Reference Cinema 4D Cinema 4D Prime Animate Menu Timeline
Function available in CINEMA 4D Prime, Visualize, Broadcast, Studio & BodyPaint 3D

Keys Area

All existing keys that have not been hidden by filters will be displayed in chronological order in the Keys Area. In addition, F-Curves can be displayed by clicking on the small arrow next to each curve.

A key’s value can be changed manually, without having to go to the Attributes Manager, by double-clicking on a real key (i.e. not a master key). A new key can be created via Ctrl/Cmd + click on a given track (doing the same on a master track will create a key on all child tracks as well). Information about the key interpolation used can be found under Interpolation.

Selection And The Concept Behind Master Keys

Items in the Timeline are ordered chronologically. Maybe you are wondering why keys are also assigned to parent objects. These parent (master) keys, depicted as outlines, have themselves no key value and serve only as handles and selection assistants. A master key will be created in the parent hierarchy (i.e. for objects, tags, materials, etc.) for each key you create for a given track.

When a master key is selected, all keys of child hierarchies located at the exact same time in the animation will also be selected. When normal keys are selected, corresponding master keys higher up in the hierarchy will also be selected, however without the respective master key’s corresponding real keys being automatically selected (only those actually belonging to the interactive selection).

Selecting master keys will automatically select all child keys. Selecting individual keys automatically selects the corresponding master keys. The marked master keys are colored differently when not all of their real keys are selected.

Master keys are colored differently, depending on the selection of real keys made:

Selecting a master key will always result in all child keys being selected that are located at the same time in the animation.

Keys can be selected interactively as follows:

All keys at a given time in the animation can be selected via Shift + ALT + click on the master key of an object, tag, material, etc. Alternatively you can click on the Track’s Masterkey.

Selected keys’ properties are displayed in the Attributes Manager.

So I’ve selected some keys. What now?

You can move all selected keys by:

You can scale (slow motion, cycle) the selected keys temporally by moving one of the Selection Range’s handles in the Timeline Ruler.

Simultaneously pressing the Ctrl-key while executing one of the selection methods just described will copy the selected keys. Press Shift + Ctrl/Cmd to copy keys from one track to another.

A symbol next to the cursor will alert you to whether or not the selected keys can be copied to a desired location.

F-Curve Mode

General: What are F-Curves?

The F in F-Curves stands for function (Function Curves). F-Curves represent the interpolation between keys. F-Curves are not linked to any form of unit and can therefore be used in conjunction with any property that can be interpolated smoothly between keys.

Several properties, such as animated options (e.g., the transition from hard to soft shadows), cannot be interpolated, i.e., the transition will be abrupt.

What role do all the different types of interpolation play in a simple animation?

Take a look at the F-Curves shown below.

Linear interpolation (top) and Spline interpolation (bottom)

The keys on both F-Curves are located at the same time in the animation and have the same position, i.e., the initial and final values are the same. If these were Position keys, the start and end positions would be the same.

Keys representing the brightness of a given light source or any other object property could also have been used in the example above.

How each F-Curve affects the animation can best be seen by playing the animation.

Example 1: A position animation in which an object moves at a constant velocity between point A and point B. The fact that the object’s velocity remains constant makes its movement look unrealistic. A realistic movement always involves an acceleration phase and a deceleration phase.

In contrast, example 2: A curve ascends rapidly, quickly reaches its crest and continues in a straight line until it arrives at the second key. The movement is as follows, based on the properties at hand: The value increases rapidly and slows as it reaches the last frame, at which point no more changes will occur to the value.

The object will move rapidly at the beginning of the animation, quickly slow until it stops. This is what a realistic movement would look like.

F-Curves define the temporal interpolation between keys. The Timeline offers numerous functions that let you easily create acceleration and slowing movements for your objects.

How to Use F-Curves

If no settings have been changed in the F-Curve menu, only the F-Curves of selected tracks will be displayed in the Objects Area.

F-Curves of locked tracks will not be displayed.

If and which key tangents should be displayed can also be defined in the F-Curve menu. For the most part, key tangents are displayed for selected keys and can be moved or edited interactively to change the tangents (several selected keys can be edited at once). The following keyboard shortcuts can be used (also in conjunction with Mini F-Curves in Dope Sheet mode):

Keys can be selected by clicking on them or dragging a selection box around the keys you want to select. You can switch between selection states by simultaneously pressing the Ctrl-key.

Shift key without affecting their values or time.>

Selected keys can be moved using the Shift key without affecting their values or time (vertically or horizontally) when the vertical or horizontal guidelines are displayed (you can still subsequently switch between them outside of the tolerance radius while pressing the RMB). This also works in the Dope Sheet’s F-Curve mode.

A line will be displayed along which individual keys can be moved.

An entire F-Curve can be selected by clicking on it (selects an individual F-Curve) or by dragging a selection box (multiple selection). Simultaneously pressing Shift + Ctrl/Cmd when selecting will switch between selection states.

Selected F-Curves can be moved together by using the Move Curve option in the F-Curve menu. Most options in the Functions menu can also be applied to selected F-Curves (as long as you are not in Dope Sheet mode).

A key can be added to an F-Curve via Ctrl/Cmd + click. Double-clicking on an existing key lets you change its value right then and there. Information about the key interpolation used can be found under Interpolation