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Basic Key Framing in Motion 5
Ben Balser on Tue, August 20th 0 comments
It's easier than you think to create and manipulate keyframes in Apple's Motion 5. Ben Balser takes you through the essential techniques that'll have your video projects looking sleek and cool.

Creating and manipulating keyframes in Motion is very easy. In this article, I'll show you the very basic techniques to help you utilize these vital tools like a pro.

Project Setup

I'll keep things really simple for this article. Create a generic Motion project of 720 HD, 30 FPS, 5 seconds long. Once opened, use Shift-Z to fit the Canvas to its window. Verify the playhead is at the start of the timeline. Command-2 for the Library tab, in the left column select Content, in the right column select Vector Art, in the lower listing select the 3D Ball. Apply this to our default Group. 

Pic 1

Inspector Keyframe Diamonds

You can create and manipulate keyframes with the Keyframe Diamonds in the Inspector. With the 3D Ball layer selected, F1 to the Properties tab, open the disclosure arrows to the left of each header for Position and Rotation.

When you mouse over each parameter to its right, you will see a gray keyframe diamond appear. Rule 1; The first keyframe set for a specific parameter must be done manually. Set the following parameters and click the keyframe diamond for each so it shows as yellow. Position X -6625, Y -350, Rotation Z 360, Scale 0. Orange means these parameters have these values locked-in, or 'keyed', at this specific frame in the Timeline.

Pic 2

Move the playhead to 2 seconds and 15 frames in the Timeline. Rule 2; After the initial keyframe for a specific parameter is set, changes to that parameter on other frames automatically create a new keyframe. Now change all of the keyframed parameters to 0, except Scale, which should be changed to 65. Notice the instant you enter a new parameter value, the keyframe diamond changes to orange.

Canvas Overlays

An easy method of adding more keyframes is by using the Canvas overlays. Move the playhead to the end of the Timeline. Grab a blue corner controller of the 3D Ball layer's Canvas overlay, hold the Shift key and pull towards the center to make it about half of its current size. Grab the center of the Ball and pull it to the upper right corner of the canvas.

Pic 3

Notice the red line that shows the movement path our position keyframes created? Place your mouse cursor over it, about half way between the first (lower left) and middle (center) keyframe dots. Hold the Option key and the cursor becomes a fountain pen's head. Click to create a new Position keyframe there. Grab that keyframe and pull it towards the upper left of the Canvas. The lines extending out to each side are Bezier Handles. Feel free to grab them and experiment. You can right-click on the keyframe dots themselves to change the keyframe from Linear (angled path with no bezier handles) to Smooth (curved path with bezier handles). Delete erases the keyframe. Lock insures you don't accidentally move it. Disable makes it inactive, but still visible, for re-use later.

Pic 4

Keyframe Navigation

You can jump between keyframes by clicking the arrow heads to the left and right of each active keyframe diamond in the Inspector. They indicate which direction from the current playhead position you have more active keyframes. The keyboard shortcut to jump between keyframes are Option-K to move backwards through the timeline, and Shift-K to move forward through the timeline. Navigate to the center keyframe on our red Position keyframe line in the canvas.

Keyframe Editor

Bring up the Keyframe Editor with Command-8 or its button in the lower right of the Motion window. Drag the horizontal bar between it and the Timeline upwards to give you more room to work in.

Pic 5

Make sure the upper left pop-up menu of the keyframe editor is set to Animated, which limits your view to only parameters that have keyframes assigned (animations). The checkboxes to each parameter's left turns its visibility on and off. This can help avoid confusing them in the editor's timeline. You can Command-Click to choose several parameters at once to change them altogether.

Pic 6

To the right of each keyframe diamond is a tiny menu arrow, from this menu go to Interpolation. Constant keeps the previous parameter steady, changing abruptly at the new keyframe. Linear creates an angled line, a sharp change. Bezier creates a curved line, a smooth change.

Pic 7

You can click once on any keyframe dot in the editor's Timeline, and use Command with the arrow keys to effect that keyframe. Left/right changes where in time the keyframe sits, up/down changes its value.


There is so much more to keyframing than this short article could ever possibly cover. With only these basics you are well armed to attack keyframing with surgical precision, super speed, and great ease. Now go create some amazing animations!

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