Final Cut Pro: How To Use Keyframes To Animating Motion Effects

Keyframes are destination cues used in Final Cut Pro and other non-linear editing programs to create motion paths to animate graphics and effects. They're not a new concept; they have been around since the early days of animation. Before everything was done on computers, graphics and animations had to be created by hand. The senior animators would draw the first and last frames for each movement and the junior animators would fill in the in-between frames. This concept carried into the digital age, with the animator now creating his keyframes and the computer filling in the rest. It's very easy to do in Final Cut Pro.

Step 1: Preparation

The first step in creating any motion path is to pre-visualize it. After all, you don't want to perform all of this work and then find out the effect isn't quite what you're looking for. Think about what you want, and when you're sure that it's right, then go for it. If the motion effect you're going for involves superimposing a video clip over another video clip, then you will have to add tracks to your Timeline so there are at least two video tracks. Once the Timeline is prepped, you can add the video clips to it.

Step 2: Trim Your Video

Before you make an motion effects, make sure that the video is edited at the points it needs to play back at.

Step 3: Open the Video in the Viewer

Move the Playhead on the Timeline to the beginning of the clip you wish to add motion to. Then, double click the clip to open it in the Viewer. You will notice that the scrub bar in the viewer has tiny sprocket holes similar to film. This indicates that you are editing a clip from the Timeline in the Viewer as opposed to editing a clip from the Browser. Once the clip is in the Viewer, select the Motion Tab. The Motion Tab allows you to control the rotation, scale, and position of a video clip. 

Step 4: Working in the Canvas

An easy way to create a motion path while seeing what is visually happening is to work with your image in the Canvas. Since the video is being worked on in the viewer, it should also be visible in the Canvas. In the Canvas, you will notice three pill shaped buttons above your video clip. Click and hold down the one with a square in it. Select 'Image + Wire Frame'. There should now be an 'X' over your image.

Step 5: Creating Keyframes

Go back to the Viewer and locate the Center field in the Basic Motions section. There will be a diamond shaped button there. This button creates key frames. You will set one at the very first frame of your clip and one at the very last frame. After you set these, you will notice small triangles to the left and right of the keyframe button. These allow you to quickly jump to keyframes in your clip.

Step 6: Creating Motion

Move the playhead to the first keyframe. Change the scale value, and drag the clip in the Canvas to the position you want it to start at. Then, jump to the second keyframe, change the scale, and move the position. When you play the clip back, it will now have motion.

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