Animation Timeline

Explore the features and options on the animation timeline.

Animation Timeline and Play Options

The animation timeline is located at the bottom of the modeling window.

Option Description
Current Time

Drag the Current Time slider to change the time in the animation.

Alternatively, click a time to change the current time. For example, if you click 5s, the animation will skip to the key frame at the 5 second mark.

Start Time

Drag the Start Time slider to change the starting time of the animation.
End Time

Drag the End Time slider to change the ending time of the animation.

A key frame is a specific value that the property must have at a certain time. The list of key frames for a property is contained in a channel.

Each key frame is represented by a diamond.

  • To display information about a key frame, hover over it.
  • To select a key frame, click it. The key frame turns from green to yellow. To select all key frames, use box selection.
    • To add to the selection, hold down Ctrl while clicking another key frame
    • To remove from the selection, hold down Shift while clicking the key frame you want to remove.
  • To move one or more key frames, drag the selected key frames.
Zoom Drag left to zoom in on individual frames so you can see the frame # and time in seconds.

Drag right to zoom out.

Scroll bar Use the scroll bar to scroll left or right along the animation timeline.
Go to beginning of the animation.
Go back one frame in the animation.
Play the animation.
Go forward one frame in the animation.
Go to the end of the animation.
Play Mode

Normal: Play the key frames in chronological order. This is the default play mode.

Loop: Play the animation over and over again.

Back and Forth: When the animation is played to the end, play it backwards to the beginning. Then repeat.

Set KF Set the key frame.
Del selected KFs Delete the selected key frames.

Context Menu Options

Right-click a key frame or the timeline itself to display a context menu with additional options.

Option Description
Move Keyframes Specify absolute time.
Copy Keyframes Copy the selected key frames.
Keyframe In → Out This option defines how the channel is interpolated going towards the key frame and how it is interpolated moving past the keyframe.

For example, for the Position channel, using Linear - Smooth means that the position is interpolated linearly (straight line) for the part that precedes the key frame and smoothly (curved smooth line) for the part the follows the key frame.

On the other hand, for Step, let's say there are two key frames, A and B. The object doesn't move between A and B like it does for linear and smooth types of interpolation. The object will disappear from A and appear at B.

  • Linear - Linear
  • Linear - Smooth
  • Linear - Step
  • Smooth - Linear
  • Smooth - Smooth
  • Smooth - Step
Keyframe Speed This option defines how the speed changes from one key frame to the next.
  • Zero: The speed is zero for the whole span. For example, for the Position channel, the object stays fixed at the position specified for the key frame, and then moves immediately to the position of the next key frame when the Current Time reaches the next key frame.
  • Constant: The speed is constant along the span.
  • Easy In: The speed starts from zero at the key frame position, and then increases to reach the nominal speed at the next key frame.
  • Easy Out: The speed starts from the nominal speed, then decreases to zero at the next key frame.
  • Easy In Out: A combination of Easy In and Easy Out. The speed starts from zero, reaches the nominal speed halfway, and then decreases to zero at the next key frame.
Remove All Keyframes Remove all of the key frames from the time line.
Remove Channels Remove some channels, not all. For example, Position and Rotation.
Pre-Post Behavior

Define what the object does before the first key frame and after the last key frame. This is especially helpful when you are working with repetitive animations that don’t need intervention. Otherwise, you'd need to copy and paste the key frames multiple times or do additional work in a post-processing environment.

  • A ball rolling – You can rotate the ball and let it rotate until the end of the animation timeline.
  • A pendulum swinging – You can animate one half of it and repeat the rest without using more key frames.
  • A car moving – You can set one key frame and allow it to continue constantly after the last key frame.

To define the pre-behavior and post-behavior for the Position, Rotation, and Scale channels, choose from:

  • Reset: Reset the channels to their default values. Position is reset to the origin, Rotation is reset to 0, and Scale is reset to 0.
  • Constant: If the Current Time precedes the first key frame, the channels will have the same values as the first key frame. If the Current Time is after the last key frame, the channels will have the same values as the last key frame (for example, the object remains in the same position that was set in the last key frame).
  • Repeat: The animation is repeated in a loop (see example above: a ball rolling).
  • Mirror: The animation is repeated in a back and forth loop (see example above: a pendulum swinging).
  • Linear: The values before and after the first and last key frames are linearly interpolated using the first two key frames or using the last two key frames (see example above: a car moving).