Animation with Timelines
In the previous chapters, we discovered how to animate parameters with cues.
A more common way to animate parameters or bring life to a 2D or 3D compo, is to use timelines.
In Smode, every composition has a timeline embedded in it. The timeline of the root composition is called the "main timeline". The main timeline will be displayed in the timeline editor when you create a new composition.
A composition's timeline will be displayed in the timeline editor at the bottom of the screen when selecting the composition.
-You can lock the timeline editor on the current timeline by activating the lock button (circled in red on the image below)
-The name of the timeline currently displayed is written on the top left part of the editor (underlined in red)
If a composition is dragged and dropped inside of the main timeline, every animation inside of it will be driven by the newly created matching track :
A Timeline can also be created in the form of cue, or standalone animation. That means it can be used in an animation bank, or cue list (for Smode Station), just like any standard cue.
If you select an empty timeline, at first you will see an empty timeline editor:
To start animating your composition, you need to have a layer to animate. We will create two uniform layers in our currently empty composition.
Putting the view in "Normal" mode (see button [A] in previous picture), you should see your new layer in the left part of the editor. You can expand that layer to see its parameters, or its children (just like in the element editor).
There are two kind of tracks you can create in the right part of the timeline editor, each matching a specific type of object.
These can either be tracks (for layers) [A], or keyframes (for parameters) [B].
To create a track or a keyframe, use ALT + click. While pressing ALT, click on the row you wish to animate in the view.
To do so, once you got a video layer inside the element tree, just drag and drop it inside the timeline.
Now that your layer is visible inside the timeline, you can press Alt+Click on the timeline in the video layer's row and you should have a track appearing. By default the track will have the lenght of the video layer.
If you select the track itself, you can set up all kind of it's parameters such as fade-in / fade-out, begin / end , loop, etc...
Note that you can also split a track at the current time with Ctrl+Shift+D :
The timeline editor has three main components, the toolbar, the element tree (or animation tree) and the tracks / curves view.
A - The Toolbar
The toolbar has, like the other element editors, a lock and a menu buttons, and a path pointing to the edited element at its start.
After that, we can see a series of buttons dedicated to its other functionalities:
|A||Tracks / Curves switch button||Switches the editor's view between Tracks and Curves mode|
|B||Snapping on / off||Enables / Disables snapping (for tracks, keyframes and points)||Shift|
|C||Minify||Compresses vertically the track rows in order to see more tracks|
|D||Fit view to screen||Sets the zoom of the view to show all of its contents||F|
|E||Tracks View Mode||Switch between Minimal, Normal and Full objects displayed in the element tree|
|F||Timeline Transport||Controls the playback on the timeline|
B - The Element Tree
The timeline editor tree is a duplicate of the main element tree, but with a little bit more informations. Indeed, you can directly see the parameters of the elements in the tree. All parameters are not displayed; to make it easie to read, it is filtered by the Track View Mode.
You can change the Track View Mode in the timeline. It will switch between showing only animated tracks (minimal), showing usually animated tracks (normal) and showing all animable tracks (full).
Switching the order of layers and nodes in this tree will change the order of the layers and nodes in your scene.
To add to that, listed as children of the elements in your scene (layer, node, ect) are their parameters. They are all visible in Full mode.
If you want to animate a parameter, you can drag and drop it from the parameter's editor to reveal them in the animation editor tree.
C - The Tracks and Curves views
The last component of the timeline editor is the most important: the view. It allows the edition of your tracks and keyframes.
It can display an animation in two ways: the track and curve view. We will fisrt see the tracks view.
C.a - The Tracks view
(an element track with 3 parameter tracks inside it)
A track is a block matching an object or a layer. Before and after that block, the element is invisible. During it, it is visible and can be animated. The track corresponds to the "life" of the element. For a video or a timeline, it represents its transport.
You can use tracks to activate and deactivate elements to improve the performances of your compo. You can also use it to play a video, like in a standard video editing software.
(a color parameter track, and a classic parameter track)
A parameter track is a collection of keyframes. It can be contained by a parent element track, but this is not necessarily requested.
You can add keyframes by ALT clicking your track. You can select one or more keyframe(s) and its properties will be displayed in the parameters editor.
You can also control the creation and edition of keyframes with a series of buttons next to the parameter row.
|A||Type of track||
Can be Keyframe, Separate, Constant, Parametric, OwnedBuffer or Falloff. This property allows you to use another kind of track. This is usually used by advanced users.
|B||Auto-key||When this is enabled, a key will automatically be created at the current time when changing current value (D).|
|C||Keyframe Manipulator||Used to navigate between keyframes, with the left and right buttons. the central buttons informs you if there is a keyframe at the current time. Pressing it will add a key if there is none, or remove it if there is one.||
J / K / L
|D||Current value||Represents the value of the parameter at the current time. Editing that field has no repercussion unless the auto-key mode is active.|
When values do change between keyframes, the space between them is highlighted. In the case of color tracks, you can see the values of the color changing.
The transition from one value to another between keyframes is called the interpolation. Smode performs interpolations between keyframes based on different algorithms.
They can be:
|Linear (default)||A straightforward and regular movement towards the next value|
|Smooth||The movement towards the next value appears and disappears progressively|
|Step||No transition is performed at all, the next value is immediately set at the time of the keyframe|
|Bezier||A user defined point (defining a tangent) tells the curve between the keyframes how to look. This solution offers the most control over your interpolations.|
|Ease||The transition is defined by an easing equation (Sine, Quad, Cubic, Quart, Quint, Expo, Circ, Back, Elastic, Bounce).|
You can change those interpolations by selecting keyframes, in their parameters, or by right clicking them.
The look of the keyframe is generated by its interpolators:
both in and out on the left ................................. only out to the right
C.b - The Curves view
The curves view allows you to edit your track's keyframes in 2D instead of a 1D. This brings you a fine tuned control over the animation curves. To activate the mode, first click on the Curves button in the toolbar. The curves you will see in the view will be the rows you select.
You can select more than one row to see more than one curve.
Just like in the tracks view, you can ALT click the view to create a new point.
If you want to change its interpolation, right clicking a selection of keyframes will display a menu to quickly set them.
Be careful, the Ease interpolation is not offered in the right click menu yet !
You have to go to the parameters of your selected keyframe and change it with the dropdown menu for input and output interpolator types.
You can also control click a point to cycle through its interpolations :
A timeline can also be used inside another timeline. It offers the possibility of creating and animating very complex compos, by compartmentalizing and bringing structure to your animation.
That is what this chapter will explain. Coming soon.