Using the Animation Timeline Editor

This editor is used to create and export animation from a section view. Only one timeline editor can be active at a particular point in time. This editor is associated with a specific view; at present only 3D views are supported.

Animations are created from a set of keyframes, each of which uniquely define the state of their corresponding view. A "keyframe" defines the full state of the view including position and orientation (the “camera”), navigation and other view display settings. The Timeline Editor can then automatically animate between keyframes based on how these change.

Start using the Animation feature by selecting the View tab and clicking the add (+) button > Animation.

This editor consists of a titlebar, toolbar, the main timeline view, and a status panel.

When the Timeline Editor is open, the corresponding view is visible for animation, with the Timeline Editor on top.

Closing the corresponding view will automatically close the timeline editor, while closing the timeline editor will simply exit animation mode and return the corresponding view to its normal mode of operation.

Titlebar

Shows the animation product name, animation dimensions and frames per second.

Toolbar

Includes buttons for the following functions:

  • Go to start: Move the frame marker to the first frame.
  • Go to previous keyframe: Move the frame marker back one keyframe.
  • Preview / Stop: Play the animation from the frame marker, in real time.
  • Go to next keyframe: Move the frame marker forward one keyframe.
  • Go to end: Move the frame marker to the last frame.
  • Create a keyframe: Create a keyframe at the frame marker location (only appears if a keyframe is not currently selected).
  • Update keyframe: Update the current keyframe with all changes made to the view (only appears if a keyframe is currently selected.)
  • Frame: Currently selected frame. You can change the selected frame by dragging the frame marker, typing the target frame number, using the buttons or by scrolling over them with the mouse wheel.
  • Total Frames: Total number of frames in the animation, which along with other settings will define its run time.
  • Update keyframe: Opens a dialog which allows selection of resolution / aspect ratio and the animation’s playback speed in frames per second.
  • Export Animation: Export the animation to a video file. See section Video Export for details.

Timeline Panel

The Timeline Panel displays events occurring throughout the animation and consists of a Timeline Axis and Track View. Icons on the Track View indicate whether a keyframe is present, and if so, which type of changes it makes to the view.

When you create a new animation, a keyframe (representing the current state of the view) is automatically created and inserted at frame 1.

To create an animation:

  1. Move the frame marker to some later frame e.g. frame 40.
  2. Change the view (i.e. zoom, pan or navigate to different location).
  3. Insert a new keyframe there using the create a keyframe button.

With two or more keyframes, the play button will allow preview of the animation, and the export button can be used to write a movie to disk.

Timeline Axis

This axis bar shows frame numbers and the currently selected frame.

The selected frame can be changed by either clicking the axis at the required position or dragging the frame marker handle. Similar to other section views, the axis may also be zoomed in or out using the mouse wheel.

Track View

This panel area shows all the defined keyframes and lets you manipulate them:

The track rows in this panel indicate which type of data is changing.

  • Camera: The Camera track indicates which keyframes change view orientation (pan, zoom, rotation etc).
  • Location: The location track indicates which keyframes change navigation values (IL, CL, TWT, etc).
  • Settings: The settings track indicates which keyframes change other settings (background colour, colourbars, etc).
Keyframe icons in a track indicate whether the corresponding track’s values change in that keyframe, with a filled keyframe marker () indicating changes, and an empty keyframe marker () indicating no change to that track.

Tip: You can also animate the frames while over the timeline panel by holding down the Ctrl key and scrolling the mouse-wheel.

Contextual Menus

When moving the mouse over the Timeline Panel, the keyframe (if any) under the mouse is highlighted automatically (using ). Right clicking the mouse over the hovered frame will then show a contextual menu:
  • Show Info: Display keyframe information (camera, navigation and other changes).
  • Update Keyframe: Updates the underlying keyframe state from the current view.
  • Cut Keyframe: Removes the selected keyframe, copying it to the clipboard.
  • Copy Keyframe to clipboard: Copies the selected keyframe to the clipboard.
  • Paste Keyframe from clipboard: Creates a new keyframe from the clipboard. Only visible when a keyframe has first been copied to the clipboard.
  • Remove Keyframe: Deletes the selected keyframe.

You can also create a new keyframe from the context menu if no keyframe was selected.

Modifying Keyframes

Because the attached view can be manipulated (for example, to inspect data independently of the animation process), keyframes are protected and will not automatically update with every view change.

Keyframes must instead be updated explicitly, and a number of indicators on the timeline view are used to signify that the view has changed and the current keyframe should be updated (or a keyframe created) if you do not want your changes lost.

These include a highlighted keyframe icon, a red frame marker, and an alert on the status bar. When in this state, use the update (or create) keyframe actions to include the view's new settings in the animation before changing timeline locations to avoid losing your changes.

For experimental changes you wish to discard, you can revert the view to its saved keyframe by simply clicking on the frame marker handle, or by contextual menu. View unsaved changes can be copied clipboard via contextual menu for later pasting at new location:

  • Copy view changes to clipboard: Copies the current view changed state to the clipboard.
  • Undo view changes: Resets the view changes by updating it from the current highlighted frame.

Status Bar

Shows the currently selected frame and its corresponding time, progress when playing or exporting animation, and error and warning messages.

Video Export

  1. Animation can be exported to a video file by clicking the icon in the toolbar.
  2. Use the displayed Save-As dialog window to choose a video location.
  3. Once a valid file path is selected, the export will start and progress is displayed in the status-bar.
  4. An export can be cancelled by clicking the icon displayed in place of the export button during export.