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Lesson 3. Intermediate Compositing > Animating over Time

Animating over Time

To fix the position of the shadow, you need to animate it over time. Animation is the process of setting values at various frames, or keyframes, as they are called. These keyframes transition from one to another over time.

Move the Time Bar to frame 1.

Click the right side of Move2D1 to edit its parameters.

Turn the onscreen controls to the position at which they disappear when moving but reappear when you release the mouse.

If the AutoKey button under the Viewer is not highlighted green, click it to turn it on.

By turning on the Viewer’s AutoKey button, you can enter keyframes using the onscreen controls. The AutoKey button under the Viewer is available for any node that has onscreen controls.

Position the shadow to your liking with the onscreen controls.

Go to frame 30 and position the shadow.

There are now little notches in the Time Bar where you have set keyframes at frames 1 and 30.

If you position the Time Bar over one of the notches, you can delete that keyframe by clicking the Delete Keyframe button in the Viewer.

Place the Time Bar at frame 30, and click the Delete Keyframe button in the Viewer.

If you turn off the AutoKey button and reposition the shadow, your changes will be ignored as soon as you move to a different frame. You can also add keys to a specific parameter by going to that parameter’s slider and turning on its specific AutoKey button.


When the Viewer’s AutoKey button is activated and you’re using the onscreen controls, keyframes are set for all parameters. This is true even if you adjust only one parameter, such as rotation. Turning on the AutoKey button next to a particular parameter will set keyframes for that parameter only.

Go to frame 20 and turn on the AutoKey button next to the pan parameters.

Whenever you enter a value either with the sliders or the virtual sliders, that value will be entered as a keyframe.


You can’t set keyframes with the parameter sliders by turning on the AutoKey button under the Viewer. To set keyframes with the sliders, you must turn on the AutoKey button next to the parameter.

Go to frame 40 and use the virtual sliders (Control-drag) in the Pan fields to position the shadow.


If you want to enter a key but don’t want to leave the AutoKey on, simply double-click the AutoKey button when it is off and a keyframe will be entered.

Position the shadow on frame 60.

You may have noticed that a motion path has been drawn on the screen as you have been setting keyframes. If you can’t see the motion path, move your pointer over the Viewer area.

The display of the motion path is controlled by the Point display pop-up.

Click and hold the Point icon to see the pop-up list.

  • Display motion path spline and keys

  • Display motion path keys only

  • Display neither motion path nor keys

You can drag points on the motion path and modify them. When you hover over or grab a point, the x-y coordinate is displayed, along with the frame number. You may need to zoom in on the points of the motion path to see this information.

If you had difficulty in positioning the shadow to match, use the following table to see the keyframes that I used for the completed shot:


Navigate to the new keyframes that have been set using the step forward/backward keyframe buttons at the bottom right of the screen.

Make a flipbook to see what you’ve done so far.

Not bad, but you can make it even better.

Close the flipbook.



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