April 7, 2020

Keyframe Motion in After Effects | F.I.R.S.T. Quick Tips

Keyframing is the most important fundamental of using After Effects! Watch as our videographer, Gage, teaches you how to put the “motion” in motion graphics.


The Stopwatch

Start with a graphic element – it can be anything! Gage uses the F.I.R.S.T. logo. He presses “P” on the keyboard to bring up the “Position” quality on this layer, and clicks the stopwatch icon. This creates a keyframe, essentially telling the program that at this point on the timeline, the logo should be at a certain position in the frame.

Move down the timeline about five seconds. Then, click and drag the logo to the right side of the screen (alternatively, you can adjust the values next to the stopwatch icon if you want to be more exact in your placement). Now you are telling After Effects that you want the logo to be at THIS point on the screen, at this point in time.

Using this information, After Effects will automatically create an animation for you. If you play your composition, you can see that the logo now moves from left to right, beginning at your first keyframe and ending at the second. If it’s too slow, you can simply drag the keyframe closer to the beginning of the timeline.

This concept doesn’t just apply to motion – you can change an element’s scale, rotation, opacity, and more!


Bonus Techniques

By default, the animations you make in After Effects might look a little stiff. If you want to smooth out the movement, you can do so by selecting both keyframes, right-clicking, and selecting “Easy Ease”. This adds an easing effect to the beginning and end of the animation.

To really sell the effect, you might want to add motion blur as your graphic moves across the screen. There’s an icon that looks like three overlapping circles on your layer properties – click this, and click the matching icon up above to make it visible on your timeline.

Now your object will have realistic motion blur as it travels. Great to give your animations a sense of speed!