After Effects Keyframe Tutorial


The main concept when using Adobe After Effects is creating animations by using keyframes. Keyframes technology creates animations from a start point and an end point. Using keyframes is essential to creating animations in Adobe After Effects and, after learning the basics, a user can expand his editing skills and create detailed projects. Every object and effect within the program uses keyframes, and the mixture of keyframes within objects creates realistic and detailed animations.

Enabling Keyframes

  • There are multiple ways to enable keyframes within the After Effects program. Underneath each object, every element will have a small stopwatch icon to the left of it. Click the icon so that it appears indented. The indented icon means that keyframes are enabled. The first keyframe is automatically created at whatever point the timeline navigator is on. For example, drag the timeline navigator to the start of the project and set the "Scale" to 50 percent. Click on the keyframe icon next to the "Scale" tool and the element will start at the beginning of the project with 50 percent.

Manipulating Keyframes

  • Every time a new keyframe is created, it is represented by a small yellow diamond on its location in the timeline. Move the diamonds around to different positions when needed, or highlight a single diamond and press the "Delete" key to remove it. The diamonds can only be seen when the actual object is expanded and each effect can be seen. Right-click on a yellow diamond to change the value if necessary.

Quick Tips

  • Keyframes save time from animations, but they can also take a while to create. Speed up the process by copying and pasting keyframes to create the same desired effect. For example, if you create three position keyframes to make a person walk, simply copy and paste those 3 keyframes multiple times to extend the walking animation. Drag the timeline navigator over each time before pasting. Spread apart or tighten the diamonds to decrease or increase the walking speed.

Testing Keyframes

  • Preview nearly every keyframe change to make sure the animation flows correctly. Go to "Window" and "Time Controls." Click on the "RAM Preview" option to the far right so that the program will render the files and show the animation in real time. Click at any time to stop the preview and adjust the animation as needed. Zoom into the specific animation area in the composition window by clicking on the drop down menu and select a percentage. Use the "Hand" mouse tool to click and move around the composition.

Keyframe Assistant

  • Automatically create keyframe animations by utilizing the keyframe assistant. Right-click on an object and find the "Keyframe Assistant" sub menu. The sub menu features multiple options, but the basic one to use is "Easy Ease In." This will automatically create keyframes that fade the object into the project. Another useful tool is the "Reverse Keyframe function." This will completely reverse the animation that was created for an object.

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