Glossary - Keyframe Animation

Keyframes are an essential aspect of animation. Animations are a collection of multiple pictures flashed rapidly to create an illusion of movement for the viewer. This is exactly how a camera records a video and also how your brain sees the world. A computerized animation too shows the viewer how an object will change seamlessly. Keyframe animation is a simple method of animating an object. In it, the focus points are the object’s form at the beginning and the end. The image of an object is a ‘frame’. 

2D, 3D Keyframe Animation Process

In 2D animation, a keyframe is a single picture. However, in 3D animation, many features like position, orientation, and lighting define it. Keyframes are vital because they specify in a timeline where a transition will begin or end. The sequence of keyframes produces an illusion of motion for the viewer. For instance, if the keyframe animation has a speed of 20fps, the screen will display twenty images to the viewer in a single second. As a natural result, there is a space between all such keyframes. Thus, in computer animation, the numeric values automatically adjust to connect to the next frame. This is what makes the transition smooth. ‘Tweening’ and ‘in-betweening’ are the processes of interpolation.

An Indispensable Tool

In software packages that support animation, keyframing is a means of changing the object’s parameters. To change these, the user sets different values for the beginning and the end of the animation. The position of a keyframe defines the timing of movement of the object while its sequence defines the visible transition. The software automatically interpolates the two to show gradual, smooth transitions. Keyframe animation is thus a significant feature of any 3D graphics animation software. 'Intra-frames’ is the name for keyframes in the video compression industry. Keyframing is an indispensable tool while working with hand-drawn animations as it helps to detect minor defects easily.