FCPX Keyframeing Tools

Keyframing is setting, or “keying” specific parameters of a media element to one frame, and setting (keying) them those same parameters to a different value in another frame. This animates elements on the screen. In Final Cut Pro X we have three places that allow us to work quickly with keyframes; in the Inspector, in the Viewer and in the Timeline. In this blog post I’ll run through each briefly so you’ll be aware of the tools available to you inside Final Cut Pro X.

Handy Keyboard Shortcuts
To start with, let’s get the keyboard shortcut out of the way. To navigate between keyframes, use the Option key with the semicolon key to go to a previous keyframe, and Option with the apostrophe to go to the next keyframe. They’re also found in the Mark menu, in the Previous and Next sub-menus.

Since many of us use Markers to map out where we want keyframes to happen before setting them, use the Control key with the same ; and ‘ keys as above to navigate between them. They’re also found in the same sub-menus mentioned in the previous paragraph.

Keyframing In The Inspector
To the right of every keyframable parameter in the Inspector, visible only when you mouse over a parameter, are the Keyframe Diamonds. Clicking these turns them yellow (enabled) for that video frame, and locks those values in for that specific parameter to that specific frame. This is called “keyed values,” thus the term “keyframe.” You’ll also see arrows left and/or right pointing, to the left of an active diamond. These help you jump to any existing previous or next keyframes. If there’s no arrows, then no other keyframes exist in that direction.


Not all parameters are keyframable. If there are parameters missing that you want to keyframe, or parameters that have no keyframe, you can create a custom Motion effect to add them. And that is a tutorial for the next blog post, so stay tuned for that one.

Keyframing In The Viewer
To work with keyframes with the On-Screen-Controls (OSC) in the Viewer, you turn them on with the OSC button at the lower left of the Viewer, and set it to Transform.


Then you can set keyframes and navigate between them with the controls at the top left of the Viewer.


You’ll see a red line showing the path between the Transform keyframes. When the playhead is parked on a frame that is keyed, you can grab that keyframe point and move it around the screen to reposition it. You can also right-click it for more controls. Smooth uses Ease In/Out and Linear gives an abrupt change. There are also “handles” when using the Smooth mode to control the amount of easing (shorter vs longer handles) and help curve the path (moving the angle of the handles). Both sides of the handle move together by default, but if you hold the Option key when moving a handle, only one side moves.


Keyframing In The Timeline
In the timeline is you right-click a clip, and from the pop-up menu select “Show Animation”


This brings up a screen that lets us pull keyframes left and right to adjust their timing. Some, like Transform, represent a set of parameters. They have a menu indicator next to their label. In that menu you can chose which specific parameters to adjust (shown in white), in effect locking keyframes of other parameters (shown in black). Right-click a keyframe diamond to access more options.


With all of this available to you, I hope you will find it easier to do keyframe work inside of Final Cut Pro X.