Animation Timeline Editing

A. Basic Concepts:

Two types of data for Timeline Editing – Key and Clip

  • Animation Key stores RTS (Rotation, Translation, Scale) data for all objects in iClone 3D space, including camera, lighting, characters, props, accessories. Users can use keys in the timeline to control the Props location, rotation and size change, for character, camera and lighting. Only location and rotation can be controlled.

  • Animation Clip stores the segments of animation data corresponding to animated objects, such as Live Props, Merged props, and Hand Gestures. Animation Clips can handle more complicated motion behavior, such as skin-bone animation, morph animation.  Those high-level animation data can be imported in VNS format from MAX PlugIn. 

B. Timeline Operation Basic

Set the total project frame number

  • By clicking on the “Clock” button at the right of frame counter, users open up a Time Setting panel where they can set the total project frame number and other settings. Read Time Setting Panel for more details.

   iClone time setting panel Animation Timeline Editing  

By Clicking the iClone timeline1 Animation Timeline Editing button, users can bring up the Timeline Editor as depicted in the following illustration:

  iClone timeline illus Animation Timeline Editing

The following sections will describe the basic operations in the Timeline panel.

General Operations in the Timeline Panel: 

  • Timeline button at the main control panel – quick access to current available timelines 

  • Use Timeline’s drop down Track List, check on/off track items to turn individual track on or off

  • Camera and Lighting – users need to turn on the timeline edit function inside the camera and lighting Modify panel to enable them to be visible on the timeline.

  • Quick Switch to target property editing panel – single click on the Track Name or the Track itself.

  • Zoom in/out – increase or decrease the time (cell) unit size.

  • Zoom to actual size – time unit represented as 60 frames per second.

  • Fit to Timeline Window – view whole timeline items within the timeline window space.

Auto Add Key Feature:

  • Double click on the timeline cell area to add key, or press “Add Key” button in the timeline area to add key.

  • The key also can be automatically added when users alter any Key information in the Modify Panel, such as XYZ Rotation, XYZ Translation (location), XYZ Scale  (props, character, accessories).

  • The key for camera and light can be automatically added, when users use mouse operation to change the direction or location of light or camera.

  • During playback mode, the add key function is disabled.

Key Selections

  • Select single key - single click on the target key, the selected key will turn to blue color.

  • Tab Key - press tab to jump to the next key, shift-tab to the previous key.

  • Select All keys - double click on the target track name (on the left of timeline)

  • Multiple key selection

    • Drag the cursor in the timeline to highlight keys covered under

    • Use Ctrl + LBM (Left Mouse Button) to select multiple keys

    • Use Shift + LBM to select adjacent keys

  • Delete key – click on the Delete key or “Delete” button on the tool bar to delete highlighted keys

  • Copy and Paste key - click on the copy and paste button on the timeline top tool bar, or use hotkey Ctrl-C on selected keys to copy, and Ctrl-V to copy to target frame location (single or multiple key)

  • Move key - when single or multiple keys are selected, use left mouse button to drag and move the keys

  • Go to Frame – click on the target frame number on timeline, or type in the frame number in tool bar to jump to the target frame. This allows you to go to your precise target location; especially convenient to animating with clear timing control

  • Turn On/Off Edit key  – For Camera and Lighting, users need to manually turn on the Edit Key option. Only after the “Edit Key” status is turned ON from their property page, the camera and light track will thus appear in the timeline track list


The Timeline Hotkeys are provided in the following table  

Jump to next key


Jump to previous

Shift Tab

Zoom in


Zoom out



Space Bar

Previous Frame

Left Arrow

Next Frame

Right Arrow

First Frame


Last Frame



Ctrl + X


Ctrl + C


Ctrl + V



Select Clips

(RMB )  Right mouse button click


Basic Operation for Animation Clips

  • Right click on the target clip, it brings additional motion options, you can click on the thumb image or action menu to switch animated clips

    • Hand Gesture – Gesture Library
    • 3D Live Props – still, idle and action sequences
  • Drag the end of animation clip to the right to duplicate the clip, drag to the left to reduce or remove clips

  • Duplicated motion (clips made by mouse drags) is treated as one unit when moved or deleted

iClone hand clips Animation Timeline Editing

  • For timeline without defining specific animation clips, 3D Live Props will use “Idle” animation by default. Left or Right Hand will use “Default” hand gesture.

  • Idle animation is a loop animation of a selected Live Props, if no IDLE animation is defined in the original project then the prop will be static by default.

  • To create your own custom STILL and IDLE action sequences, please join the Reallusion Content Developer program.

Animation Setting for Camera and Lighting 

  • iClone camera animated Animation Timeline EditingStill (camera/light) mode 

Still mode is for interactive project preview purpose where users can freely adjust the camera angle and lighting position while no key data will be stored in timeline. The still mode setting can only be kept in the iClone project, and will not affect any timeline key settings.

  • Animated Camera (or Animated Light) 

    Animated mode is for playing back a project with a predefined animated camera or light key, and will also open the timeline for you to view the key arrangement. If you only want to view the project using the animated camera and lighting effects without accidentally adding keys to the timeline while previewing, please turn Edit mode OFF.

  • Edit Key (on/off) 

    When the timeline key Edit mode is ON, users will auto add a key to the current frame when adjusting the camera and lighting via mouse drag operation. It’s a very quick way to create animated lighting and camera effects using the timeline. 

    Please note when users attempt to add a camera (or light) key to the project from scratch, the camera (or light) will jump to it’s default position when you first turn on “Edit Mode”. The reason is that there is no key information in the first frame yet; iClone uses the default camera setting as the first key, not the Still Mode (or temp) camera position. Users can simply reposition the camera to reset the key data.

  • Lock to Character  (camera only) 

    This is a quick or temporary way to force camera (left-right pan) lock to a moving character. To have a perfect camera tracking result, users can also set an animated camera in the timeline to manually track the character in their own favorable ways.



  • Make a 360 degree rotation for props

    • To maintain the same direction to rotate, not to input rotation value > 180, iClone will choose the short route to achieve the same absolute rotate angle. To have a full 360 degree rotation, users need to set at least 3 key for rotation
    • init frame 1 = 0, mid = 179, 3rd= 358 (now 359 rounds up to 360), end = 0

  • Animation inside Merged Props 

    • Merged props act as a new 3D prop combining all in-scene prop items, including texture setting and motion data.
    • Animated Merged Props will automatically do loop animation when placed in a project. The Merged Prop animation will be kept as idle animation
    • Select Still clip from the animation clip list  to stop the animation 

  • If all camera keys get deleted, the screen focus might disappear. To bring back the main character (scene or props) at any time.  use hotkey: A S D F G H J (front, right, top, left, bottom, back, face) to re-focus the camera and add new camera key.

Animation Timeline Editing