What are keyframes in animation? The keyframe is one of the simplest tricks to creating magical movies. In order to create animations, effects, and motion graphics, it is a necessary component. Keyframes are used to control animated objects in videos if there are any.

What are Keyframes in Animation? 5 Popular Effects
What are Keyframes in Animation? 5 Popular Effects

Continue reading to discover what keyframes are and discover 5 of the most well-known effects you can make using them.

What are keyframes in animation?

A keyframe is a location (one frame) on a video timeline where the video editing software is instructed to apply a certain set of characteristics. Scale, rotation, opacity, and volume are examples of common attributes.

The change in a property setting between two keyframes is referred to as keyframe animation. The goal is to start a change in your video that happens over a predetermined period of time.

This modification could involve altering the image’s magnification or scale (zooming in or out), changing how the image is framed (moving it inside the frame), rotating the image, altering its color, fading in or out, or altering the soundtrack.

Keyframes can be used to animate just about any setting you can specify in the timeline.

For some of our examples in this post, we’ll be using the free video editors PowerDirector and ColorDirector. You should be able to use the concepts we discuss in your video editors if you already have video software.

>>>Read more: What is the highest grossing animated film of all time?

The origin of keyframes in animation

Although the term “keyframes” is now frequently used in connection with video editing, they were first used in animation years before the advent of digital video editing. However, you may already have a decent understanding of what a keyframe in animation is if you are familiar with keyframes in the context of editing.

Each frame of a conventional animated film is hand-drawn. Check out our articles on cel animation, rotoscope animation, and stop-motion animation to find out more about various animation styles.

Animation has high demands and takes a long time to produce, hence those movies are often created by a team of artists. Having the lead animators draw the most crucial frames and junior animators do the transitional frames between them is an effective technique to both save time and guarantee quality.

Keyframes are the significant frames that the lead animators drew. In-betweens are the transitional frames that joined the several keyframes together.

It is standard procedure to start by creating the keyframes, then go back and add the in-betweens, even if a single artist is drawing the entire scenario.

>>>Read more: 5 things to remember as collaborating with an animation studio

Changes you can make with keyframes in animation

Keyframes allow you to control more than simply positional adjustments. A parameter is any aspect of an animated object that can be changed with keyframes.

These consist of elements like Opacity, Position, Scale, Rotation, and Anchor Point. Before setting up your keyframes, you can change the parameter values for movement-based modifications like Position or Rotation by simply clicking and dragging the item.

>>>Read more: Morphing in Animation: Detailed Explain and Guide

5 popular effects you can create with keyframes in animation

Moving Lens Flare

It can be dramatic to add a lens flare to your video, and it stands out even more if it moves when you pan the camera or track your subject.

Open your video clip in ColorDirector to generate this effect. At the very top of the screen, select the Effect tab. Select the section for light effects. Select Lens Flare from the list of Light Effects. You can choose the lens type, size, brightness, background-blending settings, position, and more in this window.

A clock icon may be found directly beneath the Adjustment tab at the top of the screen. This is ColorDirector’s keyframe editor. A tiny timeline with possibilities to set keyframes for each of the parameters will emerge when you click to open.

Set the size of the lens flare to zero at the beginning of the clip. Then move the lens flare size slider up to a higher number, like 35, and advance the timeline by one or two seconds. The lens flare will now “grow” into view after first being undetectable.

Drop down to the X position and Y position sliders after moving the timeline playhead forward by five to eight seconds. Sliders should be moved to the right. As the timeframe advances, this will cause the lens flare to travel to the right and downward.

Play around with the other settings to see how they affect the lens flare.

Title Reveal Mask

What happens if you want the title to appear from somewhere else on the screen? A Title Reveal Mask can be used to do that. It is a choice in the Title Designer menu. As soon as your clip and title are ready, double-click on the title track in the timeline to open the Title Designer Menu. From there, you may go down to Title Reveal Mask.

At the top of the section, choose the checkbox by Title Reveal Mask. Your video will acquire a mask as a result. You can size and position the mask using its handles, which are attached to it by a thin dotted line.

Place the mask over the title so it will show up there after it has completed traveling around the screen. Make the mask slightly larger in size than the title.

Move the title outside of the masked area by selecting “Object Settings” > “Position” on the left-hand menu. This will make the title “hidden.” Set a keyframe for the title’s new location.

Place the playhead where you want the title to appear after it has been revealed in the timeline. At that time in the timeline, create a keyframe for the title and place it there. The title will now appear when the clip plays by transitioning from the “hidden” region to the visible area.

Tracking Motion

Making a keyframe animation and using PowerDirector’s motion tracking tool is equally straightforward. Add a clip to the timeline first, then click on it to select it. Just above the timeline, look. Press and hold the “Tools” menu button.

You have a variety of tools to pick from in the popup menu. Choosing “Motion Tracker” A panel for the motion tracker will appear. It has motion tracker controls and a viewer for the video clip you chose.

Click “Add a tracker” underneath the viewer. Your video will show the tracker, a rectangular box with handles. The tracker box can be adjusted using the handles to fit the item you wish to track rather tightly.

Now click the “Track” button in the motion tracker viewer panel, which is located to the left of the timeline. Your box will now follow the object you chose as the video clip rolls. Try shrinking the box, zooming in on a specific part of the item, or adding a splash of a vibrant color if the box is not closely following the object.

Now you may utilize the tracker to customize the tracker box by adding a caption, a video or picture, or an effect (such as blur, mosaic, or spotlight). Your title or effect will stay on the monitored object.

Keyframes are automatically generated when you track and applied when you click “Ok,” which is why it does this. To view the scale and position keyframes created, double-click on the newly inserted tracked item on your timeline to launch Title or PiP Designer.

Animated Light Rays

Open a clip in ColorDirector as above, then select Effects > Light Effects > Single Source Light Rays to create animated light rays—light streaks that travel over the image.

Set the threshold, softness (set to zero while developing this effect so you can see the rays), softness intensity, and length of the rays. The keyframe icon (clock) is located underneath the Adjustment tab at the top of the screen. Click it as described above.

The keyframe timeline will then be displayed. Simply reduce the intensity to zero to begin your clip without any rays. Then advance a few seconds and up the ante on the intensity. As the playhead approaches the keyframe that ColorDirector has specified, the intensity of the beams will rise.

Grab the tiny sunburst visible on the viewer’s image to move the rays around. The rays are coming out of that location. The rays follow the sunburst if you move it to a different area of the image, and ColorDirector will create a keyframe there.

To get better at it, try starting the clip with the rays at the very left edge and moving them all the way to the right edge. The rays will move across the picture from left to right when you play it again.

Title Zoom

One of the simplest and most fundamental keyframe animations is this one. It functions just like the picture zooms above, with the exception that you scale a title up or down rather than an image.

Create a title by dragging one from the Title Room onto your timeline. The Title Designer dialog panel will now appear when you double-click the title on the timeline. Choose “Advanced” from the menu at the panel’s top. More settings will be available as a result.

To the Object Settings, scroll down. The title’s position, opacity, rotation, and scale (magnification) can all be adjusted in this panel.

Select the location on the timeline on which you want the title to start zooming in order to do so. Trimming the timeline’s title to the desired location will make this process simpler.

To add a keyframe and choose the scale you wish to start with, click the keyframe icon at zoom’s starting point. The handles around the title can be used to scale it up or down, however when doing so, you can’t set the scale to less than.4. You can adjust it to its minimum, which is.2, using the dialog box or the scale sliders.

The play should now be advanced to the location where the zoom should terminate. Here, add another keyframe. Increase the size now by using the handles, dialog box, or sliders. 

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Keyframes in the modern age

Keyframes are still employed in computer animation even though hand-drawn animated films are no longer common. Keyframes are still crucial in today’s world; the only thing that has changed is how they are made.

However, keyframes are no longer limited to animation. Keyframes have been a crucial component of traditional video editing since the introduction of non-linear editing software and video editing apps. The literal meaning hasn’t changed – a frame marks the beginning or finish of a transition – but it now appears differently and can be used in new situations.

Keyframes can be used to adjust a video transition or set the parameters for motion when utilized in the context of video editing. Or they might manage timed changes made to video effect settings.

Working with keyframes is made easier by modern technology because the editing program can automatically fill in all of those annoying in-betweens, saving you a ton of time and work.


Now you have already known what are keyframes in animation. Your films can easily gain interest by using keyframe animations. They’re easy to execute and can give your creation some high-end shine.

To put the tips you gained in this article to use, download PowerDirector and ColorDirector. Both are accessible in Director Suite 365, a full-featured editing studio for audio, video, and photos.

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