Keyframing effects in Avid Media Composer can be very challenging if you have never worked with them before. It’s difficult to even know where to begin. Keyframing takes your effects game next level by allowing you to change the value of a parameter of an effect over time. This article will demystify how to work with effects inside of Media Composer and give you all the essential knowledge you need to get started with keyframing.

 

Throughout this article we’re going to be using the 3D Warp effect. To find 3D Warp open up the Effect Palette by hitting Cmd+8 (Mac) or Ctrl+8 (PC) or by going to the Tools menu and selecting Effect Palette. Under Blend you’ll find the 3D Warp effect. Click 3D Warp in the Effect Palette and drag and drop it onto a video clip.

 

To access 3D Warp’s various parameters and to get started with keyframing open the Effect Editor. This is located under the Tools menu and by selecting Effect Editor. Alternatively, you can hit the Effect Mode button located by default in the top-left corner of the Timeline window.

 

Once the Effect Editor is open select the video clip with that has the 3D Warp applied to it. The Effect Editor should now look like this:

Avid Media Composer - Effects Editor

Inside the Effect Editor are all the different parameters that can be adjusted and keyframed. To get started let’s adjust the scale of our clip. Twirl open the Scaling parameter by clicking the black triangle next to the word Scaling. Click on the circle in the X parameter’s sliding bar. Type the number 50 and hit enter. You can also click and drag the slider down to 50 or once you click the circle you can use the left and right arrow keys to adjust the number. Putting the Scaling parameter down to 50 means that we’re making our clip 50% of its size.

Effect Editor - Scaling Parameter

Okay, so how do we change this value over time? How do we show the clip scaling up? That’s where keyframing comes in.

To begin make sure the Keyframe Graph is open (this is the brown area in the Effect Editor in the previous images where you can see the Time Position Indicator, the blue bar). If your Keyframe Graph is not open hit the Show/Hide Keyframe Graphs button in the bottom-right corner of the Effect Editor.

Keyframe Graphc - Avid Media Composer

There are a number of ways to create a keyframe.

 

Let’s create a keyframe on the first frame of the clip. Move the Time Position Indicator to the beginning of the Keyframe Graph by clicking and dragging it to the left until it stops or by hitting the Home key. Then select the Add Keyframe button. This is the purple triangle at the bottom of the Effect Editor. There are a couple options. You can select to create keyframes on Open Groups, Enabled Groups or All Parameters.

 

If you select Add To Open Groups, this will create keyframes at the Time Position Indicator on any parameter you have twirled open. If you select Add To Enabled Groups, this will create keyframes on any parameters that are active. Parameters become active automatically when you begin to make changes to them. Or you can activate them by clicking the gray square next to their name. Lastly if you select Add To All Parameters this will create a keyframe on every single parameter. This last option tends to become messy if you have keyframes at many different times on a single clip.

Avid Media Composer - Keyframing

Another option for creating keyframes is by right-clicking the parameter’s bar in the Keyframe Graph and selecting Add Keyframe from the menu.

Avid Media Composer - Adding Keyframes

Next, move the Time Position Indicator to the end of the Keyframe Graph by clicking and dragging it to the right until it stops or by hitting the End key. Then create a new keyframe using one of the methods just discussed. Now go to your Scaling parameter and change X back to 100.

 

You must create the second keyframe first before making changes to the parameter. If you want to go back and make changes to the first keyframe you must actually click the keyframe to select it. Then you can make the change. Dragging the Time Position Indicator to the keyframe does not activate it automatically like it would in other programs like Premiere Pro or After Effects.

If we watch our clip now we’ll see it scale up from 50% to 100% over the duration of the clip.

 

Media Composer allows us to change the interpolation of our keyframes. Select the first keyframe then holding down the Shift key select the second keyframe. Next, right-click on either keyframe. The different keyframe interpolations are Shelf, Linear, Spline and Bezier. By default keyframes in Media Composer are linear. That means the speed at which the parameter changes over time is constant. If you changed this to Spline or Bezier you would get a smoother easing in and easing out of the movement. If Shelf is selected, the parameter “jumps” in values between keyframes. In our example the scaling parameter would jump from 50 directly to 100 when we get to the second keyframe — you would not see the clip scale. You’d see it “pop” instead.

 

There are a couple of ways to change the location of a keyframe. The quickest way is to select the keyframe then hold down Opt (Mac) or Alt (PC) and click and drag the keyframe to where you want it to go. If you want to move the keyframes outside of the first and last fram

es of the clip you can do that using the Opt/Alt+drag method too. This method is the fastest way to move keyframes but not necessarily the most precise.

 

The more accurate method is to select a keyframe then move the Time Position Indicator to where you want the keyframe to go. Right-click the parameter’s bar in the Keyframe Graph then choose Align Keyframes.

Aivd Media Composer - Aligning Keyframes

Let’s say we want to change our scaling from 100 to 50 instead of 50 to 100. We could select each keyframe and type in the new value or we could move the keyframes using the methods above. However there’s an even quicker way. Make sure both keyframes are selected then right-click with one of them and choose Reverse Keyframes. This works if you have more than two keyframes as well.

Avid Media Composer - Reversing Keyframes

By default keyframes are Elastic. In our Scaling example we have keyframes on the first and last frames of the clip. Imagine that our clip is 3 seconds long and we’re working in 30 frames per second. That means our clip is 90 frames long. We have keyframes on frame 1 and frame 90 of our clip. Suppose we used Trim Mode and the rollers to extend the clip so it’s now 5 seconds long. Elastic keyframes mean that they adjust with length of the clip

. Imagine the keyframes are like a rubber band stretching as the clip extends or shortens. We now have a keyframe on frame 1 and frame 150 (the first and last frames of the clip).

 

This may seems counterintuitive if you’re used to keyframing in other programs. If you want your keyframes to “stick” to frames 1 and 90 you need to change them to Fixed. Select the keyframes and right-click on either of them. Then select Fixed. Now when you roll out the clip to 5 seconds long the keyframes won’t move. Even though the clip is 150 frames now the keyframes are still on frame 1 and frame 90.

 

Keyframing in Media Composer can seem daunting at first. A huge benefit about working with effects in Media Composer is that you can always remove the effect and start over or just smash Cmd/Ctrl+Z a bunch of times to get back to where you started. With a little patience and experimentation, you’ll be keyframing your effects in no time.