Animating Layers and Groups with Keyframes
To animate the layer positions, you’ll give each layer a new Position Z value on the first frame. Then, you’ll animate the rotation of the group containing the layers to add a nice spin to the overall animation as the layers assemble themselves.
- With the playhead at the first frame of the project, select the lowest layer in the Graphics Under group. In the Inspector, drag right in the Position Z value field to set it to about 1,000 pixels, enough to make the layer disappear off the edge of the Canvas.
- Continue up the group, selecting the next brayer layers individually, and setting a Position Z value for each one at around 1,000 to 2,000 pixels, until each one is offscreen. Give each layer a different Position Z value to spread them out.
- When you get to the two vellum layers, Shift-click each to select it, and then change both their values at the same time so that they will stay together as they move.
- Continue to the layers in the Graphics Over group, selecting each layer in the group and changing its initial Position Z value to move it off the screen. When you are done, you should see nothing but the background image in the Canvas.
- Play the project. The layers all move into position and come to a soft landing. Why don’t they stop abruptly like the curtains in the last exercise?
- Select all the animated layers in the two groups, press Command-8 to open the Keyframe Editor, and drag up on the divider to make the window taller.
The red motion paths in the Canvas are straight lines that indicate the path of travel. The orange keyframe curves in the Keyframe Editor indicate how the speed of each layer changes over time. They are curved because the default interpolation for the Position parameters is Bezier (most other parameters have a default interpolation of Linear).
It’s nice that the layers already come to smooth landings, but you can take the animation a step further by rotating the layers into position. You can achieve this action by animating the group containing all layers.
To rotate the group containing all the layers, let’s work backward from its final value. You want to move the playhead to 5:00, the same frame as the other keyframes. Rather than entering a time value, you can jump the playhead directly to a keyframe.
- In the Properties pane, click the Animation pop-up menu for Position Z and choose Next Keyframe, or press Shift-K.
- Select the Graphics and Stills group, and in the Properties pane, set a keyframe for the Rotation parameter of the group by clicking the gray diamond next to the Animation pop-up menu.
- Move the playhead to the start of the project, set an initial keyframe for the rotation of the group, and then set the Rotation value to −90 degrees. Notice the straight sloped line for the Rotation parameter in the Keyframe Editor, indicating a linear interpolation.
- Play the project.
All the layers now rotate as they fall into position. However, they all come in at pretty much the same time, and land without much punch. You’ll now work in both the Keyframe Editor and the Timing pane to liven things up.