FCP 7 Tutorial - Using Keyframes

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Introduction To Keyframes

Keyframes are an essential part of any non-linear video editing software. Keyframes are used to apply changes to an audio or video clip that occur over time. You can use keyframes with lots of features in FCP 7, including video filters, audio filters, and speeding up or slowing down your clip.

This tutorial will teach you the basics of using keyframes, and guide you step-by-step through using keyframes to gradually zoom in and out of a video clip.

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Locating Keyframe Functions

There are two ways to add keyframes to any clip. The first is a button located in the Canvas window. Look along the bottom of the window for a diamond-shaped button - it's the third from the right. Line up your playhead in the Timeline to the place you want to put a keyframe, press this button, and voila! You've added a keyframe to your clip.

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Locating Keyframe Functions

Another handy feature to keep in mind when using keyframes is the Toggle Clip Keyframes button in the lower-left corner of the Timeline. It looks like two lines, one shorter than the other (shown above). This will let you see the keyframes in your Timeline, and also let you adjust them by clicking and dragging.

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Locating Keyframe Functions

You can also add and adjust keyframes in the Motion and Filters tabs of the Viewer window. You'll find the keyframe button next next to each control. You can add keyframes by pressing this button, and they'll appear to the right in the mini timeline of the Viewer window. In the image above, I added a keyframe where I want to begin the change in scale of my video clip. The keyframe shows up in green next to the Scale control.

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Zoom In and Out - Keyframe Using the Canvas Window

Now that you know how keyframes work and where to find them, I'll walk you through using keyframes to create a gradual zoom-in and zoom-out in your video clip. Here's how the process works using the Canvas window.

Double click on your video clip in the Timeline to bring it into the Canvas window. Now click the button with the left-arrow icon, shown above. This will take you to the first frame of your video clip. Now, press the keyframe button to add a keyframe. This will set the scale for the beginning of your clip.

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Zoom In and Out - Keyframe Using the Canvas Window

Now, play the clip in your timeline until you reach the place you want the video image to be the largest. Press the keyframe button in the Canvas window to add another keyframe. Now, go to the Motion tab of the Viewer window, and adjust the scale to your pleasing. I've increased the scale of my video to 300%.

Go back to the Timeline, and bring the playhead to the end of your video clip. Press the keyframe button again, and go to the Motion tab to adjust the scale for the end of your video clip - I've set mine back to its original size by choosing 100%.

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Zoom In and Out - Keyframe Using the Canvas Window

If you have the Toggle Clip Keyframes feature active, you should see your keyframes in the Timeline. You can click and drag the keyframes to move them backward and forward in time, which will make the zoom appear faster or slower.

A red line above your video clip means you'll need to render in order to play the video. Rendering allows FCP to apply the changes in scale to your video by calculating the way each frame should look to achieve the settings you've applied with keyframes. Once you've finished rendering, play your video clip from the beginning to check out the changes you've made.

Using keyframes is all about practice, and figuring out which process works best for you. Like most operations in FCP 7, there are many different methods you can use to achieve the same result. Whether you prefer working with keyframes solely in the Viewer window, or you like the intuitive feel of adjusting them in the Timeline, with a little trial and error you'll be using keyframes like a pro!