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March 1, 2021

Using the Speed Graph to Create Smooth Animations

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With a cluttered UI and dozens of buttons, After Effects can seem intimidating if you're learning the software. After years of using After Effects, I've found simple techniques that every beginner should know. Speed Graph editing is my favorite technique and is used on almost every project.

Editing Keyframe Velocity with the Speed Graph

Linear keyframes often create static or rigid animations. By adjusting the keyframe velocity in the Speed Graph, we can achieve much smoother animations. 

Linear

Modified


Accessing the Speed Graph

Accessing the Speed Graph

By default, all of your keyframes will be set to linear interpolation. To start modifying the velocity, you'll need to select the keyframes and convert them into Easy Ease. This can be done by highlighting the keyframes and hitting CTRL/CMD + F9.

To edit those keyframes in the Speed Graph, you will need to highlight all of your keyframes and select the Graph Editor shown in the example. By default, it will be set to the Value Graph. You can change it to the Speed Graph by right-clicking within the plane and selecting Speed Graph.


Editing the Keyframe's Velocity Using the Speed Graph

Editing the Speed Graph
Overview:

The Speed Graph represents the movement of your object by plotting the keyframes on a two-dimensional plane. As you can see, when we first opened the Speed Graph we had a very rounded velocity, this is okay, but with a few tweaks, we can make it much better.


Objective:

For this animation, I wanted it to seem as the AmpliPhi Tri-Phi pops up, loses momentum, and goes back down. This required three keyframes: the start, the apex, and the endpoint.


Execution:

To sell the effect of this animation, I selected the middle keyframe (the apex) and dragged the left handle over to the far left, creating a nice ease-in. I then selected the right handle and dragged it to the far right, creating a nice ease-out.

As you can see, with a few simple clicks, we were able to transform this animation into something much more advanced.

Conclusion

The Speed Graph is an easy-to-use and versatile tool that can change your animations dramatically. With no right or wrong way to use this tool, the possibilities are endless! 

Watch the video below and see if you can spot Speed Graph editing. 

Meet the Author

mike schmitz

Mike Schmitz is the Videographer and Motion Graphics Artist at AmpliPhi Social Media Strategies. Whether it's a small production or a custom animated video, Mike can work with you in creating the perfect piece of content to drive marketing campaigns or develop your online presence.

Mike graduated from Madison Media Institute’s Video Production program and is an FAA Part-107 UAS certified drone pilot. Before joining AmpliPhi he was a part of UW Madison's Video Production Team, a Wedding Videographer, and a freelance drone pilot.

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