Speed

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Control speed between keyframes

When you animate a property in the Graph Editor, you can view and adjust the rate of change (speed) of the property in the speed graph. You can also adjust speed for spatial properties in the motion path in the Composition or Layer panel.

In the Composition or Layer panel, the spacing between dots in a motion path indicates speed. Each dot represents a frame, based on the frame rate of the composition. Even spacing indicates a constant speed, and wider spacing indicates a higher speed. Keyframes using Hold interpolation display no dots because there is no intermediate transition between keyframe values; the layer simply appears at the position specified by the next keyframe. (See Motion paths.)

Controlling speed between keyframes: Motion path in Composition panel (top) compared to speed graph in Graph Editor (bottom)
Motion path in Composition panel (top) compared to speed graph in Graph Editor (bottom) 

A. Dots are close together, indicating lower speed (top); speed is constant (bottom). B. Dots are far apart, indicating greater speed (top); speed is constant (bottom). C. Inconsistent spacing of dots indicates changing speed (top); speed decreases and then increases (bottom). 

For information about keyframe interpolation, see Keyframe interpolation.

The following factors affect the speed at which a property value changes:

  • The time difference between keyframes in the Timeline panel. The shorter the time interval between keyframes, the more quickly the layer has to change to reach the next keyframe value. If the interval is longer, the layer changes more slowly, because it must make the change over a longer period of time. You can adjust the rate of change by moving keyframes forward or backward along the timeline.

  • The difference between the values of adjacent keyframes. A large difference between keyframe values, such as the difference between 75% and 20% opacity, creates a faster rate of change than a smaller difference, such as the difference between 30% and 20% opacity. You can adjust the rate of change by increasing or decreasing the value of a layer property at a keyframe.

  • The interpolation type applied for a keyframe. For example, it is difficult to make a value change smoothly through a keyframe when the keyframe is set to Linear interpolation, but you can switch to Bezier interpolation at any time, which provides a smooth change through a keyframe. If you use Bezier interpolation, you can adjust the rate of change even more precisely using direction handles.

Linear interpolation (top) causes sharp changes; Bezier interpolation (bottom) creates smoother changes
Linear interpolation (top) causes sharp changes; Bezier interpolation (bottom) creates smoother changes.

Control speed between keyframes without using the speed graph

  • In the Composition or Layer panel, adjust the spatial distance between two keyframes on the motion path. Increase speed by moving one keyframe position farther away from the other, or decrease speed by moving one keyframe position closer to the other.
More spatial distance between keyframes increases layer speed
More spatial distance between keyframes increases layer speed.

  • In layer bar mode or in the Graph Editor, adjust the time difference between two keyframes. Decrease speed by moving one keyframe farther away from the other, or increase speed by moving one keyframe closer to the other.
Shorter temporal distance between keyframes increases layer speed
Shorter temporal distance between keyframes increases layer speed.

  • Apply the Easy Ease keyframe assistant, which automatically adjusts the speed of change as motion advances toward and retreats from a keyframe.

About the speed graph

You can fine-tune changes over time using the speed graph in the Graph Editor. The speed graph provides information about and control of the value and rate of change for all spatial and temporal values at any frame in a composition.

In the speed graph, changes in the graph height indicate changes in speed. Level values indicate constant speed; higher values indicate increased speed.

To view the speed graph, choose Edit Speed Graph from the Choose Graph Type menu .

Speed graph controls
Speed graph controls

A. Value at the current-time indicator B. Speed graph C. Direction handle (controls speed) 

By adjusting the rise and fall of the speed graph, you can control how quickly or slowly a value changes from keyframe to keyframe. You can control the values approaching and leaving a keyframe together, or you can control each value separately. The incoming handle increases the speed or velocity when you drag it up, and decreases the speed or velocity when you drag it down. The outgoing handle influences the next keyframe in the same way. You can also control the influence on speed by dragging the handles left or right.

Direction handles in speed graphs
Direction handles in speed graphs

A. Incoming direction handle B. Speed control C. Outgoing direction handle 

Note:

If you want a handle to have influence over more than one keyframe, use roving keyframes.

Control speed with the speed graph

  1. In the Timeline panel, expand the outline for the keyframe you want to adjust.
  2. Click the Graph Editor button and select Edit Speed Graph from the Graph Type And Options menu .
  3. Using the Selection tool, click the keyframe you want to adjust.
  4. (Optional) Do one of the following:
    • To split the incoming and outgoing direction handles, Alt-drag (Windows) or Option-drag (Mac OS) a direction handle.

    • To join the direction handles, Alt-drag (Windows) or Option-drag (Mac OS) a split direction handle up or down until it meets the other handle.

  5. Do any of the following:
    • Drag a keyframe with joined direction handles up to accelerate or down to decelerate entering and leaving the keyframe.

    • Drag a split direction handle up to accelerate or down to decelerate the speed entering or leaving a keyframe.

    • To increase the influence of the keyframe, drag the direction handle away from the center of the keyframe. To decrease the influence, drag the direction handle toward the center of the keyframe.

    Note:

    When you drag a direction handle beyond the top or bottom of the Graph Editor with Auto Zoom Graph Height on, After Effects calculates a new minimum or maximum value based on how far you dragged outside the graph, and it redraws the graph so that all the values you specify for that layer property are visible in the graph by default.

Create a bounce or peak

Use direction handles to simulate the type of acceleration seen in a bouncing ball. When you create this type of result, the speed graph appears to rise quickly and peak.

  1. In the Timeline panel, expand the outline for the keyframe you want to adjust.
  2. Click the Graph Editor button and display the speed graph for the property.
  3. Make sure the interpolation method for the keyframe you want to peak is set to Continuous Bezier or Bezier.
  4. Drag the desired keyframe (with joined direction handles) up until it is near the top of the graph.
  5. Drag the direction handles on either side of the keyframe toward the center of the keyframe.
    Direction handles in speed graphs
    Dragging direction handle to create a peak

Start or stop change gradually

Direction handles can create gradual starts and stops, such as a boat slowing to a stop and then starting again. When you use this technique, the speed graph resembles a smooth U shape.

  1. In the Timeline panel, expand the outline for the keyframe you want to adjust.
  2. Click the Graph Editor button and display the speed graph for the property.
  3. Make sure the interpolation method for the keyframe you want to adjust is set to Continuous Bezier or Bezier.
  4. At the desired keyframe, drag the direction handle down until it is near the bottom of the graph.
  5. Drag the direction handles on either side of the keyframe away from the center of the keyframe.
    Dragging the direction handle to make a gradual change
    Dragging the direction handle to make a gradual change

Adjust influence of a direction handle on an adjacent keyframe

Along with controlling the level of acceleration and deceleration, you can also extend the influence of a keyframe outward or inward in relation to an adjacent keyframe. Influence determines how quickly the speed graph reaches the value you set at the keyframe, giving you an additional degree of control over the shape of the graph. The direction handle increases the influence of a keyframe value in relation to the neighboring keyframe when you drag it toward the neighboring keyframe, and it decreases the influence on the neighboring keyframe when you drag it toward the center of its own keyframe.

  1. In the Timeline panel, expand the outline for the keyframe you want to adjust.
  2. Click the Graph Editor button and display the speed graph for the property.
  3. Using the Selection tool, click a keyframe and drag the direction handle left or right.

Change speed numerically

You may want to specify speed more precisely than you can by dragging keyframes in the speed graph. In such cases, specify speed numerically in the Keyframe Velocity dialog box.

The options and units in the dialog box vary depending on the layer property you are editing and may also vary for plug-ins.

  1. Display the speed graph for the keyframe you want to adjust.
  2. Select the keyframe you want to edit, and then choose Animation > Keyframe Velocity.
  3. Enter values for Speed for Incoming and Outgoing Velocity.
  4. Enter a value for Influence to specify the amount of influence toward the previous keyframe (for incoming interpolation) or the next keyframe (for outgoing interpolation).
  5. To create a smooth transition by maintaining equal incoming and outgoing velocities, select Continuous.
Note:

By default, the proportions of the current Scale or Mask Feather values are preserved as you edit the values. If you don’t want to preserve proportions, click the link icon next to the property values in the Timeline panel to remove the icon.

Automatically ease speed

Although you can manually adjust the speed of a keyframe by dragging direction handles, using Easy Ease automates the work.

After you apply Easy Ease, each keyframe has a speed of 0 with an influence of 33.33% on either side. When you ease the speed of an object, for example, the object slows down as it approaches a keyframe, and gradually accelerates as it leaves. You can ease speed when coming into or out of a keyframe, or both.

  1. In the Graph Editor or in layer bar mode, select a range of keyframes.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • Choose Animation > Keyframe Assistant > Easy Ease (to ease speed coming both into and out of selected keyframes), Easy Ease In (to ease speed coming into selected keyframes), or Easy Ease Out (to ease speed coming out of selected keyframes).

    • Click the Easy Ease , Easy Ease In , or Easy Ease Out button located at the bottom of the Graph Editor.

Create smooth motion with roving keyframes

Using roving keyframes, you can easily create smooth movement across several keyframes at once. Roving keyframes are keyframes that are not linked to a specific time; their speed and timing are determined by adjacent keyframes. When you change the position of a keyframe adjacent to a roving keyframe in a motion path, the timing of the roving keyframe may change.

Roving keyframes are available only for spatial layer properties, such as Position, Anchor Point, and effect control points. In addition, a keyframe can rove only if it is not the first or last keyframe in a layer, because a roving keyframe must interpolate its speed from the previous and next keyframes.

Smooth motion with roving keyframes
The original motion path (top) shows different velocities between keyframes. After the keyframes are set to rove (bottom), the motion path shows consistent speed over the range of keyframes.

  1. In layer bar mode or in the Graph Editor, set up the keyframes for the motion you want to smooth.
  2. Determine the beginning and ending keyframes for the range you want to smooth.
  3. Do one of the following:
    • For every keyframe in the range (except the beginning and ending keyframes), select Rove Across Time in the keyframe menu .

    • Select the keyframes you want to rove and choose Animation > Keyframe Interpolation. Then choose Rove Across Time from the Roving menu.

The intermediate keyframes adjust their positions on the timeline to smooth the speed curve between the beginning and ending keyframes.

Revert to a nonroving keyframe

  • Select the roving keyframe option from the keyframe menu, or drag the roving keyframe left or right.
  • Select the keyframes you want to change, and choose Animation > Keyframe Interpolation. Then choose Lock To Time from the Roving menu.

Use Exponential Scale to change the speed of scaling

You can simulate a realistic acceleration of a zoom lens when working with 2D layers by using Exponential Scale, which converts linear scaling of a layer to exponential scaling. Exponential Scale is useful for creating a cosmic zoom, for example. Zooming optically with a lens is not linear—the rate of change of scaling increases as you zoom in.

  1. In layer bar mode or in the Graph Editor, hold down the Shift key and select starting and ending keyframes for the scale property.
  2. Choose Animation > Keyframe Assistant > Exponential Scale.
Note:

Exponential Scale replaces any existing keyframes between the selected starting and ending keyframes.

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