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The Basics of Motion Graphics – Part 1

by Thomas Coughlan

17 April 2020 9:07am

When you first start out on Adobe After Effects, it can be daunting and difficult to work. New users feel like they’re only using 10% of the full power of the software. Understanding keyframes is one of the basics to be able to work the software. In the first part of our three-part ‘Basics of Motion Graphics’ series, you will learn how to control keyframes and make them speed up.

What is Adobe After Effects?

In basic terms, After Effects is Photoshop but for moving footage. According to Adobe, it is ‘the industry-standard tool for video compositing, motion graphics design and animation’. It is often used in the post-production process of film-making, video games and television production. It can also be used for keying and tracking.

When I first started using Adobe After Effects, I wish there were certain things I knew that I know now. One of them being able to control the movement and speed of the keyframes. Learning about the different features has allowed me to save time in making videos and not having to go back to alter or fix mistakes.

Controlling keyframes and their speed

Keyframes allow you to have objects move in videos by setting start and endpoints and set where you want them to move. You can move an object on After Effects by clicking and dragging or by using the drop-down transform and change the numbers next to position. When you have chosen the starting position for your object, click the timer next to position to set your first keyframe. When you have chosen how long you want the animation to last, drag the timer to the set time, move the object to the position you want it to move to. This will then add a second keyframe.

Clicking on the keyframes and then changing to the graph editor allows you to see how quickly the object moves and it’s peak points. To change the speed, drag the yellow points in or out. The steeper the incline, the faster the object will move. You can also change the speed of the animation by moving the second keyframe to a shorter time.

Don’t miss Part 2

You should now have a basic understanding of how to move keyframes and change the speed of them. Make sure to check out Part 2 of our ‘Basics of Motion Graphics’ series where I look at using multiple compositions – precomps.


Motion Graphics
Adobe After Effects