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Final Cut Express Quick Tip

Setting keyframes By Stephen Schleicher

I received an e-mail from a reader who was having trouble creating keyframes in Final Cut Express 2.  While the principle of creating keyframes is the same for any animation package or non-linear editing system, for those using Final Cut Express 2 for the first time, it could be a bit confusing.  In this Final Cut Express Quick Tip, Ill walk you through the steps.

In Final Cut Pro, all controls for keyframing are found in the Motion Tab.  If we compare the Motion Tab of Final Cut Pro to that of Final Cut Express, we find something missing namely the keyframing controls.

Final Cut Pro Motion Tab interface.


The Motion Tab in Final Cut Express 2 indicates something is missing.

Final Cut Express takes a different approach to animating properties.  Instead of clicking on the create new keyframe icon for each property, you click on the Add Motion Keyframe icon in either the Canvas Window or the Viewer Window.

How does this work?  One way I like to define keyframes is ?key positions in time.  This means that we must first move to a point in time and then define the (key) position for the layer or property.

In this example, I will be sliding a text layer, created with Text 3D, from the screen right to screen center.  The text layer is on Video Layer 2.

Step 1:  Begin by turning on Image+Wireframe in the Canvas Window.  Since we are dealing with text, we should also turn on the Title Safe overlay.

Step 2:  In the Timeline, move the Timeline Indicator to the point in time where you want the layer to start.  Remember; time first, then position (or property).

Step 3:  In the Canvas Window move the text layer out of frame to the right.  You may need to change the magnification of the window to see outside of the frame.  When the layer is where you want it to begin, click on the Add Motion Keyframe icon.

Step 4:  In the Timeline, move the Timeline Indicator to the point in time where you want the layer to come to a rest.

Step 5:  In the Canvas Window, click and drag the layer to a new position.  You will notice that there is a line of dots that extend from your first keyframe (green dot) to the new location.

This is your motion path.  The knots represent the frames between the first keyframe this new one.  The closer the knots are the slower the motion of the layer, the further apart the layers are the faster the motion of the layer.

Once you have created an initial keyframe you do not have to click on the Add Motion Keyframe icon again as Final Cut Express will automatically create the keyframe for you.

Step 6: Finally, if you would like to create a more natural motion path, Right+Click on the ending keyframe and select Ease In/Ease Out.

This will cause the layer motion to come to a natural stop instead of an abrupt halt.

While animating the Position property of a layer is very easy, the same principle can be applied to scale, rotation, and opacity.  Experiment on your own to see what kind of complex motions you can create in Final Cut Express.

For those using Final Cut Pro, or thinking of migrating to the application, check out the complete Final Cut Pro Quick Tips over at my site (www.mindspring.com/~schleicher).


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Stephen Schleicher has crossed the country several times over the last couple of years going from Kansas to Atlanta , Georgia, and Southern California. In his time traveling, he has worked as an editor, graphic designer, videographer, director, and producer on a variety of video productions ranging from small internal pieces, to large multimedia
corporate events.

Currently, Stephen shares his knowledge with students at Fort Hays State University who are studying media and web development in the Information Networking and Telecommunications department. When he is not shaping the minds of university students, Stephen continues to work on video and independent projects for State and local agencies and organizations as well as his own ongoing works.

He is also a regular contributor to Digital Producer, Creative Mac, Digital Webcast, Digital Animators, and the DV Format websites, part of the Digital Media Online network of communities (www.digitalmedianet.com), where he writes about the latest technologies, and gives tips and tricks on everything from Adobe After Effects, to Appleā??s Final Cut Pro, LightWave 3D, to shooting and lighting video.

He has a Masters Degree in Communication from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. As a forward thinker, he wrote his Thesis on how Information Islands and e-commerce would play a major role in keeping smaller communities alive. This of course was when 28.8 dialup was king and people hadnā??t even invented the word e-commerce.

And, he spends what little free time he has biking, reading, traveling around the country, and contemplating the future of digital video and its impact on our culture. You can reach him at schleicher@mindspring.com

Related Keywords:Apple, final cut express 2, non-linear editing, keyframes, motion path, editing, graphics

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