation menu in the Keyframe Editor.

To revert a curve back to its most recent snapshot
  • From the Animation menu in the Keyframe Editor, select Set to Curve Snapshot.

    The curve reverts to the state of its last snapshot.

Important: If you leave the Keyframe Editor, or load a different set of curves into the Keyframe Editor, curve snapshots are taken again, replacing the previous curve snapshots.

Using the Edit Tool

To use the following set of instructions, first select the Edit tool from the keyframe edit tools in the Keyframe Editor.

Figure. Keyframe editor showing Edit tool.
To change the value of a keyframe
Do one of the following:
  • Click the keyframe you want to modify, then drag the keyframe along the Y axis (up and down) to change its value. To change its position in time, drag along the X axis (left to right).

    Press the Shift key while dragging to constrain movement to one axis.

    When dragging a keyframe in the graph, numbers appear indicating the new position and value of the keyframe. The first number is the frame number and the second number is the parameter value.

    Figure. Keyframe Editor showing a keyframe being modified.

    When you drag two keyframes closer together along the X axis, the transformation between those values happens more quickly. When you drag keyframes farther apart from each other, the change happens more slowly.

  • Double-click the keyframe you want to modify, type the new value into the value field, then press Return.

    Figure. Keyframe Editor showing value field.

    This changes the value of the keyframe along the Y axis (up and down).

    Note: To get out of an active value field without making any changes, press Esc.

  • Drag in the value slider in the parameter list.

    Figure. Keyframe Editor inset showing parameter value slider.
    • Drag to the right to increase the value of the keyframe along the Y axis.

    • Drag to the left to decrease the value of the keyframe along the Y axis.

    • Press Shift while dragging to change the value in increments of 10.

    • Press Option while dragging to change the value in increments of .01.

In addition to modifying existing keyframes, you can add and delete keyframes right in the graph.

To add a keyframe
  1. Press the Option key and move the pointer over the parameter curve you want to modify.

    The pointer turns into a plus sign (+).

  2. Click the curve at the frame where you want the keyframe to appear.

  3. Drag the keyframe to your preferred value.

    Note: You can also add a keyframe at the current playhead position by choosing Add Keyframe from the Animation menu for any parameter, or by double-clicking the curve.

Curves created when new keyframes are added are set to the Bezier interpolation method. For more information on interpolation methods, see Modifying Curves.

To delete a keyframe
Do one of the following:
  • Select the keyframe, then press Delete.

    Note: You can drag to select multiple keyframes.

  • Control-click the keyframe, then choose Delete from the shortcut menu.

  • Navigate to the keyframe, then choose Delete Keyframe from the Animation menu for that parameter.

To delete all of the keyframes for a parameter
  • Click the Animation menu in the parameter list, then choose Reset Parameter.

    Note: You can also use the Animation menu in the Inspector.

Controlling Keyframes

In addition to deleting keyframes, you can lock or disable them. Also, there are special settings in the shortcut menu for keyframes that you can apply to control the shape of your curve. For more information, see Modifying Curves.

To lock or disable a keyframe
  • Control-click the keyframe you want to modify, then choose Lock or Disable from the shortcut menu.

    Lock prevents any further modification to that keyframe. Disable makes a keyframe temporarily ignored without deleting it.

Copying and Pasting Keyframes and Animation Curves

Keyframes and the animation curves they form can be moved from one parameter to another using copy and paste commands. This technique can be useful for copying a particular keyframe effect from one object to another, moving a keyframe path earlier or later in the same parameter, or for creating keyframes on one parameter and applying them to another parameter.

To copy keyframes, you must select the keyframes you want to copy, either individually, or as an entire channel or channels.

To select keyframes
Do one of the following:
  • Using the Edit tool, drag a selection box around the keyframes you want to select.

  • Shift-click the keyframes you want to select.

    Figure. Keyframe Editor showing a selected curve.
    Figure. Keyframe Editor showing selected keyframes.

Once you have the keyframes selected, you can cut or copy them to move them to the Clipboard.

To copy selected keyframes
  • Choose Edit > Copy (or press Command-C).

To cut selected keyframes
  • Choose Edit > Cut (or press Command-X).

    To paste your selected keyframes, you must select both the parameter you want to paste to, and the place in time where you want the pasted keyframes to begin.

To paste keyframes
  1. Select the destination parameter in the parameter list (on the left side of the Keyframe Editor).

  2. Place the playhead at the point in time where you want the keyframes to begin.

  3. Choose Edit > Paste (or press Command-V).

Note: Pasted keyframes may not make an identical-looking curve to the original if the parameter scales are different.

To select an entire animation curve
Do one of the following:
  • Select a parameter row in the parameter list of the Keyframe Editor.

  • Shift-click or Control-click in the parameters list to select multiple parameters.

    Once you have the keyframed parameters selected, you can cut or copy them to move them to the Clipboard.

To copy selected animation curves
  • Choose Edit > Copy (or press Command-C).

To cut selected animation curves
  • Choose Edit > Cut (or press Command-X).

    When pasting animation curves, any keyframes in destination parameters are replaced, and the timing of the original keyframes is retained over the entire channel in the new destination.

To paste animation curves
  1. In the parameter list of the Keyframe Editor, select the destination parameter.

  2. Choose Edit > Paste (or press Command-V).

Note: Pasted animation curves may not make an identical-looking curve to the original if the parameter scales are different.

Using the Sketch Tool

The Sketch tool (next to the Edit tool) allows you to sketch animation curves in the Keyframe Editor, creating keyframes as you go. In order to sketch a curve, the parameter you wish to animate must first appear in the parameter list. See Custom Parameter Sets for methods of displaying the curves you wish to appear.

Figure. Keyframe editor showing Sketch tool.
To sketch an animation curve
  1. In the parameter list, select the parameter you wish to sketch.

  2. Select the Sketch tool from the keyframe edit tools.

  3. Drag in the curve graph to sketch an animation curve.

    Dragging or clicking anywhere in the Keyframe Editor replaces existing keyframes.

    Figure. Keyframe Editor showing a curve being sketched.
To add individual keyframes using the Sketch tool
  1. Select the Sketch tool from the keyframe edit tools.

  2. In the parameter list, select the parameter you wish to sketch.

  3. Click in the curve graph to add a keyframe.

    Additional clicks create additional individual keyframes.

Using the Box Tool

Also in the keyframe edit tools, the Box tool allows you to drag a selection box around a number of keyframes, then manipulate their positions by adjusting the handles of the selection box.

Figure. Keyframe editor showing Box tool.
To draw a selection box using the Box tool
  1. Select the Box tool from the keyframe edit tools.

  2. In the curve graph, drag to create a box enclosing the keyframes you wish to manipulate.

    A selection box with eight handles appears in the curve graph.

    Figure. Keyframe Editor showing a selection box.

Once you have drawn a selection box, there are a number of ways to manipulate the box and keyframes therein. In general, you can drag any of the handles of the selection box to move them.

Transforming Keyframes

Repositioning the handles of the selection box is the same as dragging the handles of a bounding box of any object. The difference in this case is that the transforms done by moving these handles affect not only the box itself, but the keyframes enclosed therein. Moving the box moves all of the selected keyframes in whatever direction you move; as a result, you can affect where the keyframes are positioned in time or their parameter values, or both at the same time. Scaling the selection box “scales” the keyframes within the selection box, changing their timing and parameter values.

Experiment with the selection box to see how different kinds of manipulation affects the enclosed keyframes.

To move the selection box
  • Drag anywhere inside the selection box to move the box and the enclosed keyframes.

    Moving left and right repositions the keyframes in time, and moving up and down increases and decreases the parameter values of the selected keyframes.

    Note: No matter where you drag the box, only the keyframes selected by the original box are manipulated, even if the repositioned box overlaps keyframes outside of the original selection. To manipulate additional keyframes, you must redraw the selection box in the keyframe graph.

To scale the selection box
  • Hold down the Option key and drag any of the handles of the selection box.

    The box scales up or down as you drag along the axes.

To deform the selection box asymmetrically
  • Hold down the Command key and drag any of the corner handles of the selection box.

    Each corner handle moves independently of the other three corner handles of the selection box.