Creating Multiple Keyframes At Once

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the April, 2006, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]


Here’s a technique you can use to set motion keyframes in multiple clips at the same time in a sequence. Then, a modification of this technique that gives you more control over the keyframes you set. To do this, we will learn how to set keyframes in the timeline.

When I’m creating motion effects, I’m working almost exclusively in the Viewer, so I don’t use Timeline keyframe editing very much. (Actually, I’m being polite. It’s been years since I’ve edited keyframes in the timeline.)

Still, there are some tricks you can do in the timeline that just can’t be done in the Viewer. And I’m indebted to the new Apple text book on Advanced Color Correction and Effects in Final Cut Pro 5 (published by Peachpit Press), which I’ve recently been reading, for pointing out the error of my ways. This technique shows off the power of setting keyframes from the timeline.

Here’s how it works.

I’ve created a sequence of four clips in the timeline. Let’s say that I want them to all scale to different sizes, but the scaling all starts and ends at the same time. (By the way, there is no limit to the number of clips you can use in this technique, nor do they all have to be the same length. I just arbitrarily decided to use four.)

Put your playhead where you want the keyframes to be placed, then select the clips to which you want to apply the keyframes. In this case, I want to leave the bottom track untouched, so I selected the top three tracks.

In the lower right corner of the Canvas, click the “Add Motion keyframe” button.

Double-click a clip to load it into the Viewer and notice that keyframes have been added to every parameter in Basic Motion, Crop, and Distort. This technique does not set keyframes in filters, nor in other motion tab parameters.

Modification #1 – Editing keyframes in the Timeline

In the lower left corner, click on the “Toggle Clip Keyframes” button to turn on keyframe editing in the timeline. This step allows you to modify keyframes in the timeline.

Control+click on the button and Select None to uncheck all the options, then turn on only the Motion Bar. This step, reduces the clutter in the Timeline and the amount of vertical space each track requires.

Double-click a clip, in this case I used the top clip, to load it into the Viewer. Click on the Motion tab and change the scale to some number other than 100%. In this case, I used 50%. Notice that in the gray bar below the clip, a blue line appears. This represents all the motion effects applied to this clip. Your keyframe is now displayed in the timeline.

In the Viewer, I set another keyframe in the Scale parameter.

Notice, back in the Timeline, that there are now TWO keyframes indicated. And, here’s the cool part. Using the arrow (selection) tool, grab the blue line and drag it back and forth. You are now sliding your keyframes earlier or later in the Timeline; without going up to the Viewer!

Modification #2 – Setting just one keyframe from the timeline

There is one problem with this approach, however. Using the “Add Motion Keyframe” button in the Canvas sets 14 different keyframes (um, I just counted them). That’s a lot. It would be much better if you could just set the keyframes you needed, instead of everything. You can, and here’s how.

First, make sure at least one clip is selected and that the playhead is positioned where you want the keyframe to appear. Control+click on the Add Motion keyframe button and select “Keyframe All” to turn everything off. This screen shot illustrates the “before” and “after” you select Keyframe All.

Now, Control+click the Add Motion keyframe button and select, in this example, Scale.

Make sure the selected clip is loaded into the Viewer and see that only a scale keyframe has been applied to the selected clip. This is a GREAT technical to quickly add the same keyframe, say scale, at the position of the playhead to a variety of selected clips.

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