Skip To Content

Animation basics

Animations allow you to tell a story with your 2D and 3D GIS content and export it as a video to share with others. You author an animation by capturing map properties and layer properties in a series of keyframes. You configure how the software interpolates the transitions between each keyframe and can edit the playback experience to improve how fast or slow you need the duration to be, or include a natural pause to showcase an area of interest. You can also insert additional overlay information through text, images, and shapes. When you are ready to share the animation can then exported to an appropriate video format and set the resolution and frame rate. The final destination for an exported video includes website and platforms such as YouTube or Twitter.

Animation is available on the View tab in the Animation group. Click Add Add Animation to show the Animation contextual tab as well as open the Animation Timeline pane for building your animation.

Examples of animations include the following:

  • Previewing a parade route uses camera animation in 3D
  • Communicating rezoning impacts on critical habitats uses layer animation in 2D
  • Visualizing historical population changes uses time animation in 2D
  • Viewing individual floors for a building uses range animation in 3D
  • Lowering features down to the ground (proposed building) or lifting shapes out of the ground (columns representing potential job growth) uses vertical exaggeration and vertical offsets in 3D animations


A keyframe stores the properties of the map and its layers. It defines the starting and ending points of your animation. The sequence of keyframes is used to organize the movements and what is displayed during playback. You can rearrange keyframes, change the duration, and modify the transition experience between keyframes. The keyframe transition properties describe how values are interpolated between keyframes, including duration, and uses mathematical methods for different path experiences, such as a hop, or fixed linear movement.

When capturing a keyframe, the following properties are captured:


Map properties

Layer properties

You can interact with keyframes in the keyframe gallery on the Animation Timeline pane, or use the keyframe list in the Edit group on the Animation tab. The selected keyframe can be used for navigation, updating timing, or provide additional editing options.

Available animation settings

The Animation tab is a contextual tab, so it only appears when the active map or scene contains an animation. To start working with animation, click the Add button Add Animation in the Animation group on the View tab. This opens the Animation tab, which contains all of the tools for creating, editing, and exporting your animation. The controls and settings on the Animation tab are grouped according to their desired use and purpose and are described below.

Display group

In the Display group, you can show the visual feedback of the path and keyframes of your animation. The path and keyframe graphics help you find and fine-tune the line of action and keyframe timing. Sometimes a visualization helps to understand playback behavior you are not expecting, and improve your editing experience with dynamic feedback. The path and keyframes do not appear during export to video or live playback.

Create group

The Create group is where you begin to build your animation. The Append tool Append Keyframe is the primary tool for creating keyframes and defining the path between those keyframes. Append has four transition types listed in its drop-down menu—Fixed, Linear, Hop, and Stepped—that give you control over the interpolated camera path. Use Import Import Animation options to create animations in a more automatic process. You can import object such as bookmarks, time data, or range data and convert them to keyframes in a pre-configured format. You can also automatically create keyframes to generate a circular path around the center of the view or a selected feature. Additional controls in the Create group include the following:

  • Append Time - Adjust the default time spacing between keyframes.
  • Maintain Speed - Author keyframes that maintain the travel speed between them. By default, this is unchecked.
  • Append Front - Decide whether your keyframes are appended to the start of your animation rather than the end.

Edit group

The Edit group contains tools for modifying an animation. You can update keyframes, insert a new keyframe along the animation path, delete keyframes, and modify the timing between keyframes. The Keyframe List allows you to quickly select a keyframe from a drop-down list and adjust properties such as the flight path (curvature type for the line of action to the next keyframe) and keyframe timing. Use Zoom To Zoom To to update the map or scene to a selected keyframe's location. For highly detailed editing, use the Animation Properties pane Properties for keyframes and overlay elements.

Playback group

Playback controls allow you to review your animation. You can play it at real speed or manually step through individual keyframes, configure playback as a continuous loop using Repeat Repeat, or only play back the camera position if improving playback performance is necessary. The Duration time box allows you to increase or decrease the total time of the animation, whereas Current Time is exactly what you want to see in the view. When you type a value into Current Time, the view updates to show where you are along the animation timeline. There are also keyboard shortcuts associated with playback for convenience. The Animation Timeline pane Timeline is docked at the bottom of the application. It provides a visual display of the keyframes you are authoring and allows you to work quickly with keyframe selections. You can play back a selected keyframe or group of keyframes to verify changes, and rearrange, delete, or update keyframes. The Animation Timeline also allows you to only show keyframes containing particular properties to focus your interactive editing and playback experience.

Overlay group

Overlays are text, image or shape elements added to the animation to provide additional information. There are numerous overlays provided as presets for 2D text, images, dynamic overlays and shapes. Presets have specific formatting already defined to simplify the process of incorporating them to your animation but can still be fully customized. Text overlays include titles, paragraphs, and copyright information. Images include photographs and watermarks. Dynamic overlays go a step further and incorporate camera information, range slider, and time slider information and change automatically based on the current property of the map for the selected keyframe. Shape overlay elements include a point, ellipse, rectangle and arrow. You can edit overlays by first selecting the overlay and then using the Overlay tab on the Animation Properties pane. On-screen editing is also supported for changing text, adjusting position or updating an overlay elements appearance such as size and rotation.

Export group

Once you've created your animation, you can export the animation to a video. A set of preconfigured settings is available, and you can also define and save your own custom preset formats. By default, Lock View Size Lock View Size is enabled so your view size more closely represents what you will see based on the export resolution settings. The Preview Frame window Preview Frame allows you to see the current time in the animation as it would appear in the exported media format. Using the preview as a companion to your animation authoring workflow helps when preparing to export your animation. This way, you can confirm if your overlay elements will be included and not be clipped due to resolution settings.

Manage group

A map can contain multiple animations. All of a map's animations are listed in the Manage group as a way to set the active animation. The active animation is the one you are currently authoring, editing, duplicating, removing, or exporting. You can insert a new animation into your map or scene as either a new, empty animation or a duplicate of an existing animation. The list of animations can be alphabetically sorted in ascending or descending order or by the order they were added to the map.

Related topics