How to Create Keyframe Animations in KeyShot

KeyShot's new Keyframe Animation is an easy to use animation feature that allows you to capture your geometry’s position with sequences of keyframes along a timeline. Complex animations would usually take a lot of work with multiple translation and rotation animations but keyframes simplify the setup and add more animation capabilities to speed the process.

KeyShot Keyframe Animation

A Keyframe Animation is defined by Keyframe points that record an objects position, rotation and scale, at a specific point in time. Once your Keyframe Animation has been created, you can continue by creating additional keyframe points. Let's walk through the process with an example where we need really tight, fluid motion. But before we go any further, if you want to test out keyframes using my completed scene from this video, you can grab it from the KeyShot Scenes page.


Start Your Keyframe Animation

To start a Keyframe Animation, open with the Animation Wizard or right-click on your model or part in the Scene Tree and select Add Animation, Keyframe. Your very first keyframe will be created wherever the playhead is located on the Animation Timeline. This initial keyframe captures the current position of your model in the scene.

Now, at this point there are two different workflows for creating the entire keyframe animation path, Add Keyframe and Keyframe Record Mode. They are the same in moving the playhead along the timeline and adjusting your model position, and only differ in the keyframe being added manually or automatically. The workflow for each would look something like:

Add Keyframe: move playhead, add keyframe, adjust model position, repeat.
Keyframe Record Mode: move playhead, adjust model position, repeat.

First, let’s go over Add Keyframe.

Add Keyframe

After creating your initial keyframe, move the playhead out (for example, to the 1 second mark) and select Add Keyframe from the Animation Timeline toolbar. This will create a new keyframe at the selected time and capture the position of the previous keyframe to start your path. It will also automatically launch the Move Tool with features that make creating keyframe animations more efficient, especially Position settings. (View Move Toll Improvements on YouTube.)

With the new keyframe highlighted, use the rotation and translation handles of the Move Tool gizmo that appears over your model to  change the position of your model. Notice how the Position settings update as the model is moved. You can make really precise adjustments here and they will be reflected in real-time for the keyframe. As long as you don’t hit Cancel, all of the position changes will remain. This is important because you don’t have to press OK to view/play the animation. Just go straight to scrubbing through the animation (i.e. moving the playhead along the Animation Timeline) to see if the motion is what you expect!

Keyframe Record Mode

The second workflow option is to create the keyframe animation with Keyframe Record Mode. Keyframe Record Mode automatically captures any changes to the position of your geometry as a new keyframe if a keyframe does not already exist at that time.

Enable Keyframe Record Mode on the Animation Timeline toolbar. Next, drag the playhead to a new time, move your object, and the keyframe is automatically created for you. As mentioned above, this removes the Add Keyframe step, allowing you to save time and focus on timing and position. This is a helpful method when creating really long keyframe animations or creating and initial animation you will go back through and refine. Note: If you do in fact move the playhead to an area where a keyframe already exists, any changes you make will be captured as edits to that preexisting keyframe.

Keep in mind, with KeyShot Record Mode enabled, any position changes to your parts will be remembered. Even if the Animation Timeline is closed and parts are moved, that change will be captured in a keyframe. So, before editing your scene, be sure to disable Keyframe Record Mode.

Edit Keyframe Position and Timing

If you want to edit a keyframe, just select it and make your adjustments with the Move Tool. If you decide you don’t want those changes, select Cancel. When you drag a keyframe along the timeline it will change the timing of the animation. This will not alter the position of the geometry but will speed up or slow down the time between keyframes. If you want something to move faster, for example, you could drag one keyframe closer to the another.

Adding Other Animation Types

You can add other animation types with keyframes as long as they are not on the same level in the Scene Tree hierarchy. This means you can’t add two keyframe animations to the same part or add both a keyframe animation and a rotation animation to the same part. This is due to the keyframe animation taking precedence over any other animation type. What you can do is add different animation types to separate parts in the Scene Tree. In the example model, a rotation animation was added to the propeller which works nicely with the keyframe animation that was applied to the entire model.

Keyframe Animation Properties

When you select the keyframe animation on the Animation Timeline, the Animation Properties will appear. You’ll see the only parameter here is this Tension slider. This slider controls the smoothness of the keyframe path, where a value of 1 results in a very sharp, tight motion and a value of 0 provides a more rounded, loose motion between keyframes.

You can also add a Motion Ease option to the Keyframe Animation where the Custom option allows you to adjust the motion easing curve for the animation. However, be aware that this could cause some unwanted behavior in your animation, especially if the curve dips and goes backwards in time. If you want to use Custom motion easing, enable it towards the end of creating your animation, when most of these keyframes are already set to your liking.

Other Keyframe Animation Tips

Lastly, let’s take a look at the Animation Timeline itself and go over a couple small tips to help you out. Right-click to add a keyframe at any point on the timeline or to copy and paste a keyframe. When you click off/deselect a keyframe the yellow path in the Real-time View will be hidden, helping to view the animation without the path visible.

Finally, know that you can’t multi-select keyframes in KeyShot 10, but is something to look forward to in 10.1. For now, any large adjustments to the overall timing should be made within the Time Settings in the Animation Properties, or add the keyframes to a folder for full control over over all the keyframes it contains.

There are a lot of possibilities and more to come with Keyframe Animation in KeyShot. We're looking forward to seeing what you create! You can learn more about KeyShot Animation in the KeyShot Manual.

What Can You Create?

We would love to see what you create with this tip. Visit the KeyShot Amazing Shots forum to see what others are creating and share your own work. And if you have a suggestion for another tip share it in the comments below.

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