Essential terminology for animation

The following is a list of common terms you'll encounter when working with animation.



Animation is the process of creating a collection of sequential images and playing them back quickly to create an illusion of movement. Each image, just like a picture you take with a camera, marks a significant instance in time, and is known as a keyframe. Animations are authored by defining a small set of keyframes that the system uses to create interpolated intermediate frames. Animations can interpolate the camera position, map time, map range, map elevation surface properties, and layer visibility, exaggeration (3D), and transparency settings.


Append an additional keyframe to your animation. A new keyframe is added to either the end or the start of the animation, and the total duration of the animation increases.


The camera defines your virtual point of view on the map or scene. Much like a camera in the real world, the camera in ArcGIS Pro can be moved through the 2D or 3D virtual world. Important viewpoints are stored as keyframes, and the camera's path is interpolated between them.


An image representing a moment in time that can be connected to other frames to generate a video.


A visual waypoint along the animation path in a map or scene. When an animation is played, values such as the location of the camera, the current map time, the current map range, and layer transparencies are interpolated between the stored states using a configurable transition type.

Maintain speed

The camera travel speed is maintained when appending keyframes to your animation. Each new keyframe is automatically timed to maintain the flight speed for the camera from the previous transition.

Transition time

The time span between keyframes. The default transition time is three seconds, but this can be configured to a different length or automatically calculated using the travel speed of the camera.

Transition type

The type of transition determines how frames are interpolated between keyframes. Animations have the following transition types: Fixed, Adjustable, Linear, Hop, Stepped, and Hold. The available transition types vary according to the keyframe property on which they're used. For example, Hop is only available for camera (specifically in Z).

Fixed Fixed

Create a path with smooth, tightly controlled turns between keyframes. This is the default type for camera navigation.

Adjustable Adjustable

Create a configurable curved path between two keyframes. This method uses a Bezier curve with adjustable control points.

Linear Linear

Create a straight path between keyframes. This is the default type for layer transparency, time, and range properties.

Hop Hop

Create a path with configurable bounces between keyframes.

Stepped Step

Create a path that cuts between keyframes. This is the default type for time or range properties that are imported.

Hold Hold Keyframe

Create a keyframe that sets the transition to hold a property for a certain amount of time, similar to a wait or pause. It does not interfere with the existing path.

Update keyframe

Adjust the current animation by either updating an existing keyframe or inserting a new keyframe into the transition curve between two keyframes.

Animation Timeline pane

The Animation Timeline pane contains the animation timeline control, the keyframe gallery, and the overlay timeline if overlays exist for your animation. By default, it's automatically opened and docked at the base of the application when a new animation is added to a map or scene. The timeline pane is empty until you click the Create first keyframe button to begin.

Animation timeline control

The animation timeline control displays the full length of your animation, including the timing between individual keyframes. You can interactively scrub through the animation using the current time indicator, or make edits such as changing keyframe timing or deleting keyframes. When keyframes are very close together, the animation timeline control automatically groups them into a cluster. Clusters can be expanded to accommodate edits. For simplicity, the control is referred to as the animation timeline or timeline in the help.

Keyframe gallery

The keyframe gallery shows an ordered list of preview images for each keyframe in the animation. When a keyframe is selected in the gallery, the outline looks like a puzzle piece indicating how each keyframe and transition connect to form the animation. A keyframe and its transition type (located in front of each keyframe) are stored together. The gallery is used to visualize and edit the animation and work with selected keyframes.

Current time indicator

The animation's current time is indicated by a vertical bar on the timeline control and keyframe gallery. You can interactively scrub through an animation to visualize it at any moment. Although they play at the same time, the current time indicators on the timeline and gallery do not play at the same rate. The current time indicator on the timeline always moves at a constant rate. The current time indicator on the keyframe gallery moves at a rate relative to individual keyframes and its set transition.


A single representative icon on the timeline when keyframes are very close or overlapping and become automatically grouped. The context menu for a cluster icon on the timeline allows you to expand and interact with the keyframes inside the cluster.

Animation Properties pane

The Animation Properties pane contains the Keyframe tab and the Overlay tab with settings for each. Begin by selecting one or more keyframes in your animation, and update their properties as needed. You can access a detailed list of the editable properties for a keyframe, including the camera position, layer visibility, and the map's time and range settings. Keyframe properties, such as the map time component, can also be explicitly excluded from being animated. The Overlay tab lists all overlays for the entire animation and is where you fine-tune naming, draw order, time and duration, position, and general text customization.


Overlays are on-screen text, image, and shape elements that add detail and information to the animation. Text overlays include titles and paragraphs. Images include watermarks and full-screen or centered images. Dynamic text overlays include text that changes based on whether it's pulling properties from the map's camera, time, or range settings. Shapes include point, ellipse, rectangle, and arrow.

Control point

Specific to the adjustable transition type, these points allow the shape of the Bezier curve to be customized without the need for additional keyframes. They can be displayed and edited using the tools in the Display group on the Animation tab.

Look at point

An optional property of an animation keyframe that defines a location in the scene for the camera to point at. When defined, it overrides the interpolation of the camera's heading and pitch between keyframes, and is often used across consecutive keyframes to maintain focus on an important feature as the camera moves. It is only available for animation in 3D views.