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Animating Digital Video Clips

Now wait a minute; don't you call these things "movies" because the pictures are already moving? Why would you need to animate a video clip? You may not need to animate the actual subjects in the video, but you can move the video image across the screen. For example, a small picture-in-picture image can sail across the screen to give a hint of action that will happen later in the movie. You can move a clip across the screen along a fixed path or a zigzag pattern, you can rotate clips, and you can distort them.

To prepare a clip for animation, follow these steps:

1. Click the clip in the timeline that you want to animate to select it, and make sure that the play head appears somewhere over the clip.

You want just about any clip that you animate in track Video 2 or higher.

2. Choose Window --> Properties to open the Properties window for the selected clip.

3. Click the arrow next to the Motion heading to expand the Motion controls.

4. Click the clip's video image in the Monitor.

When you click the clip in the monitor, cross-hairs appear in the middle of the clip and square handles appear on the sides and corners of the video image.

5. Click and drag the square handles to change the size of the image.

6. Click and drag on the middle of the image to move the image to a new location on the screen.

The preceding steps help you only resize a clip, not animate it. If you play the timeline to preview your change, you see that your clip has been resized, but it doesn't go anywhere. To actually animate the clip and make it go somewhere, you just use keyframes. To animate your resized clip, follow these steps:

1. Click the Toggle Animation button next to Motion.

2. Click the Add/Remove Keyframe button next to the Position control.

A keyframe appears at the current video frame for the current size and position of your clip.

3. Move the play head in the timeline to a different location in the clip.

4. Click and drag the resized clip in the monitor to a new location.

This step automatically creates a new keyframe. If you want, you can even drag the clip completely off-screen. This causes the clip to appear to exit, stage left (or right, or up, or . . . ).

Now play the timeline. The resized clip moves across the screen as it plays between the two keyframes that you created. Unhappy with the results? Play around with it! Animation is one of those effects that you really need to fiddle around with to get just the right look.

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