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“option” + drag to duplicate keyframes and layers

LEGEND ,
Sep 28, 2022 Sep 28, 2022

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In a lot of Adobe programs, you can hold "option" (on mac) and drag a shape or layer to duplicate it. Except for AE, this is however a very fast and interactive way to duplicate something that could even be applied to effects, keyframes, etc.

Here is a demo video of how this would work: https://vimeo.com/137401276
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34 Comments
LEGEND ,
Sep 28, 2022 Sep 28, 2022

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But then how would we option+drag to stretch/space out keyframe groups in the timeline?

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LEGEND ,
Sep 28, 2022 Sep 28, 2022

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How many times have I wanted to do this!!!

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Explorer ,
Sep 28, 2022 Sep 28, 2022

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I LOVE this. Even though I have already set a keyboard shortcut for reversing keyframes, I think having that functionality that Sander is describing here built into AE would be a huge improvement.

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LEGEND ,
Sep 28, 2022 Sep 28, 2022

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This is a fantastic idea and I would love to see this feature it would make my workflow so much faster!

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Adobe Employee ,
Sep 28, 2022 Sep 28, 2022

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We were recently evaluating part of this request, to duplicate keyframes by holding the Alt/Option key and dragging. This is something we'd love to add to After Effects. But we've run into a couple of issues.

As mentioned in the video, Alt/Option + dragging keyframes is currently occupied by the time-stretch keyframes behavior. The video suggests changing that behavior to use the Control/Command key + dragging, however that begins to get fuzzy because Control/Command + _clicking_ on a keyframe changes its interpolation to Continuous Bezier; there's a lot of opportunity here for accidental clicks.

A related problem is muscle memory. Any time we change a mouse or keyboard input behavior, we get negative reactions from our user community. The video tends to dismiss the need for time-stretching keyframes, but I both disagree with that, and want to emphasize that changing muscle memory is very disruptive.

Another complication is that Alt/Option + dragging on a layer's in/out points will time-stretch the layer. (This was added in recently, in After Effects 16.0, but we used time-stretching keyframes as the model for which keyboard shortcut to use.) If we change the meaning of Alt/Option + dragging keyframes, we may need to align other behavior as well, breaking more muscle memory.

Regardless, we agree that the existing convention of Alt/Option + drag to copy is a desirable feature for After Effects (for both keyframes and other types of objects, but one thing at a time). We discussed what other keyboard modifiers the time-stretch keyframe behavior could be moved to, but we could not find an obvious answer because After Effects is already heavily loaded with modifier key + mouse click/drag behaviors. Even something as simple as adding the Shift key would interfere with snapping behaviors.

Given those complications, how would you suggest the behaviors of clicking and dragging keyframes in After Effects be adapted?

- What modifier key + click/drag combos would you like to see?
- How do you feel about disrupting muscle memory, for both yourself and other artists?
- Do you feel a preference or UI option would be needed to allow users to enable/disable the new behaviors and return to prior muscle memory?

We will continue discussing this internally. Your opinions will help shape the conversation.

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LEGEND ,
Sep 28, 2022 Sep 28, 2022

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Personally I prefer it as/is

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Contributor ,
Sep 28, 2022 Sep 28, 2022

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In my view, preferences to allow users to disable new behaviours are usually a good idea (see the backlash to the new Home button, for example). Disrupting muscle memory isn't great, but it isn't the end of the world, especially if it's something less than fundamental and adds a really useful new feature.

I use Option-drag to scale keyframes quite often. Looking at current modifier combo's on keyframes, I think the one I'd miss the least is Cmd/Ctrl + Option clicking (which currently toggles Hold interpolation). Personally, I'd add a new key command for Toggle Hold Keyframe - HH. We're all using TT and UU all the time, why not use a few more double-tap keys? Then have the Cmd/Ctrl + Option drag do the duplicating. Or if people want the duplicate with Option-drag, use Cmd + Option drag for the scaling.

I also want to say that adding an option to drag keyframes to duplicate them 1. Needs to work with keyframes on multiple layers, and 2. Is not sufficient on it's own - we also need the ability to copy and paste keyframes from multiple layers with keyboard commands. Because dragging is not always easy to do with precision, for example if working in long duration comps on a smaller monitor. Pasting multiple layer keyframes to the CTI is, I would say, more important than being able to drag-duplicate them. And it should not require any more than the standard Cmd-C and Cmd-V. I was teaching 3rd year students recently and they find the existing behaviour (layers copying and pasting) bizarre - it goes against the expectations that the rest of AE's behaviours (which are more contextual, based on selection) actually engender.

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New Here ,
Sep 28, 2022 Sep 28, 2022

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Why not command-option? Is that used?

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LEGEND ,
Sep 28, 2022 Sep 28, 2022

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I am someone who uses the time stretch option with some frequency and I'd be perfectly fine if that moved to control/command instead of alt/opt. Sure, it'll be annoying for a bit, but I'll get used to it. And, heck, roving keyframes (ctrl+clicking) kinda feel like time stretching in a way, so it fits pretty well.
Copying keyframes while holding alt is something I can totally get behind - especially if it works on multiple layers simultaneously.

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Community Expert ,
Sep 28, 2022 Sep 28, 2022

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Would it be weird if Opt+Drag worked for duplicating a single keyframe, but when used for multiple keys you would hold Opt and drag from in between keys and a new, subtle UI element would pop up indicating that there will be a duplicate created? Something subtle like th plus icon that gets added to a folder when duplicating in Explorer and Finder.
Or maybe the selected keys would be highlighted in a new way, but only while Opt is held and the mouse is within the bounds of the selects keys, but not over one of them.

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LEGEND ,
Sep 28, 2022 Sep 28, 2022

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What about a bounding box for the keyframes? That replicates a typical and obvious use case, communicates a clear mode, and allows for even more scaling options (center based).

The bounding box could be constant or a separate mode triggered by a command (Cmd T for transform?). Yes if you’re a constant opt dragger, it’s an extra step but you get more flexibility.

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Engaged ,
Sep 28, 2022 Sep 28, 2022

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Side note. There needs to be a way to put those time stretched keys back on actual frames if you must keep doing that. It causes a lot of problems down the line.

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LEGEND ,
Sep 28, 2022 Sep 28, 2022

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I wouldn't mind this.

I'm used to copy-paste but I wouldn't bother changing this for a new feature which is also useful.

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Community Expert ,
Sep 28, 2022 Sep 28, 2022

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The behavior definitely sounds useful, and any time we can achieve consistency with other Adobe apps is always nice.

I use alt-dragging (to "accordion" keys) relatively frequently (and also use ctrl+alt+click to toggle Hold fairly frequently), but I feel like I might agree with Steve that Ctrl+Alt+Click might be negotiable. That said, this probably means I'm suggesting changing TWO existing behaviors (alt+drag becomes Duplicate, ctrl+alt+drag becomes "accordion"), which sounds insane.

As I was typing this, I wonder if I've perhaps stumbled onto something - maybe I'm crazy, but would it be possible to hold the D key (for, you know, *D*uplicate) to accomplish this? While the key is different, the behavior is in line with other Adobe apps. As AE is already such a complex program, users are used to getting similar behaviors, but with different hotkeys... (It's probably not possible to separate this from the existing functionality of D to "Scroll to current time," is it? Would this be an easier change to swallow?)

+1 for this needing to work for keys on multiple layers at once.

+1 for being able to add another modifier key to reverse the copied keys.

+1 for being able to force the keys to sit on exact frames.

+1 for a bounding box that allows you to both see what you're doing and intuitively manipulate the group of keys (similar to behavior within the Graph Editor).

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LEGEND ,
Sep 28, 2022 Sep 28, 2022

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Look at Cinema. Time stretch as an actual box. Then option is no longer needed for that so opt+drag can duplicate keyframes. This would also allow us to reverse a group of keys properly.

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LEGEND ,
Sep 28, 2022 Sep 28, 2022

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+1 for more double tap keys...

To Tim's point about modifiers being exhausted... The visual shortcut customizer was a welcome addition to my personal workflow, however I also found the same problem the Ae team is having. Most modifiers are already used. I found myself wanting access to add custom quick double-letter shortcuts.

In this case for drag and duplicate, a unique/new hold on second keypress might work. So' Alt' then hold a quick second 'Alt' in succession + drag would active the duplication.

More broadly though it seems to be the problem of keyboard UI. I've seen iPad and scripts used to add extra keys. Wacom keys. Color grading as a practice has its own keyboard. Or C4D's submenus, opening up various combinations of quick keypresses as shortcuts... Not sure what's best but I feel like as more great feature are added to Ae, we'll be wanting more shortcuts, which are in short supply.

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Adobe Employee ,
Sep 28, 2022 Sep 28, 2022

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Thanks all for the great feedback so far.

As this discussion has progressed both here and on Twitter, I'm wondering if this request needs to be split into two parts. While I appreciate the universal approach of "Alt/Option + drag = duplicate", it sounds like there's a wider variety of behaviors desired here. So we'd need two different stories:

1. Alt/Option + drag = duplicate for layers, Project window items, shapes, effects, and other objects where it makes sense.
2. A larger story around better behaviors for duplicating or copy/pasting keyframes that covers the issues people have raised here regarding multi-layer cases, selection boxes, and modified paste behaviors like time-reverse.

Your thoughts?

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LEGEND ,
Sep 28, 2022 Sep 28, 2022

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1. Yes.
2. Oh god yes.

🙂

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Engaged ,
Sep 28, 2022 Sep 28, 2022

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@tim
Yes, these are two separate requests.
All I know is, I love being able to alt+drag keyframes in Premiere to duplicate them, and I find it bizarre and annoying that it's so much more tedious in After Effects. I just want the exact same functionality in AE. (Side note, I also really wish I could stretch keyframes in Premiere, like I can in AE!)
If someone wants to time-reverse their keyframes, they can still just do that with a keyboard shortcut for all selected frames AFTER they've been duplicated... I see no reason to combine those two actions into one, especially when we only have 3 modifier keys to work with. (I maybe misunderstood what you are getting at with #2.)

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Community Beginner ,
Sep 28, 2022 Sep 28, 2022

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Needs to happen.

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LEGEND ,
Sep 28, 2022 Sep 28, 2022

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needed

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New Here ,
Sep 28, 2022 Sep 28, 2022

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This would be great if it also worked on markers too

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Community Beginner ,
Sep 28, 2022 Sep 28, 2022

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@Adam, option+drag on markers splits them so they have a range. You can just move the playhead and quickly hit * on your number pad or ctrl+8 on Mac to place a new one.
workbench.tv

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Community Beginner ,
Sep 28, 2022 Sep 28, 2022

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Another great idea that seems to have been ignored. This is app dev 101 at this point, not sure why small features like this aren't being implemented. Really wish there was a good After Effects competitor that solves these things.

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New Here ,
Sep 28, 2022 Sep 28, 2022

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It doesn’t work so don’t bother spending your money on this ****** space waster.

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